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Car-Crazy Entrepreneurs Abound At SEMA Aftermarket Show

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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By Jeff Gilbert

LAS VEGAS (WWJ) – The growth of the automotive aftermarket has created a lot of opportunity for people with a business sense and a love of cars — and you’ll find those entrepreneurs throughout the SEMA Show.

You can lower your car, raise your SUV, and add power to just about anything. And if you want to build your own ’57 Chevy, no problem!

“We’ll sell you a brand new 57 Chevy convertible body, and all the parts to put it together,” said Dale Keesee of Danchuck Manufacturing in Santa Ana, California.

Dale Keesee shows off his Chevy symbol tattoo. (credit: Jeff Gilbert/WWJ)

Dale Keesee shows off his Chevy symbol tattoo. (credit: Jeff Gilbert/WWJ)

His company makes replacement parts for people who are restoring 55-57 Chevrolets, and now contracts with other companies that build full bodies for those vehicles.

“You wouldn’t believe the market.  It’s unreal,” Keesee said.

One of Keesee’s first cars was a 55 Chevy.

“I’m a, I guess, what you’d call a General Motors bow tie nut,” he said.  “I’ve got the Chevrolet bow tie tattooed all over me.”

Just outside Dale’s exhibit, SEMA attendees were getting to take hot laps in a brand new Corvette Stingray.

And if the 460 horsepower that comes standard in the new Stingray wasn’t enough, there are people at SEMA finding ways to get more power out of the vehicle.

Lingenfelter Performance Engineering specializes in building high powered Corvettes and Cadillacs.  They’ve been working with the new Corvette engine for a while.

“We made 720 horsepower with it, when we took it off the engine dyno last week,” said CEO Ken Lingenfelter.  “We’ll take it back and we’ll put it back up and find ways to have it make more.”

Dodge fans will find a modern vehicle with a 70’s twist, the Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker.

“Designed for muscle-car buffs who can’t help but tinker with their toys, the Challenger R/T Shaker features the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine producing over 400 lb.-ft. of torque, with a functional Shaker hood with Mopar cold-air intake, conical air filter and optimized air box for improved airflow and performance,” read the official announcement.  “Lift the hood and enthusiasts will also be treated to an under-hood ‘Shaker’ badge – reminiscent of the 1970s original.”

Dodge also bringing several “moparized” vehicles, with special designs from the Mopar performance parts theme, and the return of “Skat Packages” with accessories for the Challenger, Charger and Dart.

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