A New Mecca for Motorheads
By Matthew Maier

(Business 2.0) – Forget about hopped-up Mustangs and high-octane Hemis; today's hot-rodders prefer Honda Civics and nitrous-oxide upgrade kits. Known as "tuners"--a reference to their exquisitely tuned, highly customized compact cars--these next-generation gearheads spent $2.4 billion in 2002 on accessories like neon underbody lights and Tokico gas shocks. Autobacs USA, the American branch of Japan's most successful auto parts chain, based in Orange County, Calif., caters to tuners' speed-obsessed lifestyle with a 35,000-square-foot pilot store, Super Autobacs, that's on track to hit sales of $8 million this year, or nearly $230 per square foot. (By comparison, a typical Checker/Schuck's/Kragen store operated by CSK Auto generates sales of $195 per square foot.) Super Autobacs hopes to replicate its formula elsewhere by opening several more stores in the United States during the next few years. -- MATTHEW MAIER