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Whether you’re planning to tackle a vehicle restoration by yourself or with help from a repair shop, you’re going to need to source parts at some point. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the decisions that need to be made as part of the restoration process, so here are some helpful tips to source quality parts from reliable partners.

1. Make a game plan.

Before you do anything, you need to decide what kind of restoration you’re going for. Do you want to prioritize original, brand-name parts? Or are you going for more of a resto-mod with a mix of original and modern parts made according to today’s safety and technology standards? Maybe your budget will be the deciding factor. Start with an idea of the kinds of parts you’re looking for, then proceed to step two.

2. Seek out recommendations.

There are thousands of car enthusiasts and collectors out there who love nothing more than talking shop. In fact, you’re probably one of them. With any restoration, it’s always a good idea to ask around in online forums and on social media to find parts dealers that come highly recommended. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for brand name, original parts. Someone has probably already done the work for you and would be happy to save you hours of searching.

That being said, some parts are quite difficult to find and regular parts dealers just won’t have them. You’re going to have to get creative. You might try buying online from a private seller, heading to a junkyard to pull the part yourself, or purchasing an entire vehicle just for certain parts. In those situations, it’s important to look out for any repairs or defects you might need to address after purchase. Those costs can add up quickly.

3. Read the fine print. 

Restoring classic cars is not a cheap hobby, so you want to make sure every parts purchase you make is legit. There are a lot of reputable online parts dealers, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry when you buy online. Be sure to carefully vet any online sources you use before adding anything to your cart. You’ll want to understand their return policies and how to contact their customer service to make sure you’re covered should something go wrong. You also might want to ask for more pictures, detailed measurements or further details about a part you’re considering. The bottom line is to be certain that the part you’re buying is exactly what you need, so you don’t waste time or money getting it wrong.

With the right research, you should be able to find whatever you’re looking for to make your vision a reality. Just be patient, ask for help and stay focused on your goals. Within no time, you’ll be right on track to restoring the car of your dreams.

If you want to see a classic car restoration in action, episode seven of Fast Forward Garage, our original web series, has you covered. Follow along as the crew at Ludlow Automotive and Speed Shop start part one of the restoration of a ’67 Corvette. Don’t forget to check out all the episodes on our YouTube and Facebook pages.