The name Nickey-spelled with a backwards "k"-was synonymous with high performance Chevrolet products in the '60s. Established in 1925, Chicago-based Nickey Chevrolet backed some of the most famous names in motorsports, especially from the late '50s throughout the '60s. It started with the Harley Earl-designed '57 Corvette SR2, which Nickey purchased for road racing. That project led to the Bill Thomas-powered "Purple People Eater" championship Corvette in '58 driven by Jim Jeffords.
Then there was the Nickey-sponsored Chevrolet stock car driven by Fred Lorenzen; the A.J. Foyt-driven/Nickey Chevrolet-sponsored American Challenge Cup '63 Corvette road racer; Dick Harrell and Hayden Profitt's Nickey-sponsored Chevrolet Nova and Corvair-bodied match race Stockers, and Ron Colson's phenomenally successful Nickey Top Gas dragster. Suffice to say, Nickey Chevrolet's name was everywhere that GM's finest gathered in the name of speed.
The alter ego to Nickey Chevrolet's racing programs were the dealer's lightning-fast high performance street machines and the Nickey-Bill Thomas-engineered 427 Super Camaro project was the highest profile program of them all. Historically, Nickey and Thomas were responsible-with Chevrolet Division's Vince Piggins blessing-for the first 427 engine conversion into the all-new '67 Camaro introduced late '66; developing an engine swap kit in the process. This hot rod-inspired technology enabled two dealerships, one being Southgate, California's Dana Chevrolet out on the West Coast and Nickey Chevrolet in the Midwest to produce limited edition 427 Camaro supercars.
Nickey Chevrolet's original plan was to build at least 50 of these L72-powered Super Camaros to homologate them for AHRA Formula Stock, and NHRA Super Stock class racing. Unfortunately, after a serious financial restructuring of Nickey Chevrolet that same year, the Nickey 427 Super Camaro program was history with the swipe of an accountant's pen. Dick Harrell had also been terminated as a sponsored driver early in the '67 racing season. Nickey Chevrolet would eventually phase out of new car sales, but would continue to run its performance center under the "Nickey Chicago Speed Shop" banner until 1977, when tough economic times forced them to close their doors.
But what's this? The Nickey name is back, and building high performance Camaros once again.
"I've spent most of my life in the retail automotive business," says Nickey Chicago CEO Stefano Bimbi. "Prior to starting up Nickey Chicago, Inc., I was the director for a Fortune 100 company called "Auto Nation." I was also involved in a couple of niche market businesses, one which was a muscle car sales organization known as Bimbi's Car Craft. We established a reputation for finding our clients the finest muscle cars available: COPOs, Yenkos, Baldwin-Motion cars, and, of course, Nickeys. When I found out that the rights to the Nickey name were available, that provided me with the impetus to formally resign my position with Auto Nation, and set out to bring back the Nickey marque.
In 2004, Nickey Chicago, Inc. opened its doors not far from the original Nickey dealership and pretty much picked up where Bimbi's Car Craft had left off. With the actual release date set for the '10 Camaro, Nickey Chicago started laying the groundwork for its Gen V '10 Nickey 427 Camaro SS project. "These cars are true supercars in the Nickey Chevrolet tradition, and just like the originals, are available in Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III configurations, In fact, we actually used one of Nickey's original ads and plugged in all the modern components, and it just fit right."
Stage I is Nickey Chicago's entry level package, and consists of a distinctive Nickey L88-type hood, graphics and emblem package, along with a bolt on cold air induction system feeding a FAST intake, a custom tune, and custom exhaust. The factory 376cid, LS3 engine is power rated at 426 hp, while Stage I is rated at 500."