DOWNERS GROVE – The former Bill Kay Suzuki car dealership at 2100 Ogden Avenue could be transformed into Bill Kay Corvettes and Classics as early as May 1, according to Kay.
The lot was a Chrysler dealership for 43 years, closing during the Detroit automaker’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2008, Kay said. The brief experiment with Suzuki never panned out, he added, and the Japanese company eventually ended all United States auto sales in 2012.
Since then, the lot has sat empty. Kay explained that he’s excited to sell classic Corvettes – his favorite muscle car – along with other models from the era. The village council voted to authorize a special use for the lot in March.
“It’s the icon of the American muscle car, the American sports car,” Kay said. “And they’re fiberglass body, so they’re easier to restore than anything with a metal body.
“And they’re just cool looking.”
Kay’s favorite era is mid-year Corvettes from 1963-67 with the famous Sting Ray body style.
The initial stock of cars for sale will include some Corvettes from his own collection, Kay said, and he has hired Corvette expert Greg Cantu to locate more vehicles to fill the rest of the sales stock of about 50 cars.
“With his expertise and my capital, hopefully, we’ll have a successful business there,” Kay said.
Ideally, Kay wants the business to sell cars owners actually will tinker with and drive. Not every serial number from every part needs to match like they would in a museum.
“They’re the kind of cars you’d take to cruise nights,” he said. “It’ll be a place to find a selection of those kinds of cars. We’ve already done most of the work for you, used our expertise to narrow down the selection.”
Prices on his lot might range from $7,500 for a late-’70s or ’80s Corvette, to $75,000 for a Sting Ray.
“A major Corvette with a big block engine could be $150,000 – people who buy those, they buy or sell them,” he said. “They end up in collection and nobody drives them. We’re looking for more driver-style quality that you could enjoy.”
Kay has been a Chevrolet dealer for more than 20 years, and said he’s starting with what he knows best, and then will expand into different makes and models based on customer demand.
“You can go to an Enterprise and buy any number of identical cars,” he said. “They have a lot full of Malibus and Impalas. Those you can buy anywhere. These are unique cars.”