Peter Brock was just twelve years old when his love for sports cars was fostered. His next door neighbor had an MG TC, a two-seater with a hood like a grand plateau and graceful, sweeping fenders- the likes of which young Peter had never seen. Taking Peter for the occasional ride may not have meant much to the owner, happy to simply watch an automotive bud grow in a member of a new generation, though he could not have fathomed the significance of such actions in Peter’s mind.
By the age of sixteen Peter had saved enough money for a ’49 MG TC that was residing in the back of the shop where he worked, though it required extensive engine work. With its 1,250cc’s making roughly 55 horsepower, Peter followed the excited burble of his first car and found himself at racing events nearly every weekend. He recounts many nights spent sleeping under the fenders of his MG. It was at various tracks with his friends that Peter learned about racing from the inside, each event driving him deeper and deeper into the world of high-performance track driving.
When Brock started high school he found himself in the midst of other teenage gear heads, but they weren’t into sports cars like his neighbor, their focus was hot rods! Brock traded in his MG for a chopped and channeled ’46 Ford with a flathead Ford engine. He took it to the Oakland Roadster show where the car won its class. Brock was hooked on design. He installed a Cadillac V8 and painted the car white with two blue stripes over the top, in honor of his hero Briggs Cunningham who had just run a team of white and blue striped Corvettes at Le Mans in ‘55. The next year Brock again won his class at the Oakland Roadster show, this time with his “Fordillac” in its striking white and blue paint scheme. Design was becoming a focus for Brock.
Fast forward toward the end of the fifties and Peter’s time at GM Styling, and his design of the second-generation Corvette, was complete as 1958 approached. With no opportunities to work on sports cars in the foreseeable future at General Motors, Peter got his SCCA racing driver’s license and left the corporate world of Detroit for the Southern California race scene where he wished to pursue a professional racing career in his Cooper Climax. Once in California, Brock got a job working for Max Balchowsky of Old Yeller fame. Brock worked at Max’s Hollywood Motors chasing parts, sweeping the shop, and learning the arcane secrets of speed from one of California’s best tuners by day, and at night he used the shop to work on his Cooper.
It was at Hollywood Motors that Peter met Carroll Shelby, who had recently retired from a career as a professional racing driver due to a heart condition but was far from ready to be finished with the automotive world. Shelby’s next planned venture was a high-performance driving school, for which he hired Peter to manage the school and be the instructor. Later, when Shelby began to dream of creating his own racing car, Peter had hopes of being selected as a driver for Carroll’s new car. Those hopes would be struck down, however, when the performance of Shelby’s Cobra spread across the automotive world and top drivers lined up to pilot the punchy roadsters to victory wherever the SCCA would grid them. Brock never got his spot racing for Shelby but the attention of the Cobra brought not only drivers, but some of the best mechanics and engineers to Carroll’s shop as well. Brock spent his time working and learning alongside them as a test driver, eventually creating an entirely new body for the Cobra: that of the Daytona Cobra Coupe.
When the Daytona program was terminated amidst Ford’s takeover of Shelby, Brock found his services were no longer needed. In December of ’65 he founded his own design studio and race shop, and designed cars such as the Hino Samurai, Triumph TR-250K, Toyota JP6. Cars you can read about in our Design section.