A bit of the past

By STEVEN SPEARIE
STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER

Springfield, IL
-- When Ken Broeking traded in his 1966 Corvette for a “family car” in 1969, he figured that’s the last he’d see of the Corvette.

“I promised myself if and when I got back from (service in) Vietnam, I’d get a Corvette,” recalls Broeking, 57, of Oreana, 48 miles east of Springfield. “I ordered one and picked it up from a dealer in Herrin, Ill., days after I returned.”

Broeking eventually bought another Corvette and maintained an interest in the cars as a member of the Central Illinois Corvette Club and, later, the Decatur-based Rolling Prairie Corvette Club. At shows, he and his wife talked “from time to time” about whatever happened to his 1966 Corvette.

It was Carol Broeking who started tracking down the car from the bill of sale she found in Ken’s Army papers. In 1995, it was traced to an owner in Cody, Wyo.

When the Broekings were at Yellowstone National Park later that summer, they decided to have a peek at the car. Ken Broeking matched up the car’s serial number, but he says the real giveaway was a puncture hole he’d put in one of the seats just months after buying it.

“I knew I wanted to get it back, but (the owner) didn’t want to sell,” Broeking says. “We would exchange Christmas cards through the years. Finally, he called me one day (in 1998) and said he was going to retire and to make an offer on the car or it was going to go to auction.”

He quickly had a deal.

Although it had low mileage, Ken Broeking says the car was running “tired” and needed attention. Just recently, the car got a new paint job and an all-new interior.

“It’s as good as or better than it looked (in 1966),” he says.

Broeking, who also has a 1999 ’Vette, says he’s glad for the reunion.

“They say you can’t go home, but at least you can get a little piece of it.”