You probably won’t be able to walk into a store and buy a headliner for a 1956 Buick Special, for example, but there are online stores where you can order one. Even an antique car part like the cotton nap materials used in these in the 1940s through 1960s, in the original color material used by General Motors when the cars were newly made, is available if you look hard enough.
You need to understand that most of the antique car parts you can find today probably aren’t going to be original equipment manufacturer parts. Manufacturers only make replacement parts for a few years and then after-market parts manufacturers take over. While you are guaranteed a nearly perfect fit and function with an original equipment manufacturer part, the after-market parts are made with the same quality and care as these companies want your repeat business.
America’s love for old cars make antique car parts a viable market. Today’s baby boomers are going to antique car shows and seeing the cars in which they learned to drive. They may begin to reminisce about their youth and decide to find one and rebuild it, or buy one already street or show ready.
Some Parts May Have to Be Made
While the after market for an antique car part is booming, there may be a part or so that can’t be found. There were only so many made and they may already be in use. In a worst case scenario a metal shop can usually make a replacement for you. Having the old antique car part available for specifications will be extremely helpful, but a good machine shop can help determine if the project is even possible.
Where an antique car part may be hard to locate is when you’re working on what’s known as an orphan car – that is a car whose nameplate is no longer available. An example of an orphan car is a Cord, manufactured in Indiana from 1929 to 1931; or a Crosley made in Cincinnati, Ohio from 1939 to 1952.
While these vehicles faded into oblivion due to failure to update with the times, or some other reason, there is an annual show in Ypsilanti, Michigan which brings collectors of these ghost cars together. If you need an antique car part for one of these vehicles, this show is probably the place to find out how to get it.