A Tale of Two Beauties
A candid interview with Addison Brown, owner of Brown’s Classic Autos, about
the thrill of the business and the passion that has lead to the success at Brown’s.
In the world of Scottsdale car enthusiasts, Brown’s Classic Autos and Corvettes just seem to go hand-in-hand. It was right here in Brown’s showroom this past January that GM and Jay Leno unveiled the 2014 Corvette Stingray and its brilliantly redesigned C-7 body. So we weren’t too surprised when we learned that Addison and her team now own one of the most rare Corvettes on the plant…an unrestored, museum-quality, 1953 Corvette with Serial #083. We had the privilege of sitting down with Addison recently to talk about her booming business and more specifically the stunning machine that graces the cover of this issue of Highline Autos.
HA: What single thing would you say contributes most to your success?
AB: Passion! Passion for cars! Passion for excellence! Passion for exceeding every customer’s expectations! When you care about something as deeply as we do, it cannot help but succeed.
HA: When our staff saw the cover photo, they said it looked like the “Tale of Two Beauties.” Tell us how a girl like you gets into the world of classic cars.
AB: Well, I hear that quite often, that I don’t “fit the mold” in many different respects. But once you get past the “blond with long legs” you’ll find I’m just a simple car buff that gets really excited about a great find and has the same dreams as any car guy or gal.
HA: Who is the Browns Customer?
AB: Great question! We have fantastic customers from every walk of life; from buyers as far away as Australia who are confident when they buy from us sight-unseen; to the average car enthusiast looking for a place to get their yearly inspection from a shop they can trust. We built a million-dollar street rod to satisfy the dream of one customer and added an EFI system in a prized Model A for another. No job is too big or too small.
HA: Tell us about this particular car on the cover, the history and what makes it so special.
AB: This car represents the start of a dynasty! Corvette has become one of the greatest American cars of all time, leading the way in reengineering and redesigning to always be ahead of the curve in looks and performance.
In 1953, General Motors manufactured 300 Corvettes, all finished in Polo White with red interior and a hand built fiberglass body. Experts estimate there are about 190 still in existence. This particular car is an absolute time capsule! Under the hood is the original 235 CI “Blue Flame” 150 HP Engine, a Powerglide Automatic Transmission, Three Carter YH Carburetors and dual exhaust. A detailed inspection revealed the engine casting number and date code (June 8, 1953) and cylinder head are correct for the serial number range and proceed its assembly date by about three weeks. The entire chassis and suspension appear to be substantially original and the body has never been off the frame. Our inspection also confirmed there were no signs of damage repair to either the frame or the hand-laid fiberglass body. The only options available in 1953 were a WonderBar AM Radio and a heater, which are both present on this vehicle.
HA: How do you authenticate a car like this? How is the inspection conducted?
AB: It’s an involved process, but we have to be certain we represent the car accurately when it goes up for sale. I do the initial validation by inspecting documents and assessing the car. With this particular car, we called in Roy Sinor, who is probably the most knowledgeable Corvette person in the world. He was the national judging chairman for the National Corvette Restoration Society (NCRS) and has written several Corvette books. He was absolutely incredible, and I felt it was such an honor to work with and learn from one of the greats.
HA: You mentioned the car going up for auction. What are your plans?
AB: The car will be presented for auction at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale this coming January. What has us so excited is the fact Barrett-Jackson has chosen the car to run in its Salon Collection; the most prestigious and premier group of cars being offered worldwide. It is such a privilege to have a car selected for this exclusive group.
HA: How did you come to own this particular car?
AB: Cars like this are few and far between. You don’t find them on eBay or Craig’s List, that’s for sure. We bought this car from a private collector. The car has been in museums most of its life, even the private collection of Alan Jackson, the Country Music super star.
HA: How do you find these gems?
AB: It’s really an ongoing and never-ending process! We are lucky to have established a strong, reputable presence in the industry, and we find more and more of these gems being brought to us. We also scour the world looking…we call it fishing. Credit for the big catches goes to my partner, my best friend, my husband Walt. He is a real estate developer and whenever he travels – which is all the time! – he is relentless in checking out car shops, shows, dealers and brokers along the way. We always have about 40 lines in the water and when he gets a bite I get involved to validate the catch and make the initial inspection of the car. I have to admit it’s a rush!
HA: Is there anything in particular you are ‘fishing’ for right now?
AB: I can’t say there is anything in particular on my radar screen right now, but both Walt and I have a very special and unique eye for the real treasures, that we’ve developed over the years of doing this. We know it when we see it. So if you are reading this and looking to sell your GEM, you know where to go!
HA: We know the original Brown’s opened in 1953. Nice coincidence! But you’ve given the company a fresh new look and direction the past few years. How have you grown since opening this showroom in 2012?
AB: Ha! Yes, 60 years for Corvette and 60 years for Brown’s. How about that!
I say this all the time, but we are so blessed for our growth. So many people work their entire careers trying to make a business take off. Brown’s just snowballed and we are constantly adapting and adjusting to keep up with the growth. For example, in 2012 after opening our new showroom, we sold 50 cars. In 2013 we have sold over 125 cars. And those sales have been complimented by the expansion of our consignment business and our fully integrated service department. It’s exciting just thinking about 2014!
HA: What are your plans for 2014?
AB: Well, first of all to continue to manage our growth. Every year our quality improves and every year my pride in our inventory grows. The breakout plan for 2014 is making a big splash in the custom-builder community. We have one of the country’s most talented custom design artists in Tony Arme. Tony has already wowed us with restorations and custom builds in 2013 and he has several street rods and hot rod projects lined up over the next several months. You’ll start seeing Brown’s Classic Autos and Tony’s craftsmanship nationwide at shows such as SEMA and the Grand National Roadster Show.
Browse Brown’s inventory at www.BrownsClassicAutos.com or stop by the showroom at 16066 N. 77th Street in Scottsdale, Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. They are also available evenings and weekends by appointment; call (480) 998-4300.