Classic cruisin'
Brookfield resident has rich history of designing and building cars

By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff

June 11, 2016

Stan Johnson looks at his Silver Bullet dragster, which he sold several decades ago, but was able to piece together again from parts he discovered in Canada.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff


BROOKFIELD - Stan Johnson is the definition of cool with his hands in his jean pockets and a swagger as he walks about his Brookfield office. There are multiple vehicles, each with history caked into the crevices of the tires. His love of cars wasn’t passed on to him from his parents.

“I just had this interest building model cars and fullsize real cars,” Johnson said.

He started drag racing out of high school and he continues doing it to this day. His interest in cars has led him on the road to engineering. He knew he wasn’t going to make a living “playing with cars” which he joked pays poorly. As an industrial engineer, he owned a 40-year business designing and manufacturing parts, which he said is his greatest achievement. Some of his clients included Coca-Cola, Briggs & Stratton Corporation and Harley-Davidson. While semiretired, he maintains his cars, but also works as a forensics expert for law firms.

A trail of photos and artifacts

In another room are pictures of Johnson and his two sons. Also on the wall is a picture with Alan Kulwicki, an American NASCAR Winston Cup Series race car driver. Johnson said Kulwicki was a dear friend.

A black-and-white 1930 photo of an attractive woman sitting on a 1930 motorcycle also hangs nearby. Behind her is the headquarters of Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee. The stairway still exists in the building. It is a picture Johnson found in his mother’s belongings.

“My mom knew I liked cars and later on she told me she was a secretary of Harley-Davidson,” Johnson said. He started laughing over the fact that his mom didn’t tell him about her job. Also frozen in pictures are Jay Leno and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of his heroes.

“She was the most respected and positive country leader, she was always right,” he said.

Johnson also has autographs from race car driver Danica Patrick and other memorabilia.

Silver Bullet

In 1965 Johnson, his brother and a good friend built a car called “Silver Bullet.” In 1969 he sold it to someone from Canada and started his business. Decades later a friend happened to stumble across a part of the car on the internet, leading Johnson to begin the journey of building the car for a second time.

“With real determination I built the car all over again,” Johnson said.

After three years he had 70 percent of Silver Bullet.

The “reloaded” Silver Bullet was built exactly how it was in the 60s — from scratch and with only a few purchased parts.

The car was completed in 2014 and has been amazing car show enthusiasts around the country with the 400 horsepower created by its 1966 Dodge 273 engine.

Children love visiting the car, especially Cub Scouts who visit his office to find inspiration for their pinewood derby cars.

While he is thrilled kids are taking an active role in the future of classic vehicles and custom made cars, he is not ready to close the hood just yet.

“You can’t do anything about getting old, but you can control maturity,” Johnson said.

Johnson remembers his mom asking when he will grow up and someone telling him to act his age. The successful businessman and engineer smiles with a twinkle in his eyes. “No, that is not an option,” he said.