Bob Swaback: Eight ’Vettes and a TR6
Bob Swaback has eight carefully selected Corvettes, a TR6 and more than 40 years of loving cars.
“Over the years, I have owned several different makes and models of sport cars. You can say cars have always been my passion from when I first started driving,” says the Phoenix resident. “Over the last 40 plus years, I have owned all types of sports cars but never several of one type. Five years ago, I decided to dedicate my time to picking one model and sticking with it.”
He’s just brought all eight together in a new location on East Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix. “The building is 55 years old, and it has a lot of character, from the original barrel-vaulted ceilings to the block walls decorated with neon signs and a new vintage mural,” says Swaback, who moved 15 years ago from native Chicago with Gaye, his wife now of 41 years. His daughter Nicolee and son-in-law Paul have two children, Alijah and Alexian, who also live in the Valley.
Area residents may remember some of the former businesses at this now GreatGarage: Kachina Products, 1960–1978; Garment Hanger Company, 1979–1987; Metro Auto Glass, 1988–1990; Specified Products, 1993–2003; HTA Wheels, 2004–2006; Adobe Awning, 2010–2014; and EMG Vehicle, 2014–2017.
Swaback is a partner in Just Rite Acoustics Inc., started in 1978, a contractor that installs acoustical ceilings and wall panels throughout the Midwest. While his partners run the business in Chicago, he runs the family charity named after their son Mitchell who drowned in a rafting trip in northern Wisconsin on August, 14, 2004.
The Mitchell Swaback Charities (mitchellswabackcharities.org) was started to carry on Mitchell’s legacy in helping and serving others. The family’s current effort is the Harvest Compassion Center (harvestcompassioncenter.org), a food and clothes pantry that serves 700-plus families per month with food, clothes, hygiene and baby products free of charge. HCCs are in North Phoenix and Chandler and soon in the West Valley.
Car and Driver, then the Cars
When he was in high school, he read car magazines such as Car and Driver and Motor Trend. “I just loved reading and looking at photos of any type of car,” he says.
His favorite car in late teens was the Triumph TR6; he recently purchased one, which is the only car that’s not a Corvette in his garage.
Still, his love for Corvettes was always particularly strong, so he built his collection of America’s sport cars. “I’ve owned Corvettes in the past and have never lost my passion for these cars,” he says. “I knew that they had many options, different style generations, engine options that would allow me to build a collection that could be the same manufacture but all look very different.”
He’s always been very particular. “I want my cars to look brand new. That means a total body-off restoration,” he says. “Lately, I’ve been leaning towards survivors, which means 100-percent original or with very little work done: a little rust, a scratch, not the best interior but they still have to be very presentable.”
He only purchases Corvettes with the proper documentation validating originality. These items include the tank and window stickers, original keys, owner’s manual and other items. “This documentation validates the vehicle and adds much value,” he says. “A matching-numbers car adds a tremendous amount of value and will allow the vehicle to continue increasing in value.”
He purchases some of his vehicles at auctions throughout the year. “Auctions allow you several options in models, but you need to know what you’re purchasing and make sure you’re not overpaying. I have also purchased vehicles from dealers that specialize in Corvettes; for me, that’s the best option. They know the cars and have a reputation to carry on.”
He’s looking now for a 1971 LT1 and a 1963 split window.
Here’s a look inside at the Corvettes:
1965 Roadster –– This is a body-off restoration completed in 2015 to NCRS specifications with correct matching numbers. Equipped with the L79 engine, 327 cid/350 hp and four-speed, the classic is finished in Nassau Blue with a blue interior.
1966 Roadster –– With a body-off restoration in 2013, the car has the big block L72 427 cid/425 hp with a four-speed. “Of 27,720 Corvettes sold in 1966 only 1,190 left the factory wearing Tuxedo Black, the lowest of any color choice,” Swaback explains.
1967 Coupe –– In Marlboro Maroon with black leather interior, this iteration of the last year for the body style is powered by the L79 327 cid/350 hp with a four-speed and rare air-conditioning. “Of 22,970 Corvettes produced in 1967, only 3,788 had air-conditioning as an option,” he says.
1967 Coupe –– His second ’67 is livered in Marina Blue with bright blue leather interior. This also has an L79 327 cid/ 350 hp with a four-speed as well as power brakes and steering and air-conditioning.
1970 Coupe –– The superlative LT1 engine, 350 cid/370 horse powers this car in the final year of muscle-car-era high-compression engines. In Mulsanne Blue with blue interior, this is mostly original, including the four-speed. “Of 17,316 Corvettes produced in 1970 there were only 1,287 produced with the LT1 engine option,” he explains.
1971 LS6 Corvette –– Recently purchased from Pro Team Corvette in Napoleon, Ohio, this is one of only 188 Corvettes produced with the aluminum-head 425-horsepower LS6 in 1971, the first year of detuning the ’60s muscle cars. Restored in 2014, the matching-numbers car soared to a NCRS Top Flight award the following year.
The T-top-equipped car is in Warbonnet Yellow with the Black deluxe interior and includes the required four-speed. Al Grenning of CCAS, LLC has affirmed the legitimacy and originality of the cylinder case (engine block), engine pad and engine stampings.
Sold new by Trois Rivieres Chevrolet Ltd. in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Canada, it is optioned with power steering, power brakes, power windows, leather, tilt-n-telescopic, shoulder harness, M-21, 3.55 posi, SS brakes, AM/FM radio, tinted glass, rally’s and raised white letter radials.
The extensive documentation includes the owners manual, sales brochure the official GM of Canada build sheet.
1972 Coupe –– In Monza Red with saddle leather interior, this is a matching-numbers car, which garnered a NCRS Top Flight score of 98.6 percent in 2016. Completely original with 11,000 actual miles, it’s equipped with power steering, power brakes, electric windows and the 350-cid/ 255 horse LT1 with a four-speed. Of the 27,004 Corvettes produced this year, only 1,741 came through with the LT1 engine option, he explains.
1978 Pace Indy Pace Car –– With just 100 original miles, the car has the 350-cid/185- horse engine. Of the 46,776 Corvettes produced, there were only 6,502 Limited Edition Indy Pace Cars made this year.
Although his is a private collection, Swaback opens it to friends and family and some not-for-profit functions. Are these just trophies? “I’m always ask if I drive my cars and the answer is ‘yes,’” Swaback says. “These cars need to be driven. Honestly, I get just as much enjoyment looking at my collection as I do driving them.”
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