Article and Pictures contributed by Jason Giacchina / Corvette Forum
When it comes to the Corvette, custom looks can range from subtly menacing to downright gaudy. Fortunately companies like SS Vette fall firmly in the former category. As a result, even in this topsy-turvy economy, the company remains strong with an ever-expanding catalog of Vette parts and a presence at this year’s SEMA show.
We had an opportunity to talk with Don Claus of SS Vette to gain some insight on what it takes to not just survive these rough economic times, but to literally flourish in them. The formula begins with 20-years of experience in the automotive body construction business, and parts that are engineered to fit like GM’s OEM pieces.
Don says the SS Vette legacy started in September 2007 and unofficially began nearly a year earlier when he ordered a single 2007 Yellow Z06 (back in October of 2006). Don had been designing ram air hoods with APM Automotive and decided to break away to start a company that would focus entirely on body enhancements for the C6 platform.
What manifested were two extreme kits; one with a 3″ over rear and a 1.5″ over OEM spec. The goal was to maintain the uniquely “Corvette” look of the car while appealing to the more aggressive physically nature typically associated with high-end exotics. Don saw an immediate need for such a market; claiming that there were no shortage of performance companies popping up to focus on the C6 but very few body kit builders who weren’t overdoing it. The balance he sought would be closer to the OEM side of the fence with just enough custom appeal to command respect.
Opting to make conversions himself, Don initially posted his services on eBay and limited his marketing to friends and their forum posts. The tactic gained attention as before long a forum company offered to trade a kit for a campaign. Don obliged, realizing that search-engine-optimized forum posts showing off some of the extreme Corvettes he had built would be key to getting noticed. And noticed he was as vendors and shops began inquiring on stocking SS Vette’s kits.
Once the kits were distributed, Don decided the time had come to elevate the firm’s marketing strategy. With over $200,000 and 4-years invested in the business, Don has decided to become a part of the family here at Corvetteforum.com and while it’s too early to confirm just yet, there may even be a custom built C6 based on the Corvette Forum logo in SS Vette’s near future!