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Finding The Right Parts For Your Classic

Finding the Right Parts for Your Classic

By: Ken Strong

There are many sources for classic car parts. A quick search on Google for classic Chevy parts, for example, returns several pages of results for sources to buy parts. The question to ask is: what type of parts are you looking for?

There are three basic categories of parts to choose from. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, aftermarket Reproduction parts, and used parts. It is important to define the purpose of your classic vehicle and determine which type(s) of parts are generally best suited for your classic.

Some OEM parts are still in production, depending on the year and make, but most of these classic parts exist in the form of New Old Stock (NOS) parts that have survived in warehouses somewhere just waiting for you to find them. These parts generally fit and look the best, as long as they have been well preserved.

For many classics, reproduction parts are abundant, inexpensive, and easy to find. The problem with reproductions parts is that sometimes they don’t look quite original. Fit and finish can sometimes be off, or colors and details aren’t quite right. But reproductions do work well for many vehicles and they do make our lives easier.

The last category is used parts. There is a thriving industry out there surrounding the dismantling of parts vehicles and selling the parts. These parts might show their age, but they generally fit well and are true to the original character of the vehicle.

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Where to Buy Parts

While OEM and Reproduction parts for big brands like Ford and GM are as close as a Google search, some used parts and parts for less popular brands are harder to find. There’s no need to worry, however, as there are a ton of resources available online to help locate the parts you need.

Ebay is a great place to start for used parts. There are also Facebook groups for almost any car interest you can imagine. Becoming part of a community such as a Facebook Group is the best way to stay in touch with what is available for your vehicle.

Refurbishing Existing Parts

In spite of your best efforts, quality parts are often still hard to come by. Even if they are available, Reproductions don’t always fit well and pricey OEM parts can add up quickly.  But what about trying to salvage and reuse existing parts from your vehicle? A little elbow grease can surprise you sometimes.

Here are some tips on refurbishing existing parts:

  • Fine Steel Wool and WD40 are really good for tarnished (and even rusty) old chrome. The steel wool / WD40 combo will often save you the cost of replacing or re-chroming bumpers and trim.
  • Use model airplane paint to restore color to old emblems. Apply with a very fine brush. Add the paint drop by drop, letting it flow through the painted area so as to avoid brush marks on the emblem.
  • Interior carpet/trim dye can sometimes aid in salvaging an interior that is overall in good condition, but may have a faded area on the carpet, or trim. Use discretion, as this strategy could go from tasteful to tacky very quickly.

In the end, finding the right part requires you to work with your car’s main purpose in mind. While a show quality build might require the best parts available, a weekend driver could probably afford to show a few blemishes. Have a plan and a budget and do the best you can with what you have. Classics are generally more enjoyable if they haven’t completely broken the bank.

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