Car-o-nado: Navy Dad’s Car Helped Start a Love of Unique Cars

Brendan Prout dressed as a Stormtrooper to drive his dad’s Fiat in the Coronado Fourth of July parade.

Car enthusiast Brendan Prout’s love of automobiles was passed down fromboth his grandfather and his father Rear Admiral James G. Prout III. His father purchased his most prized car, a 124 Fiat Spider, new in 1973, and treated it with kid gloves as his Sunday car. It only has 23,000 original miles on it and Brendan is in the process of restoring it. He has driven it in several Fourth of July parades here in his father’s memory. He fondly remembers road trips in various locales as the Navy moved them all over the country, to Hawaii, Boston, Rhode Island, Washington DC, the Bay Area, and of course Coronado. “I had the privilege to drive it as the getaway car when my wife and I got married 20 years ago. It holds a lot of sentimental value,” he comments.

In his early 20s, when he got into auto racing, his instructors discovered he had a natural feel for the track, and he started racking up rankings, eventually becoming an instructor at Willow Springs International Raceway.  From 2010 through 2017, he was in the top 99.99% percent of nine million recorded races for track times.  He still occasionally races recreationally and hopes to do more this year.  Brendan has been in ministry for 20 years and is currently the worship pastor at Quest Church in El Cajon.

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Having moved around the country as a Navy family with his brother Gregory and sister Heather, Brendan says Coronado is by far his favorite place to live. “I love the Americana vibe of the island. It’s like dialing back the clock 50 years, especially in recreational ways like riding bikes everywhere and walking to the beach or to get ice cream.”  His mom Kathy is well known in Coronado and recently successfully spearheaded lobbying efforts to repeal the Widow’s Tax Legislation that will benefit 63,000 surviving spouses with more than two dozen here in Coronado. Brendan has lived off and on in Coronado starting in 1974 when his Navy father, RADM James G Prout III, and his family was first stationed here. Admiral Prout lost his life in a flight mission in 1995 and was the first person inducted into the Avenue of Heroes in Coronado.

Enjoying a cross country road trip on Historic Route 66 in his VR6 Corrado

Growing up, Brendan always remembers being around cars and learned to work on them. With a Navy father who was often away, sometimes for 280 days at sea, “my mom and I had to learn to fix our cars to keep them running,“ he comments. He still does all the mechanical restoration work on his fleet of seven cars. His 2003 Jetta is his daily driver with more than 177,000 miles. I was astonished to learn that his wife previously drove a 1989 Jetta with 671,000 miles and only retired it because of an accident.

“I gravitate to weird and quirky cars. For example, not everyone has heard of the Corrado, (of which he has had four), which is a German sports coupe that had only 1500 imported, and only 200 are left here in the U.S. The handling is the best and they are fun, fast, and scream down the road.” He points out that Jeremy Clarkson, of Top Gear, commented that “a Corrado VR6 is as close as you can get to owning a Ferrari without actually owning a Ferrari.”

Racing his R32 during Fastivus at the California Speedway.

The only new car he has ever purchased is his R32. He calls it his German sports car, that’s part Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen combined to decimate other cars in racing. “With a Porsche Cayenne motor, an Audi all-wheel drive chassis and a Volkswagen Golf body, this car is a pocket rocket,” he says.

A member of the San Diego Car Enthusiasts Club, Brendan attends as many car shows as he can. He started taking his kids when they were little, and his daughter gained a love of cars at an early age. When she was just three or four, she was up on his shoulders and called out “Daddy, there’s a Ferrari.”  The owner then asked her if she knew what kind it was, to which she replied, “a 275 GTB Ferrari.” Brendan says that she has extensive car knowledge and with her daredevil personality hopes to be a Navy fighter pilot and Admiral like her grandfather one day. His son likes cars but is more into computers and technology.

Brendan definitely drives more than the average person, estimating that he has logged at least two million miles. He loves to “drive fast” as the motto on his email indicates.  When his kids were little, they thought that driving with daddy was like going on a roller coaster, but he admits that he has slowed it down a bit.

He considers surviving his harrowing accident a miracle. His newly restored Corrado didn’t fare so well.

His love of cars never wavered even after he accidentally drove off a cliff in Malibu in 2011, in his newly restored Corrado for a magazine shoot. When the unstable cliff gave way, he found himself hurtling down a 300-foot canyon but feels blessed to have walked away alive. The harrowing experience gave him a renewed sense of purpose in life, especially in his role as a pastor. Brendan loves the car culture in San Diego and Coronado and it’s safe to say that unusual cars will always be a part of his life.

 

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Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com