By ‘classic’ we typically refer to a car from a different era and one that’s at least 20 years old. Often, we use the word interchangeably to mean ‘antique’ and ‘vintage’ vehicles, although enthusiasts would argue that they are worlds and eons apart and rightly so.
Some countries, insurers, and car societies even go a few steps farther by classifying classic cars according to a specific period, the timelessness of design, nostalgic value, and other stringent standards.
In this post, we defer to our previous description of what a classic car is in Australia and only consider vehicles that are at least 25 years old. More specifically, this article will look into the availability of parts for classic cars and how to source them.
Classic Cars You Will Find on Australia’s Roads
Most of the retro or classic vehicles are collectors' items, valued as displays by many enthusiasts. Luckily, not all classics live sedentary lives, as glimpses of these daily drivers on Aussie highways tell us.
- Toyota MR2 – also once called the 'poor man's Ferrari,' the MR2 is a classic 2-seater that you can rely on to get you to work on weekdays and bring you the fun on weekends. The first two generations, plus the early model years of the third, are now prized classics.
- Mazda MX-5 Miata – the first two generations of the Miata are classics in their own right and were fierce competitors of the MR2 at the time. Wouldn’t you love to turn up on a date in Mazda’s most iconic car?
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class – who wouldn’t wax nostalgic at the sight of a Merc E-Class? Not only is it a beaut, but it also has bulletproof dependability. Those who own the diesel version know that it drives like a tank.
- Toyota Land Cruiser – if we talk about reliability, of course, you can’t leave the Land Cruiser out. It’s a workhorse, period. Its early model years (J100 and older) are no doubt some of the toughest classics ever built.
- Lexus LS 400 – drive in style with the car that singlehandedly launched Lexus. It was built in 1989 as the flagship car of the Japanese luxury brand, designed to embody opulence and reliability.
Driving any of these iconic cars is going to be fun, no doubt. (Who are you kidding? It’s going to be sensational!) But is it feasible? How long will you be able to ensure their roadworthiness? There will be no shortage of skilled mechanics for sure, but will parts be available? We'll tackle that question shortly.
Classic Car Part Terms - NOS, OEM, Replica, and Remanufactured Replacement Parts
As you go about locating parts, you will hear these terms thrown around pretty often when referring to classic car components. So, let’s brush up on your vocabulary, and improve your chances of finding the best parts for your car.
- NOS – this acronym stands for New Old Stock replacement part. Yes, we know – the term contradicts itself, but it’s your best bet when it comes to restoring or maintaining an old model. It’s like going back in time to order a part for your 1980s car, except that you’re buying it now (after it has sat on the shelf for decades, never bought, never used before). The pros of NOS are that they offer the best fit and function because they were built at the same time that your car was produced, using the same tools that forged the originals. The cons are that they can be rare, thus expensive. Also, not all materials can endure the ravages of time; rubber and plastics, for instance, turn brittle even when not used.
- OEM – we know this acronym from several articles in this site. It refers to replacement parts produced by the Original Equipment Manufacturer. If you can’t find NOS classic car parts, OEMs are your second-best option. They are produced by manufacturers licensed by the brand that built your car. Be a smart buyer and learn how to spot fake OEM car parts and avoid them.
- Replica parts – aka reproduction replacement parts, replicas are manufactured by a third-party and designed to work like the factory parts. They often get a bad rep due to their inferiority to NOS or OEM classic parts.
- Remanufactured parts - while botched fitment and quality are issues associated with cheap replicas, the same cannot be said about remanufactured parts. These are used car parts that came from the same classic car (or other cars that shared the part) but had been refurbished and rebuilt to function like the original. They’re typically more affordable than either NOS or OEM and more reliable than replicas.
Where to Find Classic Car Parts – Are They Still Available?
It’s quite clear from the section above that classic car parts are indeed still available and can be had as NOS, OEM, replica, or remanufactured car parts. And we’d like to add – used auto parts from retired cars.
If there was a question you should be more concerned about, it would be where to find classic car parts. It’s not going to be easy; in fact, hunting for these elusive parts will most definitely cause you headaches and heartbreaks. But there are ways and places to find them, and that’s what this article is all about. So let’s start shortlisting your hunting grounds!
- eBay – we’ve included eBay on our list not because we recommend it but because it is one of the first places sellers would likely use. It is well known for dirt-cheap deals but notorious for scams. If you're familiar with how this marketplace works, you can take your chances. Just make sure to vet the sellers and the auto parts you’re buying before parting with your money.
- NOS specialist stores – search for sellers that specialise in NOS, such as the AboutTimeSpares online business based off NSW. It has an extensive inventory of auto parts for a wide range of classic car marques from Austin to Volkswagen and a lot more in between.
- Car club events and swap meets – these are some of the best sources of classic car parts. Plus, it’s a haven for like-minded enthusiasts. You won’t always find the exact part you need in these events, but you’ll find clues to a possible source. It’s a treasure hunt, didn’t we tell you?
- Wreckers – wrecking businesses are now online, too, so it’s so much easier to pick your car parts. Any of the ‘Wreckamended Wreckers' featured on our homepage would be an excellent place to start.
- Carpart.com.au – there are two ways to search auto parts on our website. You may search the listings or request the auto part via our Car Part Finder. What you do is provide details about the classic car part you need by filling out an online form, which you then send (just press ‘send’) to us. Our system automatically forwards this to over 500 sellers and wreckers in our network, practically multiplying a single form into hundreds of car part queries. You will then receive quotes from sellers who have the auto part you need. It’s an efficient system that’s free for you to use, so why don’t you avail of this service now and start getting results? You see, hunting doesn’t have to be so complicated, even for classic car parts.
With Carpart.com.au, searching for parts and car professionals has become so much easier because it's a place where buyers, sellers, service providers, and car owners come together. Be a part of the Carpart community to start using its many features! Sign up now; it's free!
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)