Stayin’ Cool

Still in the hands of its original owner, this mid-year big-block convertible sports a 502-cubic-inch V8 and a host of other mods.

July 25, 2013

Also from Issue 84

  • 2014 Corvette Styling
  • 2010 Grand Sport Coupe
  • Buyer’s Guide: $10K
  • 1959 Restomod
  • Alan Bean 1969 big-block coupe
  • Tech: C7 Tires
  • Profile: Tom Wallace
  • Racing: Le Mans
Buy Corvette-magazine-84-cover
Stayin’ Cool 1
Stayin’ Cool 2
Stayin’ Cool 3
Stayin’ Cool 4
Stayin’ Cool 5
Stayin’ Cool 6

Brock Landers traces an interest in cars back to his earliest childhood memory, which happens to be of his family’s Buick. “Like most kids, I took up the Buick banner because that was what my father drove,” says Landers. This was all well and good early on, but when he reached driving age it presented a problem. “Buicks were not cool!” he exclaims. “My first car was a 1956 Buick Century. I was in college and all of my non-college friends had Corvettes, and I absorbed a good deal of razzing each time I would show up at the local Manners Big Boy restaurant in North Olmsted, Ohio.” The good-natured but incessant harassment took its toll, so Landers hatched a plan to bring it to a halt. “I finally reached a breaking point and bought a used 1963 Corvette roadster,” he says. “The only reason for this purchase was to prove what a piece of junk this model really was, but after two weeks, I fell in love with it!”

Landers enjoyed the ’63 droptop for the better part of a year before selling it. Then, on February 25, 1966, he walked into Fairchild Chevrolet in Lakewood, Ohio and made his first new-car purchase: a 1966 Corvette convertible. And not just any convertible, but one equipped with a 427-cubic-inch big-block V8. This 390-horsepower engine was connected to a 4-speed manual gearbox with a Positraction rear end. The car was loaded with options, including aluminum knock-off wheels, power steering and windows, side exhaust, an AM/FM stereo and tinted glass.

Landers immediately pressed his Corvette into duty. He drove the car back and forth to work every day, on vacations to California and Florida and on ski trips to New York and Pennsylvania. Landers soon joined Corvette Cleveland, one of the oldest Corvette clubs in the United States, and got involved with its many activities, including racing. “I raced the car at local club events at Nelson Ledges and Mid-Ohio, and had a lot of fun with it doing that,” he says.

Though Landers used his Corvette as a daily driver and raced it on the weekends, he was obsessed with maintaining and preserving it. “I always managed to flush out the frame with water and remove the salt after driving the car in winter,” he explains, “and that’s why the frame is still in excellent condition.”

Landers stopped racing the Corvette in 1969 and got more involved with displaying it at car shows. At the same time, he continued driving the convertible regularly—at least until 1976, when he bought a high-performance jet boat. “The engine powering it was a big-block Chevy, of course,” says Landers. “A 461 with nitrous and many other speed enhancers that brought the boat’s top speed to just shy of 90 mph from the stock boat’s maximum of 71 mph.”

All of that fun on the water led Landers to spend very little time with his Corvette, and for the next quarter century he drove it only a few hundred miles per year. Then, in the late 1990s, a friend he used to race with organized a reunion of the old racing gang and showed the group his disassembled 1969 L89 convertible, which he was in the midst of restoring. In 2000, Landers saw the same car resurrected to its former glory; that gave him the motivation to restore his ’66. But he decided to take a turn away from originality with the project.