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A Dream of Roman Red

John Manka Road Trips the Right Way in his 1960 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Road Trip Essentials

  • Beach Boys music
  • Travel cup with coffee
  • Road trip partner
  • Snacks
  • Paper map
  • Kleenex
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick

Heads turn, and all eyes are on the 1960 Chevrolet Corvette convertible as it parades past. Whether it be unadulterated fanfare or simply the quiet esteem of someone who likes what they see, this is customarily the case when John Manka takes to the road in the car he has coddled since 1996.

Meriting a second glance from those who know nothing of classic cars and utmost respect from those who do, this Corvette is the same model year driven to initiate the “Route 66” series, airing from 1960 to 1964. Known as “America’s Sports Car,” the Corvette has cemented its place in American hearts. Akin to other classic cars worth their salt, these cars withstand time’s test because they’re exclusive in engineering, design and history and because their owners understand this fact. America embraces a healthy classic-car culture of road trips, car shows, rallies and races.

While regarded as sentient beings by those ensconced in this culture of exclusivity, it’s no secret that these cars lack the aerodynamic purpose and mechanical prowess of modern vehicles. Notwithstanding, these cultivators revere the non-digital design and hand-assembly undertaken in the creation of a much simpler vehicle. However, the gift of possession gives way to the necessity of maintenance, which is an altogether separate facet of the classic-car experience. For tinkerers and restorers like John, who has owned and operated 1 Stop Tire & Auto in Castle Rock for 11 years now, it’s a way of life he doesn’t get to live nearly enough.

John’s interest in the almighty automobile developed in Canada around age 14, and he seized the opportunity to work on his friends’ cars. His mechanical abilities were soon recognized by the owner of a station where he pumped gas part-time, and as such, he was quickly transferred to the garage. It was there his fervent wish to own a classic car was born. A man of many talents and endeavors, John delved into other fields after college, married and had a family. His dream to own a classic car was faint but still danced in the back of his mind while he slept.

More than 30 years later, he walked into a buddy’s service garage and the divine intervened. There it was up on the lift—as big as day and as dirty as night. John jokingly quipped, “Is that the one you were finding for me?” “It could be,” was the answer. That same 1960 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, decently worse for the wear at the time, rolled into his life. Decades in the making, he set to work on a dream. 

Suited in original Roman Red, this resplendent car reaches for the pinnacle of perfection but stops just short, wearing its few blemishes as a badge of honor afforded by almost six decades of life’s consequences. Chronicled by time, the cracks in the black leather seats tell a story of love and laughter, their timeworn perfection chuckling at the thought of replacement. Make no mistake—this car has been bathed a grand total of three times since gracing John with ownership. Instead, she is routinely adored with dry brushing.

Other than some snazzy Cragar wheels, John has kept his car in conceivably original condition. But sometimes even masterpieces need to be marginally modernized for practicality. Longing to break the tether imposed by the nature of our mountainous terrain, John plans to install a transmission that will allow road trips outside of Douglas County. He also plans to paint the coves on the sides of the car white, a request he'll honor from wife Margaret, one of his favorite road trippers.

Serving on the boards of the Castle Rock Downtown Development Authority and the Castle Rock Police Officers Foundation, John is an active participant in the Castle Rock, Castle Pines and Larkspur Communities. He co-founded Business Over Beverages, owns a stake in the 105 West Brewing Company, serves on the Colorado Canada Association board and is a former chairman of the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. John also created the Castle Rock Cruise-In Car Show, a Father's Day weekend staple and a collaboration between the Vintage Car Club and the Downtown Merchants Association.

The classic-car culture is very much alive and will breathe for decades to come through attrition of these beautiful metal creations. Currently, John is enjoying stewardship of a car that will shine long after his term is up. And he’s planning to road trip.