A Great (And Sometimes Only) Option For Corvette Repairs
Corvette restoration is a huge industry. More than 1.5 million Corvette vehicles have been produced since Chevrolet first introduced the make in 1953. A quick Google search for Corvette restoration guides brings more than 1.5 million results. Corvette owners consider it a hobby to maintain their pride and joy. That’s why Corvette owners demand the best parts for their vehicles. Many times, the best parts are used parts.
“There are aftermarket Corvette parts,” acknowledged Ron Desmedt, owner of Contemporary Corvette in Bristol, Pa. (www.contemporarycorvette.com), “but, the quality and fit is not what Corvette people like.”
Used Corvette parts have the distinct advantage of costing less than new parts. As with any used part, the savings can be 50-percent less than buying new from the original manufacturer. But, used parts also come with the “extras” that you’d have to buy separately from the dealership. For example, many times the splash shield will come with a Corvette fender, at no extra cost. A dealership could easily charge $50 to $100 for those extras.
“You are getting the same caliber of part, with all the extras, for basically half the price,” said Steve Stratmann, owner of C & S Corvettes in Sarasota, Fla. (www.corvettepartscenter.com).
Probably the biggest advantage to buying used Corvette parts is the sheer lack of availability of new or aftermarket parts for particular Corvette generations. The classic C1 and C2 generations (from 1953 - 1967) have so much value (a 1953 Corvette sold for a record $1.06 million at auction in 2006) that people rarely sell them.
C3 generation parts, from 1968 - 1982, are hard to find because many of these vehicles have already been restored, or are un-restorable, Desmedt explained. And, while Contemporary Corvette specializes in ’68 - current Corvette parts, Desmedt said the used parts for ’84 and newer are the most popular because of their availability. This is especially true for C5 Corvette (1997 - 2004). Desmedt said because of this later-model’s affordability, more owners drive these vehicles on a regular basis, not just for show. This requires regular maintenance: alternators, engines, transmissions, etc. Usually used parts are the only option for C5 repairs because of the lack of aftermarket parts for this generation, he explained.
Stratmann, of C & S Corvettes, which also specializes in C3 - C5 generations, said the lack of availability of new parts is also related to General Motors’ (GM) bankruptcy filing in 2009. When GM filed bankruptcy, many of its suppliers did as well. Those surplus parts were bought up by auto recyclers like he and Desmedt, and now can’t be found anywhere else.
“A lot of that stuff is now discontinued,” Stratmann explained. “Chevrolet dealers have to come to us to find those parts.”
C & S Corvettes has been open since 1974. It sells all types of used parts for Corvette collision repair. Aside from used parts and new GM surplus parts, the company also sells 35 different reproduction parts, like reconditioned door hinges.
In business since 1990, Contemporary Corvette has 400 - 500 Corvette vehicles at the full-service facility. Desmedt said he procures most of his vehicles through insurance auctions. He sells to repair shops, hobbyists and the emerging hot rod / street rod market.