Where Did You Get That Part?
Walk around a Display Day checking out the old and often rare vehicles and some self-appointed ‘expert’ will doubtless be heard to comment; “Imagine trying to find parts for that.”
In days gone, parts shortages for older models could be an issue. Some remain tough to buy for however more common models stand a better chance now of acquiring new or remanufactured parts than was the case 20 years ago. The strength of the ‘classic’ market has enticed literally thousands of suppliers and retailers to become involved in making and supplying components to suit a variety of vehicles built 30 or more years ago.
US brands are among the best supplied and there is little excuse for owners of post-WW2 models to complain about shortages of mechanical parts. New panels are less common, however with the advances being made in scanning, metal shaping and 3-D printing there isn’t much for an older vehicle that absolutely cannot be re-created.
Popular collector models like the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Corvette are as expected among the best supplied on the market. But what about a 1959 Cadillac? These boasted the tallest fins in automotive history and possibly more chrome plating than any motor vehicle ever made.
Just a 15-minute Internet search revealed suppliers throughout the USA and internationally that could supply virtually any mechanical or suspension part to suit old Caddys. There were also places to buy new coverings for the convertible top and even sources of decent, original chrome. Among the items on sale was a front bumper and almost-complete grille up for grabs on an international auction site.
The internet has of course had a massive influence on the international spare parts market. In years past an owner in Australia needed to phone (at huge cost) or write to an overseas supplier. If parts weren’t commercially available, dozens of letters would be sent individually to offshore car clubs. Today a single email can reach dozens of clubs in seconds or buyers can use their favourite search engine to scan hundreds of commercial and club websites.
One of the first ‘official’ sources of replacement parts was the UK-based BL (for British Leyland) Heritage. In addition to maintaining a prolific display of historic vehicles, BL Heritage in 1975 began remanufacturing parts and even complete body shells for obsolete models. In 2001 the business was privately acquired and continues to supply parts for many BMC, Triumph and Leyland models and complete shells for some varieties of MG and Mini.
Porsche has also committed heavily to supporting existing owners and claims that around 65% of all Porsches ever built are still running. Some models are better served than other less popular variants, however it is said to be possible to build a complete 911 from new spare parts.
Australia is a tiny market with unique parts requirements. However, suppliers in this country seem as dedicated as any in the world to ensuring our special-interest models are preserved for future generations.
Older Holdens, Falcons, Chryslers and other brands are supported with rust repair sections and some complete body panels. Interior parts including complete seat and door retrim kits are being made and there is a huge range of new mechanical parts.
Enthusiast Insurance www.enthusiast.com.au appreciates the support which the after-market industry provides. Most of the vehicles we insure are not just a means of transport, they have important roles in their owners’ lives.
It is our wish that significant and much-loved vehicles are repaired and returned to their owners wherever it is safe and viable to do so. All repairs undertaken by properly qualified people carry Enthusiast’s Lifetime Guarantee.