Corvette expert sees industry niche moving two ways
Mike Yager of Mid America Motorworks (www.mamotorworks.com) has helped thousands of consumers and shops restore Corvettes over the years, but he sees the Corvette niche moving in two new directions as 2019 concludes — one towards resto-mods and the other towards 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 Corvettes, we’re seeing strong interest in restorations where they restore the car body-wise and trim-wise and then completely upgrade the engine and drive line,” Yager said. “And I think that’s kind of cool in that the cars are timeless, so they need correct colors and emblems, but then the owners punch the cars up in horsepower 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 cited the case 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,’” Yager noted. “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.”
On an annual basis, Mid America Motorworks deals with 100,000 unique Corvette customers and Yager said that the future has brightened up in the niche due to the C7 Corvette, which was just phased out of production in anticipation of mid-engine C8 production. “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,” Yager explained. “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 (C7) Corvette 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.” And now that the C7 has been discounted to make room for the forthcoming C8, bargains on new Corvettes abound at dealerships.
Yager believes that the C7 Corvette 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 insisted. “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 Corvettes than I’ve ever seen in the past 20 years and our sales reflect that.”