The world's oldest family-owned Ford dealership has become part of the automaker's newest customer concepts - the Auto Care stand-alone service facility.
Tenvoorde Ford, St. Cloud, MN, opened Ford's eighth Auto Care facility on Eighth Avenue S.E. about four miles east of the dealership on Roosevelt Road.
Owner Jack Tenvoorde, grandson of founder Stephen Tenvoorde, calls the Auto Care focus "bringing the service function of the dealership to customers' neighborhoods."
Tenvoorde Ford opened in 1903 - the same year Ford Motor Co. was organized.
The Tenvoorde Auto Care has 10 service bays, all of which can be watched by customers while their vehicles are being repaired. A children's play area and a coffee lounge are part of the layout.
"Auto Care centers have generated high levels of customer satisfaction and have been successful in recapturing Ford, Lincoln and Mercury owners from the independent aftermarket," says Mike Lombardi, North American business development manager for the company's Customer Service Division.
Another new service concept expanded at Ford was the in-dealership Quick Lane, the 13th of which was opened by Homer Cox Ford, Christiansburg, VA.
Quick Lanes are dedicated facilities with extended hours that offer maintenance work, brake alignments and the like.
Other Auto Cares are in Naugatuck, CT; Jacksonville, FL; Topeka, KS; Irvine and Fallbrook, CA, and Tucson, AZ (two locations).
An Auto Care owned by a group of Ford and L M dealers closed after a year's operation in San Antonio, TX.
Other Quick Lanes are in Longwood, FL; Bridgeton, NJ; Independence, MO; Port Charlotte, FL; Houston; Woodstock, GA; Scottsdale, AZ; Lancaster, CA; Wichita, KS; Huntsville, AL; New Brighton, MN and Prairieville, LA.
Chevrolet dealers who specialize in Corvettes have an opportunity to offer customers perhaps the ultimate Corvette - the Corvette GTR, by Specter Werkes/Sport Inc. of Troy MI.
The Corvette GTR upgrade, which adds between $32,000 and $48,000 to the price of a stock Corvette, has been available exclusively at Jack Cauley Chevrolet in West Bloomfield, MI, and Purifoy Chevrolet in Denver. Nine of the GTRs have been sold to date.
"We're looking at adding more dealers," says Jeff Nowicki, president of Specter Werkes. "We'd like to add as many as possible.
"We're targeting (10) high-volume Corvette dealers who know how to market aftermarket cars," he says, adding that targeted dealers are on the East Coast, Florida, Texas, Scottsdale, AZ, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oregon.
Specter, which also designs and builds show cars for GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, currently has the capacity to produce 25 Corvette GTRs per year. Mr. Nowicki says that can be expanded if demand increases.
The Corvette GTR is available as a roadster or a coupe. Each body style has two packages. One is an appearance package that has an upgraded suspension. That costs an additional $32,000 over the price of a stock Corvette.
The second package, for an additional $48,000, adds a 465-hp engine and exhaust upgrade to the appearance enhancements.
"It sounds like a lot, but it's cheaper than a Porsche Turbo, which costs $125,000, or a Ferrari 355, which costs $140,000," says Mr. Nowicki.
The standard transaction starts with a customer deposit. The dealer then orders a stock Corvette from the factory, which delivers it to Specter Werkes in Troy, MI. Four or five weeks later, the vehicle is delivered to the dealer for customer pickup. During that month or so in Troy, Specter Werkes replaces all of the Corvette's stock panels, except for the roof, hood and rear deck. The fiberglass panels are direct, bolt-on replacements for the stock panels, including front fenders, front fascia, rear fascia, door skins and the fuel filler door. When finished, the GTR's body swells six inches wider than stock, enhancing the Corvette's styling cues.
Specter Werkes also adds 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels and tires, and GTR ornamentation, embroidered seats and numbered serial plaque.
Although 1999 Corvettes are most popular for the supercar treatment, Specter Werkes also will convert 1997 and 1998 Corvettes to GTRs.