Do you have a filthy, painted-over but otherwise salvageable VIN, engine, transmission or other identification…
The sum of its Parts
Using Nos Parts In Your Restoration Can Pay Off… If Only You Can Find Them
With respect to Mark Twain, “The difference between the right part and the almost right part is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
When it comes to restoring an old car, you’ll generally find what you need in the robust world of aftermarket and reproduction parts. But if the name of your game is authenticity and only new old stock (NOS) parts will do, you still have options.
Anymore, it’s difficult to fully redo a classic using only NOS parts, so the key is to figure out how necessary a given component is to your overall happiness with the project. Then decide whether you can afford it.
Often we may try to avoid reproduction parts if they have known fit issues, but the same can be said for NOS parts, simply because they are leftovers that have been bumped and moved over the years. They may not agree with the way your car has been bumped and moved over those same years.
NOS interior pieces tend to offer the greatest impact — if you can find them in good health. Time takes its toll on soft things, remember, so while you may be able to use new 50-year-old upholstery components if they’re intact and not faded, tires, hoses and belts of the same vintage are only safe for display purposes.
To source NOS parts, you have several options. It never hurts to start by asking your forum buddies; after all, you’re in this together. Online parts retailers sometimes offer NOS stuff, so be sure to ask. Also, look for those few remaining dealerships that have been around for a long time and may not have purged all of their old stock.
Swap meets always reveal a trove of original bits, and they leave room for haggling. Great deals can come from face-to-face encounters, because you’re bidding the price down; on eBay there are also many NOS opportunities, but you’re bidding the price up.
Restorers, too, can be helpful, and if they don’t have what you’re after, they can usually point you at someone who might. And if you have the time and space for it, get a parts car. Make sure it has the pieces you need, of course, but then sell any desirable leftover parts you don’t need to help cover your costs. Congratulations, you’re funding your hobby!
Finally — critically — beware of people trying to pass off repop parts as NOS. If the seller has an NOS box and asks to keep it, chances are the part inside is fake. Save your money for the real deal.
While it’s true that you can completely rebuild certain popular classics using only reproduction parts, it’s also never been easier to search for important NOS components. Just remember that numbers are finite, especially if you’re redoing a one-year-only car. So if you stumble across something you think you might want, get it. You can always sell it down the line.