Mid America Motorworks founder authors guide to Corvettes

By BILL LAIR, Managing Editor
blair@jg-tc.com

EFFINGHAM — Interested in a Corvette? Here’s a tip from Mid America Motorworks’ Chief Cheerleader Mike Yager:

Buy a 1970 model.

On page 102 of Yager’s “Corvette Bible,” the founder of Mid America Motorworks writes: “These cars are coming on strong — the collection builders of tomorrow.”

Just about everything you want to know about Corvettes, from the sports car’s 1953 launch through the 2007 model, is in “Mike Yager’s Corvette Bible,” a 302-page guide to everything Corvette.

It’s a year-by-year look at Corvettes with Yager’s Cheers (“It was America’s fastest car at 150 mph”), Jeers (“These cars are expensive to repair and don’t show the return of the 1962 version”) and Cool Stuff (“Production of over 53,000 Corvettes was an all-time record. So was the $10,000+ price tag for the base model”).

Corvettes are collector’s items, Yager said, and this bible is an effort to help enthusiasts know what to expect when looking for a Corvette.

“It’s not a price guide but a value guide,” Yager said.

As an example, Yager said one 1967 Corvette can fetch $280,000 at auction. Another might bring $25,000, but the owner of that Corvette may think he can sell it for $280,000 because the other ’67 brought that amount.

But it depends on many factors.

“A common one is worth X amount of dollars but an uncommon one is hard to gauge,” Yager said. “A guy could sink a ton of money into it but it isn’t worth what he paid for it.”

Yager’s “Corvette Bible” provides insight into what buyers should look for and know about each Corvette.

“If you’re a collector, how do you make sure you don’t spend more than something is worth?” he said of the book’s theme.

Yager has a passion for Corvettes and has collected books and other literature about the Corvette. In addition, he said, several others at Mid America Motorworks with 30-35 years of knowledge of Corvettes contributed to the book.

“They would tell me, ‘You forgot this’ or ‘You missed this,’” he said.

The book, by Krause Publications, sold out of its initial 8,000 press run last year and is in a second printing.

It’s available at major bookstores.

“It’s not on their best-seller list but it’s also not on the discount table,” he joked.

On Amazon.com last week, it was listed at No. 8 among non-fiction auto books.

The 1962 Corvette is the car that launched Yager’s “puppy love.”

The youngest of nine children who grew up in Jasper County, Yager’s older brother was a truck driver and had just purchased a Corvette which Yager had not yet seen.

“I was riding with him on a trip and we were going through St. Louis late in the afternoon and my brother saw a car just like his and pointed it out to me.”

It was a silver 1962 Corvette.

“I remember the car, the angle of the sun and a lot about that moment,” Yager said. “From that moment forward ....”

Yager now owns a ’62 Corvette. The first one he bought, however, was a 1967 model. He bought it when he was 20 years old.

Yager started a Corvette Club in Effingham that eventually had members from throughout East Central Illinois. He later got involved with Corvette clubs on a national level.

“It became a passion,” he said. “I believe in passion. If you are passionate about what you do, you can make a living at it when others don’t.”

Yager borrowed $500 and began selling car manuals and other accessories from the trunk of a borrowed car.

He still has a copy of the loan agreement and his first purchase order — 11 manuals at $1 each.

Today, Mid America Motorworks has customers in 130 countries, has added air-cooled Volkswagens to its offerings, attracts thousands to its annual VW and Corvette Funfests and now has published a bible for collectors.

Contact Bill Lair at blair@jg-tc.com or 238-6865.