How you can make money selling aftermarket parts and servicing Camaro's older brothers - Chevelle and Chevy II-Nova.
In the October and November 2007 issues of Styling & Performance magazine, we covered in depth the lucrative early- and late-model Camaro restoration and performance parts sales and service aftermarket and how they relate to your business's all-important "bottom line." In this issue, we cover Camaro's older brothers—the Chevy II-Nova and Chevelle product lines. Once again, we focus on both restoration and high-performance parts availability, the marque's sales potential and popularity, and most importantly, how to capitalize on said popularity and turn it into cold, hard cash.
THE CHEVY II-NOVA/CHEVELLE PARTS AFTERMARKET
Whenever you think of Gen-I Chevy II-Novas and Chevelles, you immediately conjure up images of Doug Thorley's wheel standing "Doug's Headers-Chevy II Much" match racer, which debuted in 1964, or Tom Sturm's 1965 Chevelle match racer "For Chevy Lovers Only," both of which were the fore runners of the modern-day funny car.
But those were basically "image cars." The reality is a modern-day Chevy II-Nova/Chevelle enthusiast movement exists with an increasing amount of consumer-owners coming into the "sport" at one end of the spectrum (like members from the National Nostalgic Nova Club or National Chevelle Owners Associations, for example) and participating SEMA/ARMO manufacturers developing new products on the other.
Traditionally, the Chevy II-Nova/Chevelle segment of the aftermarket parts industry is divided between restoration, estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-35 percent Chevy II-Nova and 35-40 percent Chevelle, while high-performance takes up the remainder of the pie. Let's look at the restoration side of the aftermarket first.
The restoration aftermarket covers body panels, hoods, fenders, floor pans, interior trim pieces, soft trim items like rubber molding and upholstery, exterior trim, and hard mechanical parts. Companies like Classic Industries Parts & Accessories-OER, Dynacorn International Inc., Goodmark Industries, National Parts Depot, The Paddock, Year One, Original Parts Group (OPG), and others support the hobby with top-quality GM Licensed Reproduction Parts manufactured by the likes of OER, DII Inc., Classic Soft Trim, PUI, Trim Parts, OPG, Distinctive Industries, Ted Williams Products, J-Ley, the Right Stuff, and numerous other manufacturers.
Conversely, the hard parts or "gear-head" segment of the Chevy II-Nova movement covers a much broader spectrum and includes manufacturers like American Racing, Barry Grant-Demon Carburetion, Billet Specialties, Bassani Xhaust, Edelbrock, Comp Cams, Crane, DART, Doug's Headers, Flowmaster, Holley-Weiand, Hooker Headers, Iskenderian, MSD, SCAT, TFS, World Products, and countless others.
THE CRATE ENGINE ADVANTAGE
In recent years, the crate engine segment of the Chevy II-Nova high-performance automotive aftermarket has made huge inroads with crate engines offering a number of advantages.
Price is one. The sum total of the whole is more often than not considerably cheaper than buying and installing engine parts piecemeal.
Peace of Mind is another factor. No more problems in dealing with local machine shops and engine builders.
Then there's overall quality. Most crate engines are built using all new engine components and, in most cases, are fully warranted against defects in parts and workmanship.
And finally, there's convenience. All you have to do is pick up your telephone or log on to an Internet site and your crate engine is on the way. Key players in the high-performance crate engine business include AER, Edelbrock, GM Performance Parts-Mr.Goodwrench, MSD, Smeding Performance, Street & Performance Inc., Summit, JEGS, Shaver Racing Engines, and World Products.
Getting the power to the pavement obviously requires a good drivetrain. Generally speaking, the Chevy II-Nova and early Chevelle use either the tried and true GM Powerglide or GM TH 350 & 400 automatic transmissions. However, in recent years, the GM 4L60E and 4L80E electronic overdrive transmissions have also found favor. Any and all of these transmissions are available from A-1 Automatics, ATI, B&M, Hughes Performance, Mike's Transmissions, TCI, TransGo, RaceTrans.com, and countless others.
In recent years, manual transmissions have made a noticeable comeback, especially with the release of the fifth gear/overdrive models like the BorgWarner T-5 and the Corvette-inspired BorgWarner T56 six-speed-overdrive transmission. The overdrive feature on these transmissions tends to smooth out and civilize Chevy II-Nova and Chevelle street machines running extremely low gear ratios. Participating companies like Keisler-Tremec, Richmond Gear, and Gear Vendors sell these state-of-the-art five-speed manual gear boxes and clutches, including assemblies from Centerforce, Hays, McLeod, and Zoom, to name a few.
Four types of OE rear ends are generally used underneath classic Chevy II-Nova and Chevelle street machines. First, there is the OE GM 10-bolt or heavy-duty GM 12-bolt live rear axle. Conversely, some owners prefer a Dana 44 or Dana 60 Series rear end. However, the most popular rear end of choice seems to be the Ford 9-inch live rear axle, whether it is a modified version of OE or an aftermarket unit, like Currie Enterprises 9+ or the Track 9. Participating companies include Currie Enterprises, Mark Williams Enterprises, Strange Engineering, Tom's Differentials, Zoom, Precision Gear, and Moser Engineering.
SUSPENSION AND FRAMES
Vintage Chevy II-Nova and Chevelle aftermarket suspensions generally fall into two categories—street and strip. Serious street performance enthusiasts looking to lower their cars' center of gravity while improving the ride and handling have a number of suspension options. Components available to them include upper control arm kits, high durometer polyurethane suspension bushings, coil-over shocks, dropped front spindles, heavy-duty anti-roll bars, spring kits, etc. Participating SEMA manufacturers, like Aldan Shocks, Bilstein, Energy Suspension, Hotchkiss Performance, McGaughy's, Fat Man Fabrications, Global West, Heidt's Hot Rod Shop, Jim Meyer Racing Products, KONI, L.A. Speed, SPC Performance, TCI, Just Suspension, and others, specialize in these products.
Conversely, if you're serious about Chevy II-Nova straight-line performance, you may want to consider upgrading your Gen-1 through Gen-III Chevy II-Nova to a complete sub frame/front suspension system like the 1962-67 front frame "clip" we saw on display in Chris Alston's Chassisworks booth at the 2007 SEMA Show. Other manufacturers, including Chassis Engineering, Moroso-Competition Engineering, Fat Man Fabrications, Heidt's Hot Rod Shop, JEGS, L.A. Speed, TCI, and others, offer similar products. Steering upgrades are also available from companies like Flaming River, ididit, Heidt's, or Unisteer Performance Products.
Since tire size seems to be a determining factor these days, "mini tubbing" or installing complete sub frames equipped with either ladder bar or four-link coil-over rear suspension is a definite must. Participating manufacturers include Chris Alston's Chassisworks, Chassis Engineering, Competition Engineering, JEGS, Jim Meyer Racing Products, and the like.
Another item that made its grand debut at the 2007 SEMA Show was the Roadster Shop's new 1964-72 Chevelle aftermarket frame. Engineering features include unequal length upper and lower tubular front suspension complete with a set of dropped spindles and front disc brakes, along with a heavy-duty, four-bar-suspended 9-inch Ford rear end equipped with Moser Engineering internals and QA1 adjustable coil-over shocks. Internally, this new frame features integrated mild steel tubing inner bracing (complete with driveshaft "hoops") with provisions made in the cross members to accommodate up to a 3-inch exhaust system. It's a real quality product.
And don't forget a good roll cage. Your customers and their passengers deserve no less. Participating SEMA-member companies like Chris Alston's Chassisworks, Chassis Engineering, Competition Engineering, JEGS, Jim Meyer Racing Products, and others offer top-quality roll bar and roll cage kits all pre-bent and ready for installation.
CLASSIC INDUSTRIES PARTS & ACCESSORIES
When it comes to Chevy II-Nova restoration, it isn't a Genuine GM (licensed) Restoration Part unless it says so on the label. Huntington Beach, California's Classic Industries Parts & Accessories is nationally recognized in the early-model GM muscle-car restoration parts aftermarket with parts lines covering Camaro, Firebird, Impala, Chevy Truck, and yes, Chevy II/Nova. As such, the company is one of the largest GM licensees with more than 5,000 officially licensed "Original Equipment Reproduction" (OER)-brand GM Restoration Parts to its credit. Of that number, Classic's Nova restoration parts line, which officially launched in 1988, represents approximately 10-15 percent of the total gross, and Classic Industries annually publishes a 650-page catalogue chock full of restoration-performance parts from OER, Edelbrock, Holley, B&M, Hurst, Skyjacker Suspensions, and other brands. "One of the things we're proud of is the fact that Classic Industries supports the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) division of SEMA. In fact, we've been with the organization since its inception," says Classic's General Manager Mark Vogt. "Having a voice in the industry, as far as legal representation is concerned, and one in Washington, D.C., is a definite plus."
CHEVY 2 ONLY
Mt. Washington, Kentucky's Chevy 2 Only was founded in 1981 as a swap-meet enterprise, and the business grew to the point where it was officially incorporated in 1993.
"The Chevy II-Nova is one of the last affordable muscle cars out there. As founder of Chevy 2 Only, I originally started out buying parts that I needed and was selling parts that I didn't at the local swap meets. Then, in 1982, we did our first article with Hemmings' Old Cars Weekly, and the business really took off," said Chevy 2 Only General Manager Joe Grom.
Today, Chevy 2 Only has 12 employees, and the company does a fairly brisk mail-order and Internet business operating out of its 15,000-square-foot warehouse. Product lines the company stocks include PUI Interior Products, ididit tilt steering columns, Air Ride Technologies, OER, Detroit Speed, and a full line of Chevy II-Nova-inspired parts manufactured by Heidt's Hot Rod Shop, Inc.
Chevy 2 Only also manufactures a complete line of products under the "Chevy 2 Only" brand name.
"We make hard parts, no pretty parts. We manufacture over 50 products in all. Our 700R4 Chevy II-Nova electronic overdrive transmission cross member is a big seller," said Grom.
Chevy 2 Only also manufactures a complete line of engine swap-frame mounts for most popular GM engine makes and an entire line of clutch linkage products.
"Business has been really healthy. Every year, we seem to experience double-digit increases, and it seems like it's been that way forever. We wholesale to all the big dealers, like Classic Industries Parts and Accessories, for example. It's just a great business to be in," said Grom.
Goodmark Industries was founded by Mark Hedrick and Walt Hendricks way back in late 1992 and primarily specializes in sheet metal replacement body panels and related components. One of the first products Goodmark marketed was a pair of outer wheel houses for early Mopars.
"Today, we employ between 25-30 employees and we have two locations located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Norwalk, California, and next spring, we're going to be opening our third location in Zelienople, Pennsylvania," said Goodmark Industries General Manager Mike Gray.
"GM muscle car sheet metal is our top seller, and Chevelle parts represent between 10-15 percent of our gross. We've more or less developed every body panel there is for 1970-72 Chevelle. We've got practically every body panel available for the 1966-69 Chevelle and we've just finished up on our 1964-65 Chevelle front fenders and rear quarter panels. Like other years, our objective is to develop a complete line of body panels for these cars," said Gray.
When it comes to Chevy II-Nova (which represents about 8-10 percent of Goodmark Industries' annual gross), Goodmark manufactures practically every sheet metal replacement part available including the company's new floor pan replacements for the 1963-74 models.
Goodmark Industries' sheet metal cowl induction hood line for Camaro, Chevelle, Chevy II-Nova, and GM light-duty trucks is another big seller.
"We're one of the leaders in the replacement body panel business and we've helped develop the strength of the market. It doesn't matter whether you're building a drag car, a pro touring car, or doing a restoration. Things wear out and rust and you've got to have replacement sheet metal or you can't restore the body of that 30-40-year-old classic. Goodmark Industries supplies most of the major distributors in the business with parts and we try to have the best quality product(s) out there that's available," said Gray.
AUSLEY'S CHEVELLE PARTS
When it comes to restoration parts and sales, the name "Ausley" and classic Chevelles and Chevelle El Caminos go hand in hand. National Chevelle Owners Association co-founder Roger Ausley founded Ausley's Chevelle Parts in 1980, and today, the Graham, North Carolina-based firm is a leader in the classic Chevelle parts and sales aftermarket.
"We don't do anything but Chevelles from 1964-72," says founder Roger Ausley. "There are a lot of other companies out there that do Chevelle, but they also do other stuff. We've been full-time Chevelle only since 1980 and we have customers from all over the world."
Ausley's Chevelle Parts stocks virtually every name brand Chevelle reproduction part available, including GM Restoration Parts, PUI, Trim Parts, The Right Stuff, DII, Metro Moulded Parts, Auto Custom Carpets, Ted Williams, OPG, and others.
Ausley's Chevelle Parts also sells reproduction Chevelle parts under its own wholesale division brand, "J-Ley."
"Being an importer of our own product line enables us to buy direct rather than go through a middleman. This provides us with a better price structure and can we pass those savings on to our customers," said Ausley.
By Ausley's own admission, walk-in traffic is not what keeps Ausley's Chevelle Parts in the black.
"We're in a small town and we probably couldn't survive strictly from our walk-in trade. Our primary revenue comes from mail order (through industry and trade) and our Internet Web site, www.chevelle.com. We also do anywhere from 23-25 shows a year (Ausley's has an impressive road show display) traveling as far as Indianapolis to West Palm Beach, Florida, to Englishtown, New Jersey.
"Recently, while attending the 2007 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, we trained our trusty Nikon digital on some of the top Chevy II-Novas and vintage Chevelles the sport has to offer," said Ausley.
A-1 Automatics (956) 682-4573 www.a1automatics.com
Air Ride Technologies (812) 481-4787 www.ridetech.com
AER (972) 418-6499 www.aermanufacturing.com
Aldan Shock Absorbers (310) 834-7478 www.aldaneagle.com
Alston's Chassisworks (916) 388-0288 www.cachassisworks.com
American Racing www.americanracing.com
ATI Performance Products (800) 284-3433 www.atiperformanceproducts.com
Ausley's Chevelle Parts (800) 228-7539 www.chevelle.com
Auto Custom Carpets (800) 352-8216 www.accmats.com
B&M (818) 882-6422 www.bmracing.com
Barry Grant-Demon Carburetion (706) 864-8544 www.barrygrant.com
Bassani Xhaust (714) 630-1821 www.bassani.com
Billet Specialties (708) 588-0505 www.billetspecialties.com
Bilstein Shock Absorbers 858-386-5900 www.bilstein.com
BorgWarner (248) 754-9200 www.bwauto.com
Centerforce (928) 771-8422 www.centerforce.com
Chassis Engineering (561) 863-2188 www.chassisengineering.com
Chevy 2 Only (502) 239-8487 www.chevy2only.com
Classic Industries Parts & Accessories (714) 847-6887 www.classicindustries.com
Classic Soft Trim (800) 460-0640 www.classicsofttrim.com
COMP Cams (800) 999-0853 www.compcams.com
Competition Engineering by Moroso (203) 453-5200 www.competitionengineering.com
Currie Enterprises (714) 528-9410 www.currieenterprises.com
Crane Cams (386) 258-6174 www.cranecams.com
Detroit Speed & Engineering (704) 662-3272 www.detroitspeed.com
Distinctive Industries (800) 421-9777 www.distinctiveindustries.com
Doug's Headers (909) 599-5955 www.dougsheaders.com
Edelbrock Corporation (310) 781-2222 www.edelbrock.com
Energy Suspension (949) 361-3935 www.energysuspension.com
Fat Man Fabrications (704) 545-0369 www.fatmanfab.com
Flaming River (440) 826-4488 www.flaming-river.com
Flowmaster (800) 544-4761 www.flowmastermufflers.com
Gear Vendors (800) 999-9555 www.gearvendors.com
Global West Suspensions (877) 470-2975 www.globalwest.net
GM Performance Parts www.gmperformanceparts.com
Goodmark Industries (562) 282-0285, (770) 339-8557 www.goodmarkindustries.com
Hays Clutches (216) 688-8300 www.haysclutches.com
Heidt's Hot Rod Shop (800) 841-8188 www.heidts.com
Hooker Headers (270) 781-9741 www.holley.com
Holley (270) 782-2900 www.holley.com
Hotchkis Performance (888) 735-6425 www.hotchkis.net
Hughes Performance (520) 624-4441 www.hughesperformance.com
Hurst Shifters (818) 483-1366 www.hurst-shifters.com
ididit (517) 424-6577 www.ididit.com
Iskendarian (323) 770-0930 www.iskycams.com
JEGS High Performance (800) 345-4545 www.jegs.com
Jim Meyer Racing Products 1-(800) 824-1752 www.jimmeyerracing.com
Just Suspension (800) 872-1548 www.justsuspension.com
Keisler-TREMEC (865) 609-8187 www.keislerauto.com
KONI (859) 586-4100 www.koni-na.com
L.A. Speed Shop (626) 795-1744 www.laspeedshop.com
Mark Williams Enterprises (303) 665-6901 www.markwilliams.com
McLeod (714) 630-2764 www.mcleodind.com
McGaughy's Suspension Parts (559) 226-8196 www.mcgaughys.com
Metro Moulded Parts (800) 878-2237 www.metrommp.com
Mike's Transmissions (661) 723-0081 www.mikestransmissions.com
Mr. Goodwrench www.goodwrench.com
Moser Engineering (260) 726-6689 www.moserengineering.com
MSD Ignition (915) 857-5200 www.msdignition.com
National Parts Depot (NPD) www.npdlink.com
Original Parts Group (OPG) (714) 230-6000 www.opgi.com
The Paddock Performance & Restoration (800) 428-4319 www.paddockparts.com
Precision Gear (734) 946-0524 www.precisiongear.com
PUI Interior Products (800) 342-0610 www.puiinteriors.com
QA1 (800) 721-7761 www.carrerashocks.com
Richmond Gear (864) 843-9231 www.richmondgear.com
The Roadster Shop (847) 949-RODS (7637) www.roadstershop.com
Scat (310) 370-5501 www.scatcrankshafts.com
Shaver Racing Engines (310) 370-6941 www.shaverengines.com
Skyjacker Suspensions (318) 388-0816 www.skyjacker.com
Smeding Performance (916) 638-0899 www.smedingperformance.com
SPC Performance (303) 772-2103 www.spcperformance.com
Strange Engineering (847) 663-1701 www.strangeengineering.net
Street & Performance, Inc (479) 394-5711 www.hotrodlane.cc
Summit (800) 230-3030 www.summitracing.com
TCI (662) 224-8972 www.tciauto.com
Tom's Differentials (208) 265-8111 www.tomsdifferentials.com
TransGo (626) 443-7451 www.transgo.com
Trim Parts (513) 934-0815 www.trimparts.com
Unisteer Performance Products (330) 425-9080 www.unisteer.com
Weiand (270) 782-2900 www.holley.com
World Products (631) 981-1918 www.worldcastings.com
Year One (706) 658-2140 www.yearone.com
*Zoom Performance Products (704) 799-0577 www.zoomclutch.com