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Eckler's traces its origins back to 1961 when founder Ralph Eckler fabricated a one-piece hood for a crash-damaged 1960 Chevrolet Corvette in his father's Moline, Illinois, gas station, and subsequently opened a one-man body shop in nearby Rock Island. At that time, he had no way of knowing that his fiberglass molding efforts would be the start of a business empire.
Throughout the 1960s, the company built a notable reputation by offering high-quality, hand-crafted fiberglass body panels for the repair and customization of Corvettes.
The customization craze of the mid-'70s added more customers and more requests, prompting Eckler's Corvette to produce everything from fender flares and spoilers to full body kits (in Can-Am wide-body and shooting brake configurations). Later, he negotiated a deal with GM allowing Eckler's to reproduce discontinued parts for Corvettes that were necessary for the restoration and preservation of the cars.
In 1972, the company published its first catalog and distributed it to approximately 2,000 Corvette enthusiasts.
A Mississippi River flood in the early '70s destroyed inventory, along with a few customer cars, nearly bringing an end to the operation in Illinois. Looking for a location where he could indulge in his passion for Corvettes as well as his second passion, fishing, the company relocated to Titusville, Florida, location in 1973.
During the next two-plus decades through the '70s, '80s and mid-'90s, Eckler's built a strong reputation and sizable loyal customer following that would establish the company as the premier provider of aftermarket restoration and performance parts and accessories for Corvettes.
In 1997, Mr. Eckler retired and sold the company. In the years that followed, Eckler's implemented initiatives that converted the company into a sophisticated, industry-leading direct marketer. The company also began to establish itself as an acquisition platform, acquiring and successfully integrating Classic Chevy International and Late Great Chevy. Both acquisitions focused on Chevy lines and expanded Eckler's customer offering beyond Corvette.
Over the next five years, the company continued to successfully add product lines such as Rick's Camaro (2007), Danchuk's Chevelle (2007), The El Camino Store (2008), and Dearborn Classics (2010, mid- to large-body Fords).
During the past 10 years, Eckler's has been a leader in the ongoing consolidation of the direct-to-consumer automotive aftermarket. Management has successfully acquired and integrated numerous businesses ranging in size and product offerings as the company continues to leverage its scale and experience to absorb new titles.
In 2012, Eckler's aquired MAC's Antique Auto Parts. Founded in Lockport, New York, in 1978 by Douglas McIntosh, MAC's is the dominant source of parts for Model T, Model A, and Ford V8 vehicles. With the acquisition of MAC's, Eckler's became the leading source of restoration parts and accessories for Ford and Chevrolet vehicles.
In 2013, Eckler's celebrated the completion of its 180,000 square foot, state-of-the-art warehouse facility at the Grissom Centroplex in Titusville, Florida. The new fulfillment center allows Eckler's to stock a wider range of product and process orders faster and more efficiently than ever before. It is part of Eckler's continued effort to drive improvements in customer service.
From those humble beginnings, Eckler's Corvette has grown to become one of the largest suppliers in the industry, today delivering restoration parts and accessories for a range of Chevrolet, Pontiac and Ford models under various divisions.