November '15

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124 The Shop November 2015 shops restore Corvettes over the years, but he sees the niche moving in two new directions—one toward resto- mods and the other toward younger people showing renewed interest in Corvettes. Both trends are good for his sales of Corvette parts and accessories. "Among owners of C2 and C3 Cor- vettes, we're seeing strong interest in restorations where they restore the car body-wise and trim-wise and then completely upgrade the engine and driveline," Yager explains. "And I think that's kind of cool in that the cars are timeless, so they need cor- rect colors and emblems, but then the owners punch the cars up in horse- power and brakes. I kind of include that in the restoration niche, because it's a big segment these days for shops and garages and, obviously, we sell to both those markets." Yager cites the cases of people with an award-winning car. "They said, 'OK, we've done that, now it's time to try something new and update the car,'" he explains. "They pulled the engine, radiator, transmission, tires and wheels, but they didn't cut the car up like people did years ago. They brought it up to today's specs and had fun. So, it went from a new car to a less-than-new car, to perfectly restored, to a car they can take to a cruise-in, spin the wheels and not feel bad." MARKET SWING On an annu- a l i z e d b a s i s , Mid America Motorworks deals with 100,000 unique Corvette customers and Yager says that the future has brightened up in the niche due to the new C7 Corvette. "Before the crash of 2008, General Motors was selling 30,000 Corvettes a year, but then sales dropped down to 8,000-9,000 units per year," he notes. "I think the car had really fallen a bit off target and when they're not selling over 25,000 a year, that's a lot of lost market share. So, GM looked at the performance aspect, the price and the styling and designed an all-new Cor- vette that lifted the market right up again. For $70,000 a young person can get a car that spanks everything else—and it's a good car, too." Yager believes that the C7 Corvette has brought a younger person to the market and that this swing benefits the restoration market, too. "The C7 Corvette has turned young people into Corvette people again," he insists. "They may get turned on by the C7, but then they look at their budget and maybe they buy a C6 or a C5 or even a C4. All I know is that I'm seeing more young people in Cor- vettes than I've ever seen in the past 20 years and our sales reflect that." Terry Michaelis of Pro Team Cor- vette ( reports that the Corvette restoration niche is busy lately. "There's a lot of business we turn away because we can't keep up with it," he says. Michaelis says that newer Cor- vettes are being restored at home by their owners and that it is the older pre-1978 models that wind up in professional restoration shops. "How c o u l d y o u get out of a '78 Corvette if you have $40,000 to $60,000 into restoring it?" he asks. "The cars that are going to professional shops are C1s and C2s and the more valu- able C3s like the L88s and the ZR1s." Michaelis points out that top restorers like Mackay are getting $200,000 minimum to do a Corvette racing car restoration. He says that a typical C1 or C2 model will cost $100,000 to $125,000 to restore. "Maybe $150,000, so some auction purchases and prices realized are pretty damn good when you consider the cost of a first-class restoration today." Like many in the Corvette niche, Michaelis favors social media as the best way to reach potential restora- tion clients, but he adds that a typical shop is run by "hardworking guys who aren't handy at networking." He says he majored in direct mail advertising and once had a mailing list with 350,000 names, but he hasn't done a mailing since 2009. "Instead of direct mail, a good way to get customers is to take one of your restorations out to a show and display it to attract clients. You've got to go to where the consumer is and display your fine restoration—it's just the old- school way to market a restoration." Owners bring their restored Corvettes to the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals each November to compete for Triple Diamond certification. hoT Rod & CuSTomizaTion John Tinberg of Dwight, Illinois, restored this Corvette for Nickey Performance as a "gasser" style racing car.

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