The brothers bond over classic cars

Mark Boettcher, wearing a Mustang-inspired shirt, traveled to California in 1997 to purchase his 1993 Ford Mustang 5.0.

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    Don Boettcher's 1968 Chevrolet Corvette was his passion.  His brother Mark inherited the car.

Don Boettcher’s 1968 Chevrolet Corvette was his passion. His brother Mark inherited the car.

Photo courtesy of Mark Boettcher

METRO DETROIT — Thinking back to his childhood in Metro Detroit, Mark Boettcher remembers the four-speed 1968 Chevrolet Corvette owned by his older brother, Don Boettcher.

With a black interior and exterior, the big-block 427 automobile stands out. Don lived alone and Mark remembers his older brother still working on the car.

“My earliest memory is of 1980, when he was sanding flares on tires. He was sitting on a crate of milk in his garage,” Mark said. is a beast.

Don’s car culture influenced Mark, who graduated in 1988 from Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, and in 1997 the young Boettcher traveled to California to buy a 1993 Ford Mustang 5.0 convertible.

Don died of cancer in 2018, but the Corvette remained in the family with Mark, who is the youngest of six children and now resides in Clinton Township.

“He put his personal touch on it.”
At 18, Don Boettcher told his father – also named Don Boettcher – that he was in the market to buy his very first hot rod. After saving $800 shoveling snow and cutting lawns, the young man was ready for his own set of wheels.

“Can you imagine that?” was what the family patriarch thought of his son wanting to get a sports car.

In 1974, the two Dons shopped around to find the perfect vehicle. When they pulled up to a converted gas station on Lawndale Street in Detroit, near Dearborn, Don had found his Corvette. The price was $2,500 and he requested a loan to purchase the vehicle.

“I took it to the bank,” the eldest Don recalled.

For several years, Don paid for the car in regular installments. Don could often be spotted driving the ’68 Corvette on Telegraph Road and Grand River Avenue. He also made several modifications to the car. According to Mark, he replaced the timing chain with a gear drive, which made it sound like a fan. He implemented aluminum needle-bearing rocker arms and a Canton drift-pan oil pan. The Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiast lengthened the front end, molded in a front air dam and removed the pop-up headlights.

“He put his own spin on it,” Mark said. “It’s one of a kind.”

Mark — broker/owner of Lawyers Realty LLC in Mount Clemens — has owned his Mustang for 25 years. It was his dream car in high school, and after looking everywhere, “I found it in April 1997 online,” he said. “I knew I wanted a western car.”

On May 7, 1997, Mark flew to San Francisco. He then headed to the town of Alameda, California to purchase the 1993 V-8 Mustang convertible from the owner, named Mike. The pair still stay in touch. The plan was to drive his new car home to Michigan on Interstate 80.

But he hit a few bumps in the road. Because the electric motor had failed, Mark was unable to remove the soft top. He couldn’t wait to drive his new convertible across the country with the top down, but that wasn’t going to happen. He had to wait to get home before having it repaired.

Still, he kept the engine running. At the start of the trip, Mark drove through what he described as “the beautiful back roads of wine country” around Lake Berryessa, then on to Interstate 80 and out to Lake Tahoe.

He then ventured through Salt Lake City and into Wyoming, spending time in a place called Medicine Bow with a population of 398 people. During the trip, he met his father in Denver, where the two continued the road trip.

“I wanted the memory of spending time with my old man on the way home,” Mark said. He even played “California,” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, on the way home. Mark detailed the memory in a personal essay he wrote while applying to law school.

“My father had flown from Detroit to Denver to join me for part of the trip east of the Great Divide. Unfortunately, in Laramie, Wyoming, about 150 miles from Denver, a sharp object found the inside of my right front tire,” he wrote. “I had a spare, but it was a ‘doughnut’ spare, not to be taken over 45 MPH. the 150 miles at 45. Customers on the nearby freeway were not impressed. My dad was at Denver International Airport at midnight. The vehicle he saw had three good tires and a soft top that didn’t The vehicle I saw had 110% potential.

Eighteen hours later, Don, Mark and the Mustang drove home.

“We got back to Detroit at dawn on Mother’s Day, May 11,” Mark said.

The license plate on Mark’s prized possession reads ‘SF CALI’, paying homage to where he bought it. He also had local automotive pinstriper Dr. Ru’s “California LX” hand-painted on the deck lid.

Do you own a vehicle with an interesting history? For a chance to be featured in a future edition of our Behind the Wheel article, email editor Maria Allard at [email protected]

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