Tim & Debbie Brown's 1961 Chevy Impala SS
(from Volume 18, Issue 202)

While hosting our annual Beach Blast car show every year in Cocoa Beach, our first goal is to put on an event that will be fun for participants and their families. However, we have also made it a tradition that the Best Of Show winner not only gets included as the main car on next year’s event T-shirt, they also get featured on the cover and in the center spread of a future issue of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News. We figure, since the Best Of Show honors are decided by who gets the most participant votes, it is obvious the winning car is everything that our readers would want to see. For Beach Blast 17, held on May 13-15, 2011, the Best Of Show title was bestowed upon Tim and Debbie Brown of Jacksonville for their outstanding 1961 Chevy Impala SS.

This is not the first car that Tim has built that took the Best Of Show honors at Beach Blast, as when the Browns debuted their 1967 Camaro and 1972 Chevy C-10 Pickup they also received the most participant votes those particular years. That is quite a testimonial to the quality of work that has gone into every car Tim Brown has built for himself.

The fact is, after building the Camaro and the C-10 Pickup, Tim was not looking for another vehicle to build. However, at every car show he kept being drawn to the 1961 and 1962 Chevy “Bubbletops”. The next thing you know Tim found himself looking at Impalas for sale online, and they decided to go with Debbie’s favorite Impala body style, which is the 1961 Bubbletop. After looking for a while locally, they found one online in New Jersey that had spent all but the previous two years in California. They drove from Florida to New Jersey to look at the car, and ended up bringing it home with them.

The car was in great shape when they bought it, with the original classic white with red stripe paint scheme. However, Tim isn’t the type of guy to leave things stock, so he dove in and made many changes en route to the cars completion. On the exterior that meant going with Dupont ChromaBase in “Anniversary Red” found on a 2003 Corvette. As a paint and body man by trade, Tim obviously spent the countless hours of prep work and finishing it took to make the car come out as straight as an arrow, and the car really “pops” when you look at it on the show field. The flawless exterior stainless trim, and chrome work by Space Coast Plating, are accented by a set of Intro rims (20x9.5 inch fronts, 20x13 inch rears), which were wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tires (255/35ZR20 up front, and 335/30ZR20 out back).

Inside things were kept basically in the stock configuration, and treated to dark graphite gray upholster by Shreck’s Custom Upholstery. However, you’ll now find AutoMeter Ultra-Lite gauges with a color-matched original speedometer in the dash, an aftermarket steering wheel, and a Vintage Air system to keep things cool. The Hurst manual shifter is flanked by a cool surrounding bezel, which looks factory original but houses the controls for the Air Ride suspension system. Speaking of underneath, the car now utilizes Strong Arm suspension and MuscleBar sway bars by RideTech, plus Wilwood brakes with 6 piston calipers and 13-inch cross drilled rotors up front, and 4 piston calipers with 12-inch cross drilled rotors out back.

However, perhaps the piece-de-resistance is found by opening the hood and revealing a 409 engine, which was bored and stroked to displace 482 cubic inches. Built by Lamar Walden Automotive, it now produces 622 horsepower. Items include a Lamar Walden dual quad intake, two 600cfm Edelbrock 4-barrel carbs, Doug’s headers, 3-inch exhaust with two Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers with electric cut-outs, and a PRC aluminum radiator with dual electric 12-inch fans. The inherent beauty of the uniquely shaped valve covers is enhanced by many polished and plated parts, including a March serpentine pulley system, that really makes the engine compartment something to behold. Mated to the legendary 409 is a Tremec TKO-600 5-speed manual transmission, which passes the power to a stout Curry 9-inch Ford rear end with 3.70:1 gears.

The Browns have always loved cars, and figure it is in their blood. Along with his older brother, Tim grew up in his dad’s body shop. Now Tim’s son, TJ, is working in the same body shop that those before him grew up in, and they enjoy working with each other every day. Thanks to the love of cars that Tim’s dad and older brother instilled in him, Tim enjoys working on cars every day - even after doing it for over 30 years. Tim’s dad and brother both passed away several years ago, but he knows if they were here they would all be cruising together. After all, that’s a Brown family tradition. CN