My father, Jim Braden, always had fun cars. I don’t remember the 1950(?) Willy’s station wagon or the 1952 (my year of birth) Chevrolet 2-door BelAir hardtop convertible, but I sure can remember his 1955 Chevrolet BelAir 2-door hardtop (265 power pack, powerglide); 1957 Chevrolet BelAir 2-door hardtop (283 power pack, powerglide); and 1960 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon (with air conditioning). Then there was his 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 (4-speed, knee knocker tach., bucket seats – my favorite while I was at home); 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 (3-speed with bench seats – at least it had air conditioning going for it …); 1970 Chevrolet Camaro and a few other Buicks, Lincolns and others for my Mom.
But, in 1973, Dad found a 1964 Corvette convertible and bought it. That was an awesome car, but I was already married and no longer home, so I really didn’t get to enjoy it much. (I’m pleased to tell you that I now have that Vette, although it needs some TLC. Stay tuned!) Then, a few months later, Dad found a 1966 Corvette convertible that needed some engine work. Dad bought it and had the repairs done to get it back on the road. That was my favorite of the two, as it had the original L-79 and 4-speed. However, it needed repainting back to the original factory silver, along with getting rid of the ugly rear fender flares the previous owner had installed.
In 1977, I tried to buy the ’66 from Dad and have the bodywork and paint done, but he wouldn’t take me seriously. So, in another case of “I’ll show you,” I ordered a brand new 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette! I kept that Vette for almost eight years before letting it go.
Marty buys the 66
Then, in 1993, Dad sold the ’66 to a gentleman named Marty Tietjen. Marty lived near Superior, NE, but would come through Clay Center, KS, where my Dad lived from time to time and would frequently stop to ask Dad if he wanted to sell either the ’64 or ’66. After a few years, Dad had the chance to buy another airplane, so he agreed to sell the ’66 to Marty.
Marty, his wife, Arlene, and son, Stuart, drove the ’66 for awhile, then they began a total frame-off restoration. It took 10 years to complete, but the efforts were well worth it. After completing the restoration, Marty and Arlene competed in many car shows including Corvette only shows, and were awarded many trophies for best of show and fan favorite. It turns out that Marty was from my bride (I still use that term even though it’s been more than a few years!) Sandy’s hometown of Byron, NE. Although Sandy and Marty didn’t know each other, Marty went to school with Sandy’s aunt, and knows Sandy’s brother and other common friends.
The 66 returns home
I had not seen the ’66 since Dad sold it to Marty, but had heard about how nicely it had been restored. In January of 2018, I called Marty to introduce myself, and to see if I might be able to come by to see it sometime. I also asked Marty to keep me in mind if he and Arlene ever decided to sell it. Marty said they’d be delighted to have us come look at it and would certainly keep me in mind if they decided to sell it, but the rest of the year flew by without arranging a time to look at it.
Then, two weeks before my 66th birthday in November of 2018, Marty called to tell me that they were thinking of letting the Vette go, and would I still be interested? I said, “Yes!” and arranged to look at it one week later. Sandy and I went to meet Marty and Arlene, and as soon as my loving bride saw the car, she announced, “You’ve got to do this!” She didn’t have to say it twice! The car was even nicer than I’d been told. Marty, Arlene and their son and the craftsman who helped did an amazing job.
So, for my 66th birthday, I got the 1966 Corvette convertible back in the family. Marty and Arlene delivered the ’66 on January 2, 2019, and I finally had the Vette I wanted for 42 years! A big thanks to Marty, Arlene and Stuart, and especially to my bride Sandy!