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Hot Rodder Helps Revitalize City's Downtown

Hot Rodder Helps Revitalize City's Downtown


Like many communities across America, the small Wisconsin city of Manawa is struggling to keep its downtown business center alive. This year the Manawa Chamber of Commerce formed a Downtown Revitalization Committee to work on the problem. They decided to hold car shows in the downtown area each Friday night in July.  The July 4 and July 11th shows went well, but the July 18 event really popped thanks to a hot rodder named Burton Brown.

Brown’s 28-ft. long Bonneville streamliner has been featured in national magazines, so it was a really big hit in this “Hometown America” setting. Like most stars of the show, the car arrived fashionably late and Brown’s motor home and double-decker enclosed race trailer caused quite a stir, even before the doors opened to reveal his wind-cheating World Land Speed racer.

Brown’s car is unusual because it currently has a much-modified four-cylinder Pinto motor powering it. Brown purchased the car on eBay for $10,000 and the motor came from his friend Jeff “Sharkey” Schroeder, a salvage yard proprietor who seems to make his way to the Salt Flats every year.

Brown hopes to run 200 mph with the Cobra-rized Pinto engine at Bonneville Speed Weeks this August. If all goes well, he would like to return for the World Finals in October with a higher-tech four-banger installed. The hotter engine is a 122-cid custom dual-swirl four-cylinder that Brown believes can give him performance in the 300-mph-plus range.

After its completion, the car went to Bonneville for tech only and made no runs. It was then tested in Ohio, where ground clearance issues on pavement arose. Different, higher tires are used at the Salt Flats. So, Brown expects the G/GS car to get up and go like never before.

Brown and his car certainly added get up and go to the free car show in Manawa. The show also included two classic Packards from the Dave Lindsay collection, a 1950 Austin A90 Atlantic convertible owned by Jim Rugowski that is one of only five in this country, a 1955 Dodge lead sled built years ago by John Tomaszewski at his well-known T-Ski’s shop and around 28 other great machines from an original owner Dodge Dart to  Mark Geske’s Henry J hot rod.


Burton Smith’s Bonneville streamliner.


Jim Rugowski’s rare Austin Atlantic.


Hot rod Henry J was all flamed out.


Dodge customized by T-Ski..


Dave Lindsay’’s 1931 Packard Model 840 Deluxe 8 sport phaeton.