Sandy’s Aftermath: The classic car parts market

So you’ve called all of your friends in the Northeast who live anywhere near Sandy’s wake. Some got away with their prized collector cars intact while others endured total losses. You, however, are in the middle of a restoration and the continued availability of parts is your main concern, whether they be NOS, used, or repro. What effect will this hurricane have on the parts market as well as the parts themselves going forward? How will it affect you as an end-user?

While some believe that the market may see a proliferation of flood-damaged parts as cars get written off and parted out in the coming months, other experts see a different scenario that would mean declining parts availability for several reasons.

The sudden spike in the number of totaled collector cars may not increase the supply of used parts after all. Jeff Brenner of Octagon Auto states that interior, mechanical, and especially electrical parts will be ruined and beyond salvage while sheet metal, chrome and glass will still be useable. The market however, may not ever see any of these parts. “In my experience, once a car gets totaled and receives a salvage title from flood damage, it frequently gets bought from the insurance company and then gets resold to a collector in Europe or South America who has no idea of the car’s history,” Brenner says.

Another factor may be an increased demand for what parts are available. The folks at Ragtops and Roadsters in Perkasie, Pa., report that they have already received their first flood-damaged car for repair and the phone is starting to ring from more owners looking to line up their wounded classics for restoration. James From, Marketing Supervisor for Kanter Auto Products, states that while he hasn’t seen a lot of inquiries for parts and restorations yet, he expects that demand for both will increase with the usual post-holiday rise in sales and restoration work. In addition, he believes this seasonal rise could be further boosted as the owners of hurricane-damaged settle claims and book times for repairs in preparation for the driving season.

Mr. From notes that current parts availability is being hindered by the hurricane’s effect on shipping and infrastructure. “We’ve encountered a two-week backlog in just getting parts out,” he says. Although Kanter’s New Jersey warehouse wasn’t damaged, electrical service was interrupted at parts facilities that they work with which in turn creates a ripple effect with shippers.

It’s difficult to make accurate predictions about parts availability so soon after Sandy’s, but prudent collectors will do well to have their baking soda solutions or other oxidization reversers close at hand, look diligently at all available parts sources now and, most importantly, order needed parts sooner rather than later. The combination of salvage cars being bought and resold, increased restoration work for hurricane-damaged cars, and logjams in the supply chain could all conspire to overextend the existing parts supply in coming months.

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