Coastie’s hobby drives him at work

Story and photo by PA2 Matthew Schofield.

In the sleepy town of Morro Bay, Calif., the sight of an old car is generally just old hat. It seems like on every corner there is an older person in some kind of cool, old vehicle, but what’s not as common-place is to see a younger person behind the wheel of one. There is one car around town that doesn’t just transport a Coast Guardsman to and from work it drives him while he works.

The Dodge Viper-red shiny exterior leads passersby to gaze in sheer astonishment at the length and width of the 1959 Cadillac. The graceful lines lead to a simple man, who loves to work on anything mechanical whether it is for himself or for the Coast Guard.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Barrett, a native of Gulfport, Miss. and an aficionado of everything mechanical, found his dream car with his wife two years ago.

“My wife saw the Cadillac, and she didn’t know it was the one I wanted; there was no engine in the car and there were so many things to do,” said Barrett, as he smiled in recollection of the moment.

He has restored it into both a daily driver and a head-turner.

The 1959 Cadillac Sedan Deville Series 62 body style with the 390 cubic-inch V-8 motor, leather upholstery and all the finer things from the era make it stand out in the small town.

MORRO BAY, Calif. - Petty Officer Steven Barrett stands in front of his 1959 Cadillac, which he restored from its non-working condition to a daily driver. Barrett is currently stationed at Coast Guard Station Morro Bay. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Schofield.

MORRO BAY, Calif. - Petty Officer Steven Barrett stands in front of his 1959 Cadillac, which he restored from its non-working condition to a daily driver. Barrett is currently stationed at Coast Guard Station Morro Bay. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Schofield.

“Everybody knows the car and knows I’m in the Coast Guard when I drive it, because I’m always in uniform,” said Barrett. “Being that it is a small community, I get a lot of respect, old men bring their old cars out, we have coffee and talk.”

With this Cadillac, he did various things like change the oil, changed the plugs and rebuilt the engine. He says he can understand the way its mechanical things work.

“The more I work on it, the more it grows on me. It is a part of me,” he says about the car.

Because of Barrett’s mechanical interests in old cars it is easy to see how his work as a machinery technician for the Coast Guard is a good fit. If a person practices what they do as a hobby, it only makes them that much better at their job.

“I have rebuilt 41 [different] motors on my off-time,” he said about his mechanical experience and rebuilding them.

“I’ve got a good perspective on all the engines,” said Barrett after discussing how he worked on Coast Guard resources like 378-foot cutters, 41-foot utility boats, 25-foot response boats and 23-foot small boats.

There is a similarity to turning wrenches on a car and turning them on a boat, the hardware and mechanical pieces between both platforms have not changed much over the years.

When he thinks of how he works on them (the boats and car), “I try to keep the boat as nice as I keep my car,” he adds, “I have a list of things that I want to do on the Cadillac and I see that list of things that need to be done on the boats.”

Ultimately, when the grease gets wiped off and the job is finished, Barrett doesn’t care what he is working on as long as it is mechanical. Something is always bound to break on the car or the boats, and he will be there with his co-workers to fix them.

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2 Comments

  1. Jeff Eckles says:

    Great article- I am a resident of Morro Bay and see Steven’s car around frequently. He represents the CG and the city well. I often see tourists taking pictures of his car- it is a real head turner and Steven did a fantastic restoration job.

    Not to be a nitpicky jerk about your article, but I think you meant to use the word “admiration”, not “admonishment” in first sentence of your second paragraph.

    Thank you!
    We love our Coasties here in Morro Bay-

    Sincerely,
    A Local

  2. cgnews says:

    Actually I think they meant to say astonishment. At least that’s what I changed it to. Thanks for pointing it out.