When you own a vintage or rare car, finding parts is like doing a scavenger hunt all over the world. It can be challenging to locate the precise parts you need and arrange for them to travel all the way home to your garage.
Anyone who’s restored a classic car knows the feeling of hunting for just the right part with no luck. Even worse, sometimes you finally find the perfect part only to discover the seller’s description was wrong or they outright scammed you.
That’s why we’d like to share our tips for locating classic car parts. At Classic Automobile Insurance Agency, we not only insure antique and vintage classics, but we also own and care for them ourselves. We understand the thrill of finding just the right parts!
Online Parts Dealers
Let’s start with the obvious: the internet. Isn’t it wild to think that this path wasn’t even available to us 30 years ago? The internet is a treasure trove of old car parts.
Start with a basic Google search, but don’t get your hopes up too high if you’re looking for an unusual or rare part. There are thousands of online dealers and the quality of the parts varies. Online vendors also have wide variations in the accuracy of their listings.
Before ordering from an online parts company, confirm the exact model, year, and name of the part you’re seeking. If something you’re seeking is extremely rare or expensive, reach out to the seller individually and double-check the details.
Reputable dealers should reply to your inquiries promptly and should be able to answer specific questions about the parts they’re offering. If something doesn’t seem right with the transaction, go elsewhere.
Online Auction Sites
If you’re tired of scrolling through a million random websites’ parts for sale, you can try an online auction instead. Car parts auctions are fast-paced, competitive, and full of interesting widgets from all over the world.
Overall, you’ll find low prices in online auctions, with occasional price spikes for hard-to-find parts. Of course, there’s always the risk of getting caught up in a heated back-and-forth bidding war and paying too much.
Keep your eye on hidden fees, too. Some auctions and sellers tack on packaging and shipping costs that make it a whole lot more expensive than you expected.
Car Enthusiast Forums
Before we leave the online world, we’d like to mention the benefits of finding car parts through forums and clubs for classic car fans. These groups, which are sometimes membership-only, bring the benefit of being able to talk to lots of different people with similar interests.
Join a group of like-minded car enthusiasts and ask around for their recommendations on the best sources for parts. Sometimes you’ll find someone in your area who knows a hole-in-the-wall source you’d never know about otherwise.
Many auto clubs have thriving online discussion forums that allow people to bounce ideas off each other and ask for help when needed. Check out the classifieds for the Classic Car Club of America or the Antique Automobile Club of America. Active forums include Automotiveforums.com, Hotrodders.com, and ls1tech.com.
Just like car clubs, car shows are full of people who love cars as much as you do. Some shows are rather exclusive membership-only events, but many are open to the public and welcome as much participation as possible.
Attend local and regional car shows and put yourself out there as someone looking for a specific type of car parts. Often, there are people at car shows looking to sell, barter, and trade all kinds of classic car parts.
As a bonus, join the mailing lists for these car shows. There are plenty of people who can’t attend a specific show in person but are part of the car show community and share information through the club’s emails and newsletters.
Junkyards and Salvage Yards
Tired of Googling? Not into joining clubs? Here’s the old-fashioned way to find classic car parts. Take a road trip to the junkyards and salvage yards in your region and talk to the owners about the parts you’re seeking.
It’s a great way to see and feel the parts before buying. Junkyards usually include intact or partially intact cars with parts that need to be removed before buying. You can pick up parts cheap this way, but it’s easy to get lost in a field of cars and spend a lot of time searching for what you really need.
Some salvage yards are a little different and are arranged more like warehouses full of spare parts in rows or buckets. It can be a bit easier to find what you need at a place like this – especially if the owner keeps a computerized inventory – but the parts might be picked over.
The downside of hunting through junkyards and salvage yards is that you’ll probably have to get dirty. Plus, there’s usually little to no help available for the average customer. If you’re not a parts nut, bring along a buddy mechanic who knows exactly what you need and can spot it from a mile away.
Magazines and Trader Publications
Car magazines auto-trader publications are great resources for finding classic car parts. Whenever you see one of those little throwaway printed pamphlets with photos of local cars for sale, grab it!
These publications are sometimes free or there could be a small fee involved, but it’s well worth the cost. If you can have it delivered to your home, all the better. You’ll bring the auto community right into your living room.
Flip through the pages and look for local and regional businesses that deal in classic cars, even if they don’t directly sell parts. Contact them and ask where they find their parts because every expereinced auto business has a source.
Your Local Car Dealership
That’s right! Car dealerships are full of people who absolutely live and breathe cars. Go browse around for new or used cars and forge a connection with a car nut who’s into the classics.
Dealerships often have connections to sources for car parts associated with legacy brands like Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedez-Benz, Chevy, Ford, and many others. They also tend to employ expert auto repair mechanics with plenty of parts insights and contacts.
You might not think of your local swap meet as an ideal source for classic car parts but think again. Swap meets often have mechanically-minded sellers who are familiar with classic car parts, plus a whole mess of other things like farm implements and vintage toys.
Swap meet vendors can be hit-or-miss for finding specific parts you need. But many of them make their money through oddball partnerships and hunting around for deals. Give one of them a list of the parts you’re seeking and they might track it down – for a fee.
Be aware that swap and street vendors occasionally deal in untraceable items, which means there’s a slight risk of buying stolen goods. Save your receipts and other documentation so you can work with the police if necessary and prove you bought the items in good faith.
Auto Parts Stores
We didn’t forget about good old brick-and-mortar auto parts stores. They can be very helpful for sourcing frequently-replaced parts and the basics like wiper blades, chemicals, and tools.
Around the nation, there are even vintage and antique auto parts stores that deal exclusively in parts that are old, rare, and recast from original molds. It’s worth taking a road trip to one of these stores for fun if nothing else.
Of course, it’s a good idea to call before making a long trip to reach a certain store. Auto parts stores get calls all day long from curious parts-seekers and use detailed electronic inventories to search and locate the parts they sell.
We hope you’ll be able to find all the parts you need using the sources above. There’s nothing like trying to track down a part for your classic car, finally finding it, and putting it perfectly into place. Good luck and happy hunting!
Legacy of Classic Auto Insurance
Classic Automobile Insurance Agency is a family business built on a love of classic cars. We take every opportunity to bring you unique learning opportunities like our hugely successful Project C10, powered by American Modern. Having owned a variety of collectible vehicles ourselves, we understand the special protections your iconic ride requires.
Whether you bought it at an auction, drove it off the lot, or restored it to perfection in your garage, we can insure it. We’ll build you a customized agreed-value auto insurance program that is designed specifically for owners of collectible cars while providing the top-notch customer support you expect.
Visit our website at www.classicins.com to get an instant quote online or call 888-901-1338 and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.