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Nickey Chevrolet (AKA: "Nickey Chicago") was a Chevrolet automobile dealership located in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Founded in 1925 and run for many years by brothers E.J. and Jack Stephani, Nickey Chevrolet became one of the largest factory dealerships, specializing in high performance muscle car sales and service. Nickey Chevrolet's Service Department performed numerous hot rod conversions, and their parts department functioned as a huge speed shop.
Nickey Chevrolet was originally established in the 1920s at 4120 Irving Park Road (at the corner of Kedvale and Irving Park Road). When the Kennedy expressway was built in the 1950s, Nickey Chevrolet moved to 4501 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago. Ultimately, Nickey Chevrolet grew to a huge 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) facility. Nickey Chevrolet began its high performance parts business in 1957. Their "Purple People Eater" Corvettes became well-known, as did their logo with a backwards "K". Nickey Chevrolet became General Motors' largest volume selling dealership for both vehicles and parts, many of the high-performance variety.
The service department specialized in engine swaps, transplanting 427 cubic inch displacement (CID) "Big Block" Chevy engines into the very first 1967 Camaros, and soon there after into Novas, Chevelles, Impalas and even Corvettes. Nickey Chevrolet modified hundreds of cars to their customers’ specifications. A customer could walk into the dealership, pick out a car, and then have it modified to their taste. Most of these domestic modified cars are maintained in museums or private collections and are rarely seen in public.
The dealership was sold in 1973, and became Keystone Chevrolet. The key players who built Nickey's performance cars and image moved to a new location on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. The New Speed Shop and Automobile Conversion Center was named "Nickey Chicago". They continued to build legendary Hi-Performance Chevys until 1977 when the speed/performance shop finally closed its doors.
In 2002 a muscle car collector and enthusiast, Stefano Bimbi, purchased the legal rights and trademarks for the Nickey brand. The new company, Nickey Performance, located in Saint Charles, Illinois, builds, sells and services vehicles branded as Nickey Super Cars, and has also taken steps to establish a registry for Nickey-modified cars.
- Mike Mueller (2017). Camaro: Fifty Years of Chevy Performance. Motorbooks. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-0-7603-5034-8.
- Arvid Svensen, "The Last Nickey Camaro", Hot Rod, February 21, 2014.
- Jim Mueller, "Provenance puzzle lacks only backward K: Owner of souped-up 1970s Nova traces its roots to learn whether it's the rarest Nickey machine", Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2007.