Car magazines are notorious for selling the sizzle without the steak-stories that are big on promises but short on substance. For example, can you really spec out the ideal cam for your engine just by reading a six-page article whose space is primarily occupied by really big pictures? Probably not. Can you actually build your first motor using the tips given in a story without, at some point, having to reference a more comprehensive book on the subject?
Not if you actually want to make it back home from your shakedown run around the block. The reason for this is quite simple. Each month, various cover blurbs make bold proclamations in an effort to catch readers' attention and increase newsstand sales. Balk if you want, but this is a business, not the newsletter of some non-profit organization edited by the Pope.
Even just a few years ago, the aforementioned antics would have been an apt description of this month's blurb that boldly promises to reveal how to find any part for any car. However, that just isn't the case anymore with the proliferation of the Internet, which links together hole-in-the-wall junkyards, shops, and enthusiasts with obscure common interests. Now that guy in Arkansas with a pasture full of Buick nailheads in his backyard can be exposed to the entire world instead of hiding his treasure under the camouflage of foliage for all eternity.
In addition to salvage yards and random people with random collections of parts, there are now more resources than ever. Newspaper ads and a trusty copy of Hemmings are no longer the only games in town. Web sites with classifieds sections are increasing in number by the day. Moreover, there's an Internet message board that caters to just about every make and model ever built. Most have their own classifieds sections, and its members are an excellent source of info when you're having trouble finding a part.
To clarify, there are some cars and parts we won't bother mentioning in this story for the sake of space and pertinence to our readership. The main focus will be on musclecars, with a sprinkling of domestic late-models mixed in. Quite frankly, no one cares about Daihatsus, and if you're an import lover, all you have to do is hop on eBay and type in "JDM" to make your wettest of dreams come true. Likewise, since people already know where to find performance engine, driveline, and suspension parts, we'll hit mostly on interior and exterior appearance parts, trim pieces, and cool restoration services. While there's still a chance that the sources listed below won't directly lead you to the parts you're looking for, they'll definitely point you in the right direction.
The Usual SuspectsThe old-school way of finding parts can still yield some interesting finds. Here's a short-list of some generic odds-and-ends and services we dug up within just an afternoon of flipping through a copy of Hemmings and surfing the Web for a few hours. Most aren't brand-specific-we'll get to that later-but most of what these companies offer can come in handy for almost any restoration project. These are just a taste of the parts you can find without even exerting much effort.
Gauge RehabRedline Gauge Works(661) 259-8891www.redlinegaugeworks.com
If your speedometer and tach don't work anymore, but you want to keep the factory look of your stock gauges, Redline Gauge Works can restore the appearance of your stock gauges. Additionally, Redline can retrofit modern VDO, Stewart Warner, and Auto Meter internals into old gauges for improved accuracy and reliability.
Powder CoatingAtlantic Powder Coating(866) 790-4300www.atlanticpowdercoating.com
Since spray painting is so crude, Atlantic Powder Coating can apply a durable powder coating to just about any metal surface. Items like wheels and rearend housings exposed to the elements are prime candidates, and all parts are media-blasted clean before the coating is applied.
Embee Performance Coatings(714) 546-6907www.embeeperformance.com
If you live on the left coast and still want the benefits and durability of powder paint, then Embee is just the ticket. In addition to powder paint, they also offer thermal coatings, anodizing, and other coating services.
Damper ReconditioningDamper Doctor(530) 246-2984www.damperdoctor.com
Say you have an uncommon engine, like an AMC, and can't find a replacement harmonic damper. Not a problem. Damper Doctor will rebuild dampers for any make and model car by repairing stripped bolt holes, restoring timing marks, and injecting them with high-strength silicone rubber.
Emblem RefreshPot Metal Restorations(850) 562-3847www.customcoatings.net
Finding replacements for emblems and exterior trim pieces can be tough, but fortunately, Pot Metal Restorations can bring crusty old parts back to life. Just send in your worn-out pieces of metal, and the company will strip them clean, fill in all the nicks and scratches, sand them down, then dip them in chrome.
Chrome ItPaul's Chrome Plating(800) 245-8679www.paulschrome.com
EPA crackdowns mean chrome shops are dwindling in numbers. If you can't find one in your area, just send your parts to Paul's Chrome Plating. Whether it's a bumper, an exhaust tip, or a headlight bezel that needs to be re-dipped, Paul's will be more than happy to give you a quick quote over the phone.
Touch-Up PaintTower Paint(800) 779-6520www.towerpaint.com
The older the car, the harder it is to find touch-up paint that matches its original color. Fortunately, Tower Paint has you covered. Just give them the paint code off of your car's identification plate, and the company will track down the color you need and ship it out in an aerosol can.
Seat Belt RestoSsnake-Oyl(800) 284-7777www.ssnake-oyl.com
For those who don't care for fancy Recaros and five-point harnesses, Ssnake-Oyl will restore your seatbelts to factory original specifications. The process includes re-webbing the belts, refurbishing the retractors, and restoring the belt buckle.
Old-Look BatteriesAntique Auto Battery(800) 426-7580www.antiqueautobattery.com
For the improved performance and reliability in a classic shell, Auto Antique Battery offers raised-letter, classic-look batteries filled with modern 12-volt guts. Licensed by the Big Three, its batteries feature hard rubber cases and period-correct caps.
Vinyl Seat LogosSMS Auto Fabrics(503) 263-3535www.smsautofabrics.com
Between the '50s and '70s, domestic carmakers often embossed logos and emblems right into the vinyl seat material. Re-skinning a seat typically means the logos are lost, but SMS Auto Fabrics can recreate them for you. It also carries a full line of original cloth, vinyl, and leather upholstery.
Buick/Olds TrimThe Parts Place(800) 442-0411www.thepartsplaceinc.com
The Parts Place sells many hard-to-find OE trim pieces for Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and other GM vehicles. Some examples include a horn cap for '67-79 Skylarks, a battery cable routing tube for '68-74 Cutlass, and rearend filler plug tags that read "Use Posi Diff Lubricant Only."
Pontiac TrimAmes Performance Engineering(800) 421-2637www.amesperf.com
Ames Performance specializes in Firebird, LeMans, GTO, and Grand Prix restoration parts. For items like doorsills, center console doors, dash emblems and speaker grilles, Ames can dramatically simplify the Poncho parts search.
Repop WheelsVintage Wheel Works(951) 296-0110www.vintagewheelworks.com
Wheel Vintiques(559) 251-6957www.wheelvintiques.com
For improved handling while maintaining a stock appearance, Wheel Vintiques offers classically styled billet wheels in varying diameters and widths. Both Vintage Wheel Works and Wheel Vintiques offer reproduction rally wheels for virtually all makes and models.
Convertible PartsHydro-E-Lectric(800) 343-4261www.hydroe.com
If you're a drop-top lover whose top has ceased to function, Hydro-E-Lectric can get you back in business. It makes new convertible top cylinders, pumps, and hose sets for just about every domestic ever built.
AMC UpholsteryLegendary Auto Interiors(800) 363-8804www.legendaryautointeriors.com
AMC enthusiasts have it tough, but Legendary Auto Interiors makes restoring the rarest of musclecars a cinch. It has a full line of repop seat upholstery, door panels, seat foam, vinyl tops, headliners, and molded carpet sets for the '68-74 Javelin and AMX.
Hood InsulationMetro Molded Parts(800) 878-2237www.metrommp.com
Finding a replacement hood is easy, but what about the insulation to go along with it? Metro Molded parts makes a full line of fiberglass hood insulation kits to fit most vehicles and generic cut-to-fit kits for less popular models.
Whether you have a musclecar, street rod, or late-model, chances are SoffSeal offers a complete weatherstripping kit for it that will seal off the doors, trunk, and roof rails from the elements. To keep your keep from slipping while driving down the road, the company also sells rubber pedal pad replacements.
CarpetAuto Custom Carpets(800) 350-0825www.accmats.com
ACC offers custom molded carpet sets for more than 16,000 different types of vehicles. Customers can choose from 250 different colors and eight different upholstery materials. It also has floor mats with custom embroidered logos, heat shields, and sound deadening materials.
TubingClassic Tube(800) 882-3711www.classictube.com
Inline Tube(586) 532-1338www.inlinetube.com
Since bending brake and fuel lines is one of the most despised steps in building a car, these guys take all the guesswork and hassle out of what's usually a painful chore. They offer a full line of pre-bent fuel, brake, and A/C lines for virtually every classic car on the road.
Shelby PartsBranda Performance(800) 458-3477www.cobranda.com
If you're restoring your Shelby Mustang or building a clone, Branda Performance has everything you need. It specializes in Shelby-specific parts such as quarter-panels, bumpers, side mirrors, decals, steering wheels, heater control delete plates, and much more.
GrommetsSteele Rubber(888) 840-7833www.steelerubber.com
Grommets are a must for protecting wires and hoses, but often get forgotten in the excitement of finishing up a project. Steele Rubber sells grommet kits for most popular musclecars and offers them individually as well.
Electric WipersConcours Parts(800) 722-0009www.concoursparts.com
If your window wipers have called it quits, Concours Parts can help. It makes 12-volt electric wiper conversion kits for all makes and models.
Wild decals like the infamous screaming chicken and road runner are part of what gives musclecars so much character. PhoenixGraphix has top-notch reproduction vinyl decals for virtually every classic and late-model that came stickered-up from the factory.
Glass KitsOEM Glass(800) 283-2122www.oemglass.net
Anyone who has used cheap glass knows the distortions it creates can really give you headaches. OEM Glass offers full windshield and window kits for all makes and models that are patterned off the original factory blueprints for quality and clarity.
Suspension PartsRare Parts(209) 948-6005www.rareparts.com
Need an oddball suspension part and your local parts house just looks at you with a glassy stare? Then try this place. As the name implies, they offer rare suspension parts, and if they can't find it, they can sometimes make it.
Mopar TrimTrim Parts(513) 934-0815www.trimparts.com
Trim Parts makes reproduction trim pieces for Chevys and Mopars. Its catalog covers everything in the book including door handles, turn signal levers, horn buttons, headlight bezels, and interior dome lights.
Reproduction WiringAmerican Autowire(800) 482-WIRE (9473)www.americanautowire.com
Lectric Limited(708) 563-0400www.gmwiring.com
Wiring harnesses weren't built to last for 30 years, so these two companies offer a full line of reproduction GM harnesses based on original blueprints. Helpful wiring diagrams are included with each kit.
Corvair RestoClark's Corvair Parts(888) 625-8498www.corvair.com
Although it's a car that created a lot of hoopla for all the wrong reasons, to this day the Corvair has a huge following. Clark's Corvair Parts has everything you need to restore a Corvair, including but not limited to sheetmetal, dashboards, engine rebuild kits, shocks, and turbos.
FastenersMr. G's Enterprises(817) 831-3501www.mrgusa.com
Fasteners are often different for each specific trim item that's being held in place, which means if one is lost or broken, it can be nearly impossible to replace. Mr. G's recognized this a long time ago, and now stocks over 3,500 different types of fasteners including body molding clips, nylon rivets, bumper bolts, acorns, and interior and exterior screws.
Dash RepairJust Dashes(800) 247-3274www.justdashes.com
Not only does Just Dashes restore dashboards for classic cars and late-models, it also restores door panels and chrome plastic pieces. Additionally, the company makes reproduction consoles and armrests.
Leather HidesLeather Etc.(800) 828-2061www.hirschauto.com
If your leather seats are cracked and worn but you haven't a clue what type of hide you have, just send a sample in to Leather Etc. It can match any type of leather in existence, and send your upholsterer the raw material needed to re-stitch your seats. You can even order up some fancy Connolly leather.
Steering WheelsSteering Wheel Restoration(800) 676-1928Your steering wheel shouldn't leave leather particles embedded in your palms after you drive. Whether it's leather, vinyl or wood, Steering Wheel Restoration will spruce up your wheel to like-new condition.
Shifter BootsRedline Automotive Accessories(888) 827-0026www.redlinegoods.com
Shifter boots have a hard time lasting past a few years. Redline Automotive offers shifter boots for most musclecars and late-models. They're made from extra thick Italian calfskin leather, and are double-stitched for durability.
Classic KeysKey Menwww.key-men.com
Don't settle for an ugly Home Depot blank. Key Men can copy your keys using factory-looking blanks for all make and model vehicles.