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David H. Bermen, owner of Corvette Specialties, LLC, is a living, breathing Wikipedia of Corvette knowledge of the history of the American performance car.

The business is located at 1616 E. Sixth St. in the Pearl District. Bermen bought what was once Corvette and Specialties by Rudy at after Rudy Fickart retired.

Bermen has spent a lifetime building cars and started working with Fickart five years ago.

“I took over the mechanics of the cars and he did the body shop,” Bermen said. “Now, obviously I do both.”

Fans of Darryl Starbird’s Rod and Custom Car Show, or the Street Rod Custom Car Show at Pine Mountain Village in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, or even the Barrett Jackson Auction have seen much of Bermen’s work.

The Choctaw Indian has a doctorate in computer science and a background in aviation, which he applies to designing Corvettes and European sport cars such as Lamborghini and Porsche.

Most of his business comes from word of mouth he doesn’t have a website yet.

In the Corvette world, there’s quite a demand for Bermen’s services. Customers are glad to wait more than two years to get into the shop.

“People like what we do,” Bermen said. “We also have a large following with airline pilots.”

Apparently, these pilots like to drive fast as well as fly fast.

Bermen and his crew of six are willing to invest their time with each of the vehicles they rebuild. He says he isn’t afraid to cut an employee loose who tries to rush through a project.

“The thing about our shop is we want cars to go out of here safe and right. Our customer’s understand when it comes in here, it’s going to be here a while. We go through it from stem to stern,
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” said Doug Harrell, who is in charge of the body shop.

Harrell was once a customer who brought his 1981 Corvette in for service. He purchased the car valued at $100,000 at an estate sale.

He says he was so impressed with Bermen’s knowledge of the machine that he wanted to work with him. He also boasts a vast knowledge of the history of the Corvette.

The employees at Corvette Specialties, LLC take pride in the work that they do. Each of them are quick to show their current projects and detail the work involved.

“Doing something right isn’t always fast,” said son David Cameron Bermen, 39, who shares his father’s enthusiasm for exotic racing cars.

“His passion became my passion,” he said.

“Nobody in the area will take these cars as close as we can get to OEM (original equipment manufacturer),” the elder Bermen said.

In his shop are several million dollar vehicles such as a 1967 Corvette Stingray with only 301 miles. It’s a 427 four speed convert with factory air that’s valued at $1.3 million.

There’s also a red 1962 Formula One Corvette convertible which was re titled in 2012 because it is not on the original frame. It’s valued at approximately $375,000 and belongs to a local customer.

“We work on seven of his cars,” Harrell said.

Another point of interest is that everyone who works at the shop is a retired or disabled veteran. The owner is a Vietnam veteran and is currently battling a rare form of bone cancer.

“I’m still kickin’,” Bermen said. “I’m thankful for the medical care I get at the VA Hospital.”

Said Harrell: “We’re one of the few shops who look to hire veterans. And when a veteran brings in their car, we give them a discount. Medal of Honor winners receive free labor.”

For Corvette owners looking to add wing tail fenders or marker lights to the gills, or a total rebuild, Corvette Specialties can do the work. It just might take a while.
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