While growing up in nearby Lexington, Mansfielder Thomas E. Brown’s youthful days were spent enjoying and studying cars and trucks.
“My first car was a 1967 Skylark, but my first show vehicle was my 1977 Ford Van,” said Brown.
”It was customized in an English Knights theme. I took it to shows for over 10 years and it won a lot of awards.”
Like many of us, work and obligations sometimes have to come first and Thomas focused on his career. First there was Neer Manufacturing, then Taylor Metal and eventually into a semi-formal retirement. Now Thomas enjoys being employed part-time with his brother Denny at Franklin Body Shop and back to his roots with his passion for cars.
As most of us know, show cars take both time and money. Tom began to travel the region to various shows and put together a great looking go-cart with the body of a 1937 Ford painted viper red and green.
In the fall of 2011, at a car show in Crestline, Tom came across a green 1964 Rambler with the magic words “For Sale”. After careful inspection with his brother, they determined the car could be salvaged. The car was purchased and taken to a couple of shows that fall, then garaged where the restoration began.
Tom choose the old school look for his Rambler, and piece by piece the Rambler was disassembled to repair and replace 3 layers of patches and bondo. The stained and torn seats were sent out to be reupholstered, and match the original look for the time period. The motor was pulled, cleaned and had a carburetor replaced.
The car was painted “Old School” metallic green, accented with metallic white lace and pinstripes. Crager wheels were added for appearance. The total restoration time took about six months. Today, Tom tours the shows in his Rambler and has picked up awards running from best paint to best of show. But two things mean more to him than the awards.
The one took lace in Mifflin at the Lions Club Show at Charles Mill Lake. Tom was presented with an original visor mirror for a former Rambler owner. It now travels with the car everywhere.
The other happened last year at the Brethren Care Classic Car & Truck Show in Ashland. While cleaning his car at the show. One of the facility’s residents Lowell Horn approached Tom and offered original paper work for the Rambler. The teary-eyed resident owned a Rambler years ago, but all he had left was the paperwork. He wanted the paperwork to go with the car. Tom took it home and had it framed.
You can catch Tom at many local cruises and car shows throughout the area this summer.
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