If you’re building a Restomod, you’re going to need parts. Some parts might be used, but some will need to be new. There are many different sources for parts these days. More manufacturers are making parts than ever before. You can save some money by buying from mailorder warehouses, but you can buy from your local speed shop to support your local economy and get expert advice. Automotive swap meets are a great place to get a good deal on hard-to-find parts. With the Internet growing, options for purchasing what you want or need has increased. Most of the parts you need are available from one or more sources.
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Everyone is familiar with mailorder warehouses. They send you catalogs with ridiculously low prices on all the parts you need for your car. They can offer these low prices because they buy their parts in bulk. They may buy 250 (or more) small-block Ford Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifolds at one time. The manufacturers cut them deals because of the volume of parts they purchase. Mail-order companies make their money from volume sales and shipping and handling charges. Even when they say shipping is free, they usually hit you with handling charges.
There’s a drawback to ordering your parts through mail-order warehouses: They don’t offer the customer service that you can get at a local speed shop. Maybe you want a new carburetor, but don’t realize you need other parts like return springs, gaskets, carburetor studs, air cleaner studs, hose, fittings, etc. Maybe you don’t know the exact size of carburetor you need for your engine. You may need a little tuning help once you receive the carburetor. It might show up damaged from shipping, and you need to return it. If you order from a mail-order warehouse, these issues are not as easy to deal with as they would be if you paid a little more for the carburetor from your local speed shop.
Your local speed shop is a great place to buy new parts. If they don’t have what you want in stock, they can usually order it for you. The parts may be more expensive than mail-order warehouses, but they offer services mailorder companies cannot. Maybe you aren’t sure which part is best for your application. Maybe you want to actually compare the part to a similar one from a different manufacturer. If you buy a part that turns out to be defective, you can drive back to the speed shop and swap it for a good part. What if you have a question about installing your part? There are always a few employees with the knowledge to assist you. Mail-order warehouses can offer lower prices, but they cannot compete when it comes to customer service. If you spend your money at your local speed shop, you’ll be putting money back into your local economy. Some people actually spend hours at the speed shop asking for help, and then they go home and order the parts from a mail-order warehouse. Sure, they save a few bucks, but they didn’t support the shop with the service. Speed shops cannot survive without support from customers. If you have a good local speed shop, support them by buying your parts there. That way they’ll still be in business the next time you need a little help with your project.
There aren’t too many places you can get great prices on new and used parts, but a swap meet is one of them. Maybe you’re looking for a good deal on a fiberglass hood or some vintage valve covers. Most guys get up extremely early to set out their parts, hoping to get rid of everything. Not all of the parts will sell, but they may be willing to come down on the price so they do not have to pack it all back up.
Maybe your project calls for some stock parts. Maybe you need an interior panel that isn’t available from original equipment manufacturers or re-manufacturers. In this case, you may have to check some wrecking yards. The wrecking yard can be a goldmine where you may find everything you need. If nothing at all, it is a good source for simple, small parts like bolts and washers. You may need a complete roof section or a complete firewall and cowl section. These parts are not available from reproduction companies. As time goes on, it is getting harder to find some parts, but if you search yards off the beaten path, you may find what you’re looking for.
Some wrecking yards have wrecked cars of all makes and models. Others are specific to antique cars, trucks, or a particular manufacturer. These specialty wrecking or salvage yards help increase your chances of finding the specific part that you’re searching for. Some salvage yards have complete engines out of new Mustangs and Cobras with transmissions and wiring harnesses. Some of these might even have high-performance parts already installed. For instance, a 5.0 might have headers, cam, performance injectors, and ported heads. People have been known to find full-tilt racing transmissions, engines, and rear axles in wrecking yards. Maybe you’ll find a set of re-upholstered sport seats or a new aftermarket shifter. You never know what treasures lurk at your local wrecking yard.
Wrecking yards offer more than just the ability to purchase used parts. They’re a great place for getting reference information. Maybe you need to know how a part was installed, which might be necessary because you are doing a custom installation on your project and need to see how a part is factoryinstalled on a car. You can see how a cup holder or a door panel is installed on a car or truck. A lot can be learned by removing interior panels on a newer car. You will get to see how the factory installs its parts. There are many new engineering ideas waiting on newer-model cars for you to soak up. Attention to these details will give you valuable information that you can use when building your car.
Maybe you need to measure the frame width or the width of a 9-inch rear end for a ’76 Lincoln Mark IV. You may be installing suspension for a different vehicle, and you can get measurements from donor cars. Keep your eyes and your mind open to new ideas the next time you stop by a wrecking yard. Bring a pen and some paper to jot down information. You can try bringing a camera, but some wrecking yards don’t allow them for insurance reasons. Check with the management.
Before the 1990s, there were fewer places to buy parts for your car. With the Internet growing as it has, your options for purchasing what you want or need have increased. Now, from the comfort of your home, you can access parts manufacturers, warehouses, wrecking yards, distributors, builders, and other automotive-related businesses.
Internet auctions are also a growing source for finding the parts you need or want. With the Internet auctions like EBay, you can buy parts from someone on the opposite coast. It is like having a wrecking yard or speed shop the size of the planet, but accessible from your home. The seller posts his new or used part on the website. You can log in and bid on it. If you are the highest bidder, you win the auction. People sell small parts you would not think twice about throwing into your garbage can. They also sell complete magazine-feature quality Restomods.
Other less formal Internet sites have message boards with good car parts for sale. These message boards are not monitored or controlled by a secondary source to promote honesty. Most of the online buyers and sellers are honest, but you take your chances with any online purchasing, even with monitored sites. High-profile auction websites are not guaranteed either; if a deal seems too good to be true, it might be. There are some real low-down scum who think it’s fun to post pictures of a car that does not belong to them, like a ’66 Shelby GT- 350-S, and then take money for the car without delivering it. Bid with caution
You may need to start your Restomod project by purchasing a car. There are many items to take into consideration before purchasing a car.
Check around; you’ll find good bargains. I saw an article once that stated over 70 percent of “frame-off” projects are sold before they are finished, or sold multiple times before they’re finished. After participating in the automotive hobby for almost 20 years, I believe that figure. There are many reasons big car projects are sold before they are finished. The reasons range from loss of interest, lack of funds, life changes, and changes in overall planning. Most of the reasons can be traced to one problem: the lack of an original plan, or the ability to stick to it. Either way, you can benefit from purchasing a project car that has tons of money and hours poured into it. These cars are usually sold for less than half the money and time invested. This is a good way to save some of your money.
Purchasing an unfinished project car can also be a bad thing. It’s possible the builder found a flaw in his plan or found some serious hidden rust or damage. An unfinished project might be slapped together with shoddy bodywork or inferior parts. If the car has a roll cage or heavily fabricated framework, inquire about the type and thickness of the tubing. Bring a tape measure and check some of the measurements for symmetry and straightness. If you don’t have experience surveying a car for possible problems, have an experienced person inspect the car before purchasing it. If you have a good idea of what you are looking for before you start looking, you might not make a bad choice. For instance, if you are making a Restomod, you may want to stay away from some unfinished Pro-Street projects. Some Pro-Streeters are easily converted, but don’t forget, they are set up for straightline racing. It could cost more money than it’s worth to get the car modified for street Restomod duties.
TATE WALTHALL’S 1965 MUSTANG
This blue 1965 Mustang fastback is getting a second lease on life. When Tate Walthall found the car, it was built for straight-line driving. He wanted a Mustang that would take any line and do it well. He purchased the car and took it directly to Campbell Auto Restoration (CAR) in Campbell, California. He knew the team there was capable of working miracles on specialized cars and had the attention to detail he required.
The 351W was already modified with the necessary parts to suit Tate’s needs. It was topped with Dart Pro 1 heads, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, and a Holley 650-cfm double-pumper carburetor. The car came equipped with a set of custom headers that were in great shape, so they were spared, but CAR had to modify them to clear the clutch linkage. CAR built a complete exhaust system with a Bassani X-pipe, a pair of DynaFlow bullet mufflers, and a pair of Bassani front-exit mufflers. Some custom oval tubing was used to fabricate some side exit exhaust tips. Overall, the sound of the exhaust is very unique. It actually sounds like an expensive, highpowered European car.
To get the car rolling, the old manual-valve-body-equipped C4 transmission was ditched in favor of a Dodge Viper 6- speed. The 9-inch rear end was already built to handle the power, so that was left alone. Slide-A-Link track bars were installed for traction control. The front suspension was upgraded with Total Control Products’ coil-over front suspension and power rack-and-pinion steering. A hollow track-style front sway bar was adapted to help control body roll. Braking was enhanced with 13-inch Baer brakes on 1970-1973 Mustang spindles and 12-inch Baer brakes in the rear.
Pre-1967 Mustangs don’t have much comfortable room for tires wider than 235s in the front and 245s in the rear, but Tate wanted a wider footprint on the road. With the help of CAR, he chose 17×8-inch front and 17×9.5-inch Team III wheels, wrapped with Dunlop SP 8000 245/45ZR17s and 285/40ZR17s. Since the tire and wheel choices were made, and the stock body lines wouldn’t accommodate them, some body massaging was in store. The front fenders were meticulously worked with a hammer and dolly for extra tire clearance. The rear quarters were a lot of extra work. They were removed and fabricated from multiple donor quarter panels that were worked with hammers, dollies, and an English wheel. The job netted big gains in tire clearance, but the changes are subtle enough to make seasoned Mustang enthusiasts take a second look to see how the car is able to handle the oversized rubber.
Tate’s car had started with a good, solid body when he took possession. It was covered in “Arrest-me Red,” but it wasn’t Tate’s favorite color. With the fenders and quarters already missing their paint and the car disassembled, it only made sense to repaint the entire car to a color Tate really wanted. An R-type front racing apron, Shelby hood, and functional side scoops were added, and then the car was ready for paint. Tate picked a custom blue and white from Gasurit. The blue was followed by correctly spaced, variable-width Shelby stripes.
The floorpan had been patched by a previous owner. Unlike most horror stories of shoddy patchwork, somebody had really done a nice job on this Mustang. The strength of the floorpan and body was seriously upgraded with the addition of some integral subframe connectors. CAR didn’t cut any corners with this chassis, either. The back of the front frame rail was removed and .120-inchwall 2×3-inch rectangular tubing was put inside the stock sheetmetal frame rails. The gussets were fabricated to tie the rear unibody frame rails into the subframe connectors. Now the car is solid, and since the subframe connectors tuck up against the floorpan, the ground clearance was not diminished. Further strength was added to the engine compartment with the addition of a TCP Tower Brace Kit.
The interior was completely restored to like-new condition with a few upgrades. Recaro seats were added to give Tate more lateral support when taking the corners. A 4-point custom roll bar and fire extinguisher were added for safety. A full complement of AutoMeter gauges were added so Tate could keep an eye on everything from the driver’s seat. The electrical system was upgraded with a GM 1- wire alternator so the external regulator could be removed from the engine compartment and the typical visible wiring under the hood could be straightened up.
With the help of a great foundation and the hard work of the team at Campbell Auto Restoration, Tate’s 1965 Mustang really performs. Now the Mustang can take any line with complete confidence, whether it has an apex or not. Some of the modifications are subtle, but overall, this car really stands out in a crowd.
Paperwork is one hidden gremlin to watch out for. If you are building a Restomod, you will be driving it on the street, so make sure the title is clear. If the title is not clear, you could spend an eternity at your local department of motor vehicles with little headway. Spending long hours and a lot of money on a car that can’t be registered for driving on the street would be heartbreaking. Do a little research on the status of a car’s title before you fork over your cash.
When I purchased my muscle car from a tow yard, I had big plans. It was a rolling shell. I started pursuing registration right away. When I went down to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), I learned the car had been purchased by seven different parties within a 6-year period. I spent months tracking the previous owners and had many unhappy visits to the DMV. Every time I went to the DMV, I got a different story about what I needed to do. Every teller had their own interpretation of the registration process. After a few visits, I made sure to request the same teller (the one that gave me the path of least resistance). I had to attempt to contact all the previous owners to make sure they wouldn’t contest my purchase of the car. I had to send registered letters to each party asking permission to register the car in my name. One of the seven parties was living at the address on the paperwork. The fastest way to get the paperwork straightened out was to come to an agreement that he would refuse my registered letter as if he did not live there. Once I had all the returned registered letters, I went back to DMV. Now I was able to transfer the ownership to my name. Since my car wasn’t running, I had to register it as Non-Operational. The process was time-consuming and frustrating. If you’re not an easy-going person, don’t try this at home. Once the car was registered in my name, I started laboring on it. The last thing I wanted was to find out the car could not be registered, and have done all that hard work for nothing.
You might think purchasing a rusted hulk of a body would make a good start for a Restomod project, since you won’t be ripping up a good car. Some think purchasing a completely restored car with the intent of turning it into a Restomod would be a mistake or downright wrong. Of course I’m not saying to go out and buy an original Shelby GT350 and Restomod it, I’m just saying if you found a restored, bone-stock ’65 fastback with a 289, you might have a great candidate for a Restomod. If you spend more money in the beginning for a straight body, you might save time and money in the long run. Body and paint is typically the most expensive parts are of building any hot rod. Restomods are no exception, so buying a car that does not need two new quarter panels and a floorpan is a good investment. You can find rust almost anywhere under a vinyl top, especially at the base of the rear window.
Sometimes sellers are pretty good about making a badly damaged car look very good. A friend once bought a car with the entire trunk area attached with two-by-fours, drywall screws, and a ton of body filler. If she had known to look at the inside of the quarter panels from inside the trunk, she would have seen the horrible work. The trunk section fell off when she was in an accident. The moral of this story is: Check the inside of the body panels. Use a flashlight if necessary. Ask the seller if he or she would mind you taking the car to a shop and putting it up on a lift for further inspection before you purchase it. Check the bottom seam of the quarter panel from behind the rear tire to the tail panel. Check the bottom seam of the tail panel. These areas are often overlooked when a panel is replaced or when rust is repaired. Floor-panel replacement is hard to detect without putting the car up on a rack. Some body shops don’t spend a lot of time making floor panels look perfect, since most people won’t see them from underneath. Sometimes they leave the old rusty floorpan in place and put the panel right over the top. This allows rust to multiply fast, since moisture gets between panels.
If you’re buying a 30-year-old car from just about any state, you should inspect the car for rust damage. Even some California-coast cars have excessive rust from damp coastal weather. When it comes to the structure of cars, there are many problem areas.
Information comes in many forms. It can be technical data. It can be a picture. It can also be advice. There are quite a few sources to find this information. Books, people, and hands-on experience are a few options. There are many other places to get ideas and reference material. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open.
Books and Magazines There are many “How-To” books on the market. They have proven to be a good source of information and reference. I wouldn’t have been able to write this book if it weren’t for all the information I picked up in books over the years. In most cases, information written in books has been checked and is correct. But as with anything in life, it is a good idea to double (and triple) check information before starting any project.
Performance automotive magazines are also a good place to pick up new ideas. Some magazines try to keep up on the latest trends, while some try to keep more low-buck with cheap ways to modify your car. Cheap is good, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. An engine rebuilt with 15 dollars and some duct tape will not last you very long. Most hot-rod magazines try to be leading edge, by printing info about current products. Some products aren’t even available at the time of print. You may see a new dashboard set-up you think would look good in your car, or you might get to read about the addition of a modern Detroit powerplant between the fenders of a ’66 Mustang. Either way, there are many tips, tricks, and modifications waiting to be soaked up on the newsstands.
Manufacturers’ technical staff, speed shop personnel, friends, family, and other people can be great places to get information. Be careful. Get a second or third opinion before starting a project or buying a part.
Obviously, the manufacturer’s technical personnel are the most qualified to give you information on what you need for your application or how to install a part they sell. They know the limitations of their products better than anyone. Be aware that you have to ask them the correct questions to get the correct answers. Some tech personnel want to sell you their parts and might not supply all the information you want. This depends on the company. If you’re going to buy a transmission for your Restomod, you need to tell the company you have a 600- hp big-block and spend most of your time on the road course. Before you buy parts, make sure you let them know exactly how and where you plan to drive your car.
Checking with a competing manufacturer is also a good idea. It will give you an idea about what’s available and what may work best for you. Do your research before buying parts. Impulse buying doesn’t usually pay off.
Speed shops typically have at least one knowledgeable person who can offer great technical advice. Some speed shops are fully staffed with knowledgeable personnel. They can tell you which parts might be best for your application based on good and bad experiences they, and their customers, have had.
Friends and family members can be a good source of information, if they know what they’re talking about. You will need to make your own decisions on which friends you use as a resource of information. For instance, when I was 18, I had a friend named Chris Fogarty. He had already graduated from a technical school. He constantly distributed qualified advice that proved to be correct. I knew the advice from my goofball 16-year-old friend was not always correct. Even advice from my dad was not as qualified or as good as the advice from Chris. Deciding who to take advice from can be important to your car and even your life.
The Internet is a great source of information. It can also be a great source of bad information. Getting information from the Internet is much like getting information from your friends. Some websites have message boards and chat rooms. Be careful; a small percentage of people and websites post bad or erroneous information. On the other hand, most websites offer great information and reference material.
Corral.net, Pro-Touring.com, Stangnet.com, and Fordmuscle.com are a few websites in particular that are well put together. The message boards are filled with good information about every aspect of building and driving Restomods and Pro-Touring cars. Knowledgeable people frequent these sites to dispense good information about build-ups. Some of the people have finished a project that you may be starting. They might be able to offer advice on what works and what does not work.
Most of these websites also have good reference material. They have message boards with builders trading advice and experiences. The owners of the cars posted on these websites are friendly and willing to share technical information on how their cars were built, or tips on how to get better performance out of your next upgrade. I have been to a few websites that have some pretty brutal message boards. If you post a question that has been asked before, you’ll get some pretty nasty responses. It takes a lot to warm up to that crowd. Not all forums are the same.
The Internet is useful in other ways too. I needed to do a little research on the Internet for some pictures of full-frame cars. I wanted to see how the front suspensions were assembled without going out to the wrecking yard. You would think there are not very many pictures on the Internet of full-frame cars without their body shells on them. I went to Google.com, and instead of typing fullframe chassis in the search line, I clicked the little words Images above the search box. That takes you to the Google Images section of the search engine. This is very helpful. I picked a full-frame car and typed in Cyclone chassis. That didn’t find much, so I tried Galaxie frame, and that gave me a bare Galaxie chassis for the first picture. I decided to find what a ’66 Mustang steering box looked like out of the car. I tried Google and didn’t have much success, so I went to EBay.com and typed in ’65 Mustang steering box. It had some detailed photos of a steering box a guy had for sale. The photos gave me a chance to compare it to the steering box in my friend’s Mustang. This works for finding a set of headers that might fit your car. You can search for headers for a 460-powered ’66 Mustang. There are images of the clearance between the shock tower and the headers. That way, you can find parts other people have used with success. Doing some investigating can save you heartache and prevent your wallet from getting too empty.
New Car Dealers
Just like the wrecking yard, you can get new ideas on how to install parts and the latest technology by paying attention to the new car models. Maybe you will see a new cup holder or a third brake light that would be perfect for your car. Look under the hood of a new car. You will notice the trend of dress-up covers that hide necessary wires and hoses. Automotive manufacturers have found better ideas for wiring new vehicles. If you take a good look at wiring bulkheads and fuse boxes, you’ll notice better components than those used on a technologically challenged 1960s Ford wiring system. Check out the fit and finish of the interior and external panels. Manufacturers have advanced in this area in the last 15 years. Spending a little more time and paying attention to the fit and finish of your Restomod project makes a big difference.
Written by Tony Huntimer and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks