Greg Boehme: ‘Cars That Matter’

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 04/2015
  • posted in: Great Garages

Early 1970s Seattle, Wash.: Young Greg Boehme has a 1969 Z28 Camaro, $20 tucked in his Levi’s, and gas has topped off at 24.9 cents a gallon. And, every time he pulls into the service station, an attentive attendant offers a window wash and four drinking glasses, if he fills up. This was freedom, America is beautiful and life good.

By then, he already had the passion for anything automobile. “Amazing” grandfather Charlie was his biggest fan, says Boehme, who visited the Valley during Auction Week in January with his extraordinary SR2 Corvette, a ‘50s racing Corvette which he proudly displayed at Scottsdale Sport & Classic Motorcars.

Granddad had a service station on Cherry Street downtown. He was a competitor, too, traveling throughout the West midget-racing in the late ‘40s and ‘50s.

“I spent every minute I could in his garage and loved it,” he says. From an early age I was able to identify the brand, model and year produced of most cars on the road. What intrigued me about cars? Everything: the style, shape, color, and, most of all, their specific performance capabilities.”

Chris Economaki notwithstanding, the ‘60s were not intent on television coverage of motor racing, so the family kept tuned to their TV Guide. “Charlie, my father Joe and I never missed a chance to watch televised racing,” he says, noting that when Parnelli Jones’ STP Indy turbine car visited the nearby Firestone tire store in Renton, he persuaded his mother to drive him there to see it.

Since that first ‘Z, he’s assembled a superlative garage, including, in addition to the stunning SR2, a ‘66 Dodge Trans Am factory lightweight, an ‘89 Porsche 928 4S 16,000-mile original-mile car, a 2000 Lamborghini Diablo GT, one of only 80 produced, and other cars he discusses below.

His drive for great cars, as with other collectors: killer styling, great design, rarity and horsepower. He’s been smart about his buys. Most cars he’s collected have appreciated in value, and when he has sold them, occasionally, most have been very profitable.

Still, Greg understands worse scenarios are possible. “Although I have been very good a picking cars that are or will be collectible, seldom was this my motivation in purchasing the cars.”

Which to buy? Buy the best you can afford, and never apologize. “If you love the car, that’s enough. You may have more fun with a lesser value car than I do with cars worth millions. Sure, ‘important’ cars are expensive and they are viewed like art, but this has no relationship to pure enjoyment. Buy the cars you love and are passionate about; they will be the cars that reward you over time.”

Greg enjoys car shows and chatting with enthusiasts, but he often doesn’t do local shows as many of these are very valuable. For him, they are “cars that matter”: rolling history with great stories:

•1969 Yenko Camaro –– The great production-plus muscle car was sold new at Joseph Chevrolet in Cincinnati, Ohio, and documented with the original Protect-O-Plate plus Certificate of Authenticity from Ed Cunneen (COPO connection at Chevy) with a vintage photo of Don Yenko and the car in the background. Featured in Chevy Rumble magazine in 2007, it was a class winner at Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance that year.

A short list: a hi-performance numbers-matching L72 427/425-horse engine, M21 4-speed transmission, 12-bolt 4.10 ratio posi-traction, correct smog system, Cowl Induction system, power disc brakes and tachometer.

And, a somewhat longer one: gauge cluster, Delco AM radio, black standard upholstery, front and rear spoilers, 15×7-inch American mag wheels and Goodyear wide-tread tires.

One of the first group of 50 Yenko Camaro’s ordered, this is a so-called double COPO, receiving Central Office Production Order #9561 and #9737 (sports car conversion, specifically engineered for drag race competition. Greg has rotisserie restored it and refinished it in classic original Hugger Orange with black Yenko decals.

•1963 Bunkie Knudsen Styling Corvette –– This very early 1963 Corvette convertible, number 148, was prepared by GM styling and engineering for presentation to Chevrolet Motor Division president, Semon ‘Bunkie’ Knudsen. It follows the inspiration of the 1963 convertible given to retiring styling chief, the great Harley Earl.

The car features chrome plating and crinkle-finish black on the small-block fuelie 327, producing 360 horses. The engine bay was modified to accommodate the special exhaust system, which included trimming the heater box for clearance and relocating the battery behind the passenger seat.

The exterior paint is Crimson Firefrost Metallic lacquer with a full-length white racing stripe. Inside, the custom shift console assembly is flanked by 1964-type seats upholstered with white Naugahyde and maroon accent stripes.

The door panels are similarly covered, with chrome-plated brass trim plates and crossed-flag emblems, and slotted stainless steel floor grille plates, a common feature in GM styling cars of the era, replaced the stock floor mats.

The twin-spoke steering wheel features two types of wood on the rim, behind which 1964 instrumentation was used in the color-matching dash. Greg later upgraded the instrumentation and added 1967 seat belts.

“The restoration project was unusually complex, needing special attention to recreate the custom interior and stainless steel exhaust system, the latter requiring the skills of eight different machine and fabrication facilities and at least a dozen expert craftsmen,” he says.

•2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition –– “I started buying Heritage addition GTs several years ago, and I think it’s the only American car worth collecting since 1971,” Greg says. “These cars have rightly so skyrocketed in value.”

The car series began in 2005, inspired by the great GT40. This is one of 343 produced, and Greg drives it regularly. The all-alloy aluminum-bodied car carries a 5.4-liter supercharged motor with 550 horses hitched to a 6-speed transmission. 

“I knew that was an important car, and it still is,” he says. “Pulling into a filling station, I’m often met with three or four other cars pulling in just to talk. They want to know about the car, and most have never seen one. The fact they had to stop and see the car says it all.”

•2010 Matech Ford GT GT1 –– Ford returned to the great years at Le Mans when it delivered the 2005−06 GT, a mid-engine supercar patterned after the GT40.

In 2007, the Swiss racing team Matech Concepts and Ford Racing agreed to take the GT chassis and homologate it into the Ford GT3 for the European FIA GT3 Championship. With the factory close to the legendary Nürburgring, the cars had hours of lap time. In only the second year of racing the Ford GT3, the team won the European FIA GT3 Championship in 2008 by more than 30 points, Greg says.

Matech-prepared cars, many under Matech GT Racing, competed in several national series including the British GT Championship, Belcar, the GT3 Brasil Championship, VLN, as well as the FIA GT3 European Championship and the FIA GT1 World Championship.

The GT1 is powered by a Roush-Yates version of Ford’s 5.3-liter modular engine, which uses 102-octane unleaded racing fuel. The naturally aspirated double-overhead cam V-8 delivers 650 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque. An X-Trac 6-speed sequential gearbox with adjustable-slip differential makes it capable of 200 mph. Carbon discs clamped by AP Racing six-piston monoblock calipers make stopping exhilarating, too.

The 18-inch BBS forged aluminum wheels with Michelin 12-inch front and 13-inch rear tires are located by upper-lower A-arms suspension with four-way-adjustable coil-over shocks. With its lightweight carbon fiber body panels over an aluminum frame, the car weighs just 2,646 pounds minus driver and fluids.

Matech Concepts produced six Ford GT GT1 racers, two later destroyed in accidents. The remaining four cars are privately owned. This is chassis number 003.

The car competed in the FIA GT1 World Championship at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Germany’s Nürburgring, achieving one win and three pole positions in two years of competition. Wearing the Marc VDS Racing Team livery, 003 last competed in 2011 at San Luis, Argentina, finishing 11th in the final race of the season.

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