THE SHOP

November '15

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November 2015 The Shop 123 hoT Rod & CuSTomizaTion in restoring only certain parts of a Corvette. Glassworks: The Hardtop Shop (www.thehardtopshop.com) of Imperial, Pennsylvania, special- izes in restoring 1956-1975 Corvette removable hardtops. Glassworks makes parts for these hardtops and sells do-it-yourself kits or an in-shop restoration service. Chicago Corvette Supply (www. chicagocorvette.net) offers a Corvette carburetor restoration service. At Jerry Bramlett's Ramjets That Run shop (www.jerrybramlett.net) the specialty of the house is restoring the Rochester Ramjet fuel-injection system used on Corvettes from 1957 to 1965. A SOPHISTICATED NICHE The Corvette restoration business is a very sophisticated niche with great opportunities for shops to advertise and promote their products and ser- vices. There are hundreds of Corvette clubs, dozens of Corvette-specific publications and any number of Corvette websites. Major Corvette-only events such as the Corvettes @ Carlisle show (www. carlisleevents.com), Bloomington Gold (www.bloomingtongold.com), Corvette Funfest (www.corvettefun- fest.com) and Corvette Adventures (www.corvetteadventures.com) can help shops reach Corvette owners who may be potential restora- tion customers. David Bur- roughs is the founder of the Bloom- ington Gold Corvette s h o w a n d created the Survivor and Benchmark categories for judging Cor- vettes. Today, Burroughs runs Prove It Authentica- tions (www.prove-it.net) a service that documents the history and authen- ticity of collector cars. "I don't know if the market for professional Corvette restorations is doing well," Burroughs says, "but I think there must be significant chal- lenges in Corvette restorations due to the maturity of the market." Burroughs doubts that restorations of Corvettes of any vintage will reach the level of 10-20 years ago. He feels the best way for a shop to connect with people wanting to restore a Cor- vette is to "do outstanding work and show it to industry leaders, collectors and people with network connec- tions. Be honest and communicate. Find a mentor with no axe to grind. If you can sustain a Corvette restoration business through a seasoning period, the market will find you." PRESERVE OR RESTORE Burroughs feels that a good restorer is one who i s s m a r t enough to know when to preserve— i n s t e a d o f restore—a car. He favors an all-original restoration over modifications or upgrades. To him a Corvette resto-mod is "like Lady Gaga compared to Aretha Franklin." He adds, "Comparing res- toration to preservation is like com- paring an Elvis impersonator to Elvis himself. One isn't necessarily better in absolute terms; only in terms of people's tastes at the time." Burroughs feels the most diffi- cult part of restoring a Corvette is gaining enough personal experience by studying untouched, unrestored, original cars in excellent condition and having the willpower to ignore both what the "experts" say in maga- zine articles, as well as cars on the show field that are often inaccurately restored. Burroughs says he wanted to change the national trend in the early '70s from customizing to preserving. "I studied low-mileage original Corvettes and made notes, diagrams and photos before disassembly of a car," he notes. Burroughs had been a certified aircraft mechanic. He says he made mistakes, admitted them and corrected them on the next project. Each time he restored another Cor- vette he used more research, practice and patience. "I took the time to do it right— not fast," he says. He averaged 4,000 hours over four years (with most time in research) for each museum-grade Corvette restoration. NO FEELING BAD Mike Yager of Mid America Motor- works (www.mamotorworks.com) has helped thousands of consumers and Mike Yager introduced the C7 Corvette at his 2013 Corvette Funfest and believes that this new car is reviving general interest in all Corvettes. Shops can also benefit from the strong Cor- vette enthusiasm by selling and installing car care products such as XPEL self-healing paint protection film.

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