He 'can't say no to a car'
Roger Brown grew up working in his dad’s Mulvane service station. So he could have had his fill of cars by the time he got out of high school.
One look at his collection of vintage American automobiles quickly dispels that notion.
“I can’t say no to a car,” he chuckles. Included in his fleet of vehicles are a 1969 Camaro, a 1960 Corvette, a 1969 Chevelle SS, and a 1999 Corvette. Not everything is of GM manufacture, though, as waiting in the wings for restoration are a 1968 Dodge Charger and a 1969 Plymouth GTX. There’s even a ’40 Ford coupe with a flathead V-8 awaiting his touch.
But the car that seems to grab the most attention is a customized 1966 Corvette coupe with wide fender flares and a nasty stance that would look right at home carving corners at Riverside or maybe Lake Afton.
“I love that car,” Brown says. “It’s a blast to drive.”
And drive it he does.
“These cars aren’t pampered, they’re driven,” he says.
He used to use the ’66 Vette as his daily driver and makes no apologies that the engine compartment doesn’t look like something crossing the block at Barrett-Jackson.
Brown found the car listed in the local want ads in 1991 and knew immediately that he needed to go check it out. He called early in the morning.
“The guy said he was tired and wanted to put it off until three or so in the afternoon.”
Brown persisted. “I always end up losing the car if I wait.”
As soon as the owner pulled a sheet off the bright red Corvette, Brown knew he was going to buy it, even though it wasn’t a running car at the time. A deal was struck and the owner asked him how he was going to get it home.
“I’m going to drive it,” Brown replied confidently. “Oh, no you’re not,” the seller replied.
“Yeah, I am,” said Brown, who began tinkering with the carburetor and soon had the car fired up and running, weakly.
“I started driving it home and something popped and it started running better,” he recalls. He rebuilt the carburetor and soon had it back on the road.
Brown said the Corvette was modified back in the 1970s, with fender flares added front and back, connected by what appears to be a narrow running board. The nose of the car was extended several inches to give it a Mako Shark look, with a V-shaped horizontal grille added. The headlights are mounted behind the grille.
A set of functional Hooker headers add to the car’s competition look and sound great when the 327 V-8 is fired up. It’s not the original engine, but is rated at 365 horsepower, with a high lift camshaft part of the package. A big block Corvette hood gives the car even more race car credibility.
Factory knock-offs gave way to 15-inch American Racing 5-spoke wheels wearing 60-series Cooper radial tires.
Inside, a short-throw chromed shifter handles gear changes in the 4-speed transmission. Brown said the dash pad is original, but he had Morgan-Bulleigh install a fresh set of red leather covers on the twin bucket seats.
Brown said he’s never had the Corvette on a race track, unless you consider the time or two he tried his hand at Solo II competition.
“My son, Corey, and I spun it out, a complete 360, and never touched a cone,” Brown grins.
“I’m stuck in the ’60s. I’ve worked hard for all this stuff. This is the reason I went to college, so I can afford some toys,” he says.
Giving the customized red Corvette an appreciative look, he says, “A lot of people have tried to buy it out from under me, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s in the will, going to my son.”
Mike Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org