Alternative Auto Performance is a automotive performance shop founded by Lidio Iacobelli. Located in Chesterfield, MI, they are less than a half hour from Downtown Detroit. They have won numerous awards including WDIV’s “Vote 4 The Best” three years in a row!
We hope you enjoy our in-depth interview with Alternative Auto.
I started Alternative Auto Performance in 1990
What made you decide to open an automotive performance shop?
At that time in the late ’80s, I found that as cars became more complex, and more computerized for engine management, only dealers were qualified to service them. I simply wanted to fill a void in the private auto service sector. So that EFI equipped Ford vehicles didn’t only have the dealer as choice for repairs and service of that nature. Plus, I was starting to do a lot of Performance work on Mustangs and other Fords at that time as well.
Quite simply the name “Alternative Auto” was derived from trying to be an alternative to other shops as a qualified Ford EFI service center.
What are your ultimate goals when working on a customer’s car?
Like any other service provider, we aim for true customer satisfaction, and to make sure goals are met for a customer’s given Budget.
What kinds of services do you provide to your customers?
Alternative Auto’s services basically consist of making late model Ford and GMs perform better with uncompromised drivability from their car’s.
What has been the most popular modification your shop has performed over the years?
Our most common Ford and GM entry level upgrades are usually a performance computer tune and airbox. This is a typical package that aims to enhance some basic performance by taking advantage of premium fuels and improved airflow from affordable and revised airbox and intake filters. With costs that are kept under 800.00 usually.
When your shop first opened you dealt mainly with Ford products. Was there a particular reason for this?
Quite simply, I always loved Ford and primarily Mustangs. Just a teenage passion for the all popular American muscle cars, but the Mustang got me when I was about 13 years old when I used to glare over all the mid to late 1960’s Pony cars.
In recently years, you have also begun working with GM products as well. What kind of response did you initially have from that crowd? Has it changed since?
The GM crowd has responded with what I believe is reluctance to my shops entry and involvement with the late model GM cars. I think that “understandably” the GM crowd sees that my shop’s core has always been Fords, and this I believe has somewhat intimidated those guys. But over time in the last seven years or so… I believe the GM crowd has recognized that my shop is professional, honest, trustable, and qualified to work with the late model GM’s as well as the Fords.
Are you looking into possibly expanding into working on Chrysler/Mopar products in the future?
Right now I feel that I’ve diversified enough with the Fords and GM’s, and with the difficulty in tuning and programming the Mopar ECU’s, I do not see us getting into those any time soon.
When the automotive industry took a down turn in 2008, how did that affect your business, if at all?
I think a lot of businesses that had nothing to do with the automotive industry got beat up back in 2008, and my shop did experience a slow down for sure that year, but we had just started adding the GM work at that time also, which expanded our market a little. So by 2009 we were as busy as ever and the shop started to fill with both Fords and GM’s.
Why did you choose to locate your business in Chesterfield?
Chesterfield was just the right place at the right time back in 2007 when we moved and expanded from our original shop in Mt Clemens. Larger facility at a fair price.
Has there been one particular car that you have enjoyed working on more than any other?
If had to say which car I enjoyed the most to work with, it would have to be my own personal 1988 Mustang LX we’ve owned since new. Lots of history with that one!
We do a Dyno day once a year in the Spring.
What are your thoughts on Detroit’s revival?
Detroit is a neighboring city and is Lower Michigan’s kind of nucleus. So when Detroit does better, Michigan does better
Do you feel that your shop help brings light to the Detroit area and can help with its revival?
Hard to say, we’re a small mom & pop business basically. Very proud of what we have and achieved in 24 years. But I honestly can’t say that my small and humble operation contributed to Detroit’s revival.
Alternative Auto Performance is located at
51945 Gratiot Ave
Chesterfield, MI 48051
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We at Emotion Detroit would like to thank Lidio at Alternative Auto for allowing us to do a Spotlight on their business. It is greatly appreciated and was an honor to do so.