Hen's Teeth For The Shift-It-Yourself Savoy
When my wife Sarah and I brought home our '55 Plymouth (affectionately referred to as 'Minerva'), we knew that finding parts would be a little more difficult than they've been for our '47 Chevrolet.
Scratch that. They're next to impossible.
The Chevy is a mail order wonder. If you need a correct bolt for the rear bumper guard, you can have one sent to your house in less than a week from a multitude of suppliers. If it was a little bit later model, we could actually mail order an entire reproduction body and build our own rust-free example from the ground-up. Some say that's cheating, but cheaters still win most of the time.
Mail order parts for the Plymouth? Well, that's another story. No matter if your quest is to find good OEM replacement front shock absorbers, a reproduction trunk mat, or a quality wiring harnesses, if you own a '55 Plymouth... you're usually out of luck.
Suppliers will say the same thing: There's simply not enough demand for these parts.
Of course there's a few parts houses that do a decent job of keeping popular parts stocked so that these Mopars can stay on the road, and we commend them for their work. Sadly, their inventory is most often relegated to service replacement parts that are slightly different than OEM, or made overseas with questionable quality. Often times its more efficient to rebuild what you have and shop for a quality used piece or New Old Stock (NOS) part that's never been installed on a vehicle. Chrome, stainless and mechanical parts store fairly well. Rubber or electrical parts can deteriorate right in the box and degrade to a point where they're no longer useful to a restorer, yet the sellers claim top dollar since its "new in the box!" Dude, the box was in a moldy basement that flooded twice in the last 24 years. Do you still think that starter solenoid is worth $75? Seriously. Its got stalagmites on it.
|Like a tractor beam, the Plymouth's lines sucked us in. The obsolete parts issue its part of the 'fun' of it all.|
I know you Studebaker, Hudson, Mercury and Pontiac owners have no sympathy. "Join the club" you usually say. Indeed, times have always been tough for the orphan and independent car owners. Good NOS parts supplies have been largely depleted for decades as restorers plucked pieces from there while bringing high dollar cars back to life. The folks with the primo stuff nowadays command astronomical prices for their wares, and that's understandable. They aren't making the stuff anymore, right?
As time marches on, highly correct restorations are going the way of the Huppmobile and disappearing. Street rods, resto-mods, and rat rods are rapidly replacing factory-correct restorations. This also creates weak demand for OEM parts. We should also acknow ledge the aging audience for our hobby, and those who buy and sell old parts at the swap meets. Speaking of those, eBay has effectively put a giant dent in real live swap meets where people lug parts for miles, walk for hours, and smile for years after claiming a sought-after prize for their classic car or truck.
Rather than feel defeated about the lack of aftermarket or reproduction support, I've decided to turn it into an Indiana Jones style archaeological expedition.
|Ever see a grey pedal pad? Neither did I until we bought this Plymouth. Of course they did, why be conventional?|
Why am I whining about the lack of available parts for my old Plymouth?
For one, my wife says I like to whine.
Another reason I'm prattling on is because our clutch pedal pad in our standard shift Savoy crumbled and fell off. While I'm not a total perfectionist, I wanted to locate a suitable OEM replacement in the original grey rubber. Plymouth used grey rubber pedal pads for some reason, and I love the uniqueness of that. I tried to order a set of gas, brake and clutch pads from a large East Coast supplier and they sent me the gas pedal and listed the other two as 'out of stock' on my receipt. When I called to inquire if they would be back in stock I was told they wouldn't be since they have such low demand for the grey parts.
Darn it, now one our of three pedals looks really nice.
To fix the other pedals I'd have to find NOS or live with what I had, which were crumbly. I was bummed. The good news was the clutch pedal pad still had the original Mopar part number on it, so I could search the internet for an NOS part. I did find a few online for gobs of money, but I didn't want to wrap up one-tenth of my car's purchase price in pedal pads.
Then there's the bad news. The brake pedal pads aren't the same as the clutch because... why would they be?
They're actually a solid piece of metal with a mounting stud inside a vulcanized rubber pad that looks identical to the clutch pedal. More uniqueness, courtesy of the Plymouth division. Thanks, guys!
Cue the Indiana Jones theme music.
Without revealing my master plan, I have a solution in the works, and I hope to update this post once things work out. For now I'll just say it involves a few eBay auctions, a warehouse in Washington state, and a local adult novelty manufacturer.
Hey, I'm trying to be resourceful while keeping this blog PG-13.
Keep posted. I hope to be able to have something fun to whine about soon.