Building an old car or should I say resurrecting an old car, whether you restore it, resto-mod it or whatever, is both rewarding and frustrating both at the same time. You’ll always need parts and parts are often hard to find, or even not available at all. This has been the case for as long as people have been “restoring” anything that’s been out of production for many years.
The scenario has actually spawned an entire industry, reproduction parts, after-market parts, performance parts etc. not to mention the many shops that specialize in repairing/rebuilding old things for you.
Being a self-proclaimed “Car Guy” for as long as I can remember, I have been fixing/restoring these old cars for a long time. When I first jumped into a restoration with both feet (in 1973) the car I was restoring was just 13 years old. At that time older Corvettes were just that… old. Nobody restored them then really. The good news was a lot of parts were still available right from the dealer, but not everything. Specialty wrecking yards had come into being and because Corvettes were popular you could find most of what you needed either new or good used. Reproduction parts didn’t really exist then, except for reproduction body parts.
As good used parts began to disappear and GM discontinued production on the older stuff “repops” of the many hard to find parts became available. Some of the first reproduction parts were just ok at best but as time passed better quality repro parts were produced, thankfully.
For many metal cars when new OE parts weren’t available you had to search high and low for good used ones and when those became scarce another aspect of the after-market/reproduction parts industry was born even to include entire bodies being stamped and or new parts/cars made of fiberglass.
Unfortunately, some of the repro parts looked good but didn’t fit or weren’t made quite right, poor bends, wrong size, thinner metal. As time passed improvements have been made but I personally have recently experienced extreme frustration with the quality, fit and finish of after market parts for my 55 Chevy Sedan. I bought repro-doors. They look amazing! They aren’t cheap to buy or ship, and they don’t fit… period. I’ve expressed my disappointment to some of the “pros” I know and asked if they had experienced the same thing. The answer was uniformly a resounding “YES.” I couldn’t believe it! These parts are expensive! They cost a ton and to have them not fit really makes me mad.
I know that the fit and finish of a 55 Chevy from new wasn’t as precise as modern cars are today, so I have to say I expected a little bit of fitment issues but… when you look close the style lines aren’t straight, the bends aren’t crisp, the mating surfaces are way off plumb, the upper front corners where they meet the cowl and the fender are at least ¼ of an inch too high and not shaped correctly to match up with the cowl and fender. They aren’t even close! And to repair them would take a master metal man, not a novice like me.
I have six old OE doors but they too need repair (a qualified metal man) and would likely cost a lot of money to repair them but having to spend a lot of money on repairing brand new doors that you just spent a lot of money to buy is really disappointing. Don’t’ get me wrong reproduction parts have improved dramatically but these doors are a long way from being a bolt on and go, part.
I hope this poor quality fit and finish gets fixed soon and it has improved some but there is a long way to go before I’ll be happy. Buyer Beware.