Respect the Classics: 7 Tips for Sourcing Parts for Classic Car Restoration

classic car restoration

Short on time?

You might want to think twice about restoring a classic car. The process from start to finish can take an average of 1000 hours of work to complete.

Where does all that time go?

Well, among other essential jobs, finding the right replacement parts can turn into one of the largest drains on your time when restoring a classic car. Rarer models can pose a particular problem.

These are classic cars for a reason right? They’re old! The parts simply don’t exist as often these days. They may have long gone out of production, and the ones in existence may be totally unfit for purpose. The chances of finding them can be slim.

However, it helps when you know where to look. What are some of the best places to source the parts for your classic car restoration project?

Keep reading to find out.

7 Sourcing Options for Classic Car Restoration Parts

One of the hardest aspects of restoring a classic car can be finding the right replacement parts for it. Knowing where to look is an obvious help. Here are seven of the best places to source classic car parts.

1. Online Searches

The internet is now a source of data on most things. In fact, there are more than 3.5 billion searches on Google every day! You can leverage this resource to find pieces for your classic car.

For the right price, you can almost always find what you need. Fully restored and perfect condition parts are available if you can afford them. They don’t come cheap. However, you can come across cheaper parts too.

It can often take some digging on the web, but the parts are there to be found. There are auctions, and online dealers galore.

Like all online shopping though, there’s risk involved. It can be hard to guarantee the quality of the goods. Be sure to use reputable sites that offer a solid returns policy.

2. Vehicle Salvage Centres

Vehicle salvage centers will be your friend in this mission to restore a classic car.

Of course, the rarer the classic car, the harder it’ll be to find the part you need. You have to keep in mind that most salvage centers are dealing with your average cars, not your 100-year-old classics!

However, don’t rule them out. This is a relatively cheap and cheerful way of finding parts, locally, for your classic car restoration project. The guys working in these yards will usually be aware of the harder to find pieces too. They’ll set them aside and wait for calls from people like you!

Generic junkyards can also present opportunities for the eagle-eyed classic car enthusiast. You can find some absolute gems in these places. But it often requires digging around in heaps of junk and having luck on your side.

3. Trade Shows

Tradeshows are havens for classic car collectors and restorers.

All the enthusiasts from miles around congregate in one place. Cars and parts are everywhere. If ever you’re going to find the part you need in person, and be able to walk away with it the same day, trade shows are the place to be.

These shows are for car enthusiasts what sweet shops are for children. Knowledgeable people who love classic vehicles all commune, celebrate, buy and sell their cars and parts.

They’re also ideal for finding the rarer parts around.

4. Swap Meets

Swap meets are a great way to find and trade classic car parts.

People hoping to find the piece(s) they require congregate in a set location to see if anyone’s willing to trade for it. There is no guarantee that your specific part will be on offer. However, with a stroke of luck, it just might be.

Likewise, these meets are known to bring out the rarer items. You never know, what you need may be on offer. It’s also a cool way to meet other classic car lovers and find parts for future projects.

Online forums will be a useful tool for discovering exactly when and where the meets will take place. More on forums next.

5. Forums and Magazines

The internet has a forum for everything these days.

The same goes for finding classic car parts. Rather, there are numerous online forums devoted to classic car enthusiasts. As part of that niche, you’ll come across masses of people advertising the parts they have for sale.

These forums are awesome places to find the part you need. They’re also a great resource for learning more about classic car restoration. You’ll find yourself interacting with other classic car lovers, too.

It’s a win-win! Similarly, classic car magazines also have occasional offers of parts available for sale. Be sure to subscribe to one.

6. Classic Car Clubs

Joining a classic car club is always a good way of getting inside information on available parts.

You meet up with fellow car lovers, swap stories, discuss details, go on drives, and generally make connections with the right people. You’ll form friendships that will help you find the parts for your project.

Again, this is a no-lose situation. You meet like-minded people, with similar interests, and have a chance of finding the parts you require.

7. 3D Printers

Can’t find the right part anywhere else on this list?

No worries. Science and technology are here to help. These days you can simply print yourself the part you need using a 3D printer. That’s right, we now have the ability to create replacement parts on request, to the correct specifications.

This could have significant ramifications in this industry. Those rarest of parts once lost to time, can now be brought back to life thanks to fancy, futuristic computers.

Time will tell just how important this development will be. It’s an outlet worth looking into for anyone who simply can’t find their part elsewhere.

Time to Get Restoring

There you have it: Seven of the best places to source car parts for your classic car restoration.

Restoring a classic car is no mean feat. It takes a serious commitment of time and money to complete a project. That’s in large part to do with the difficulty finding the right bits. Thankfully though, you can speed up the process by looking for replacement parts in the right places.

Online searches, salvage centers, trade shows, swap meets, forums and magazines, and classic car clubs are all places worth looking. And if you can’t find them there, you can try to make one yourself through 3D printing!

Hopefully, this piece has set you on your way to finding the classic car parts you need.

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