Pepper had spent years restoring the 20,000-mile car with members of the Corvettes of the Bay car club (www.corvettesofthebay.org) in Green Bay. He purchased the car while working for the New York Jets. Team owner Ron Wolf had sold him the slightly customized Corvette in 1999. Wolf had obtained the car from Oakland Raiders personnel director, George Karras in 1997. Wolf then bought the car for his son, who did not like it and put only 641 miles on it.
The car was originally white. Its custom touches included a modified T-top, custom striping and side pipes. At some point, it’s believed that Karras changed the wheels. These modifications were still on the car when it was delivered to Pepper in July of 1999. What started as a quick restoration became an “unintended frame-off restoration.” The car was completely refinished. Pepper decided to have the seats done with genuine football leather inserts made by Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in its football factory in Ada, Ohio. While waiting for the seats, the car was sent for the alignment. The fire occurred on May 18, 2010.
The alignment shop had good insurance and the car was taken to Corvette Sports, Inc., in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., where it got its second complete restoration. Since the front end and firewall were very heavily damaged, a donor front clip was obtained. Since the car had already been customized a bit, it was restored in a custom Black Cherry color and “personalized” to a football theme.
A GM ZZ4 crate motor with 355 hp was installed. It had a Holley 750-cfm carb, a March serpintine belt system, a DeWitt aluminum radiator with dual electric fans, hooker headers and other upgrades. A Hurst Competition Plus shifter handled gear changes. A lot of attention was lavished on the Corvette’s football themed interior. By May 4, 2011, the car was mostly restored.
On June 5, it was photographed on the famed “tundra” of the Green Bay Packer’s home stadium, Lambeau Field. Normally, this would be impossible, as signs warn visitors, “Welcome to Lambeau Field. Enjoy this special place, but please, please stay off the playing field.” The field was under construction and Pepper was allowed to park his car on it for a short time.
When you lift the gas filler cap on the car’s rear deck lid, you can see the shiny Green Gold basecoat. When you lift the car’s hood you see the NFL logo on the underside, plus a Wilson football distributor cover and lots of chrome. The intake manifold, valve covers, low-restriction air creaner, brake master cylinder cover, generator, pulleys and other bits are all dressed up with bright metal. Bright-finished braided hoses complete a brilliant underhood appearance.
We first met Pepper when he displayed the Corvette at the Road America street car concours during the Kohler International Challenge in 2011. Pepper was enjoying sharing the fun of his car—and his Super Bowl ring—with spectators at the Saturday evening car show. The appearance of the car was rare, because while Pepper enjoys car shows, his Packer job eats up most of his time.