One needs to be careful when choosing "alternative" fabrics for automotive use. Fabric not specifically labeled as "automotive" will fade quickly and begin to disintegrate in an automotive environment due to UV exposure. Check with aircraft supply shops that deal with custom aircraft interiors. They can sometimes find things that others can't.
I would guess one of the rarest parts that are not only no longer available but, when asked to make one is greeted by "HUH??" from today's manufacturers, is the two-color convertible top available on the 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire. I think this is probably the ONLY convertible ever with a two-color top. If you have not seen one, there is a contrasting color strip on the edge of the top:
Since this was a 1/2 year car and they only made about 8,000 of them, and since you had to specify this option, not many were made. Funny, the major top makers today had no idea what I was talking about when I asked them to make one several years ago when I was trying to buy one of these rare cars. People that own them hardly ever sell them, and many that are around today are missing MANY rare parts for them such as the hubcaps and rear and hood trim pieces as well as the carpets with the inserted metal trim.
So, this is my candidate for another of MANY rare parts, but one that probably COULD be reproduced today by a top manufacturer (Robbins?) that tried!
Monza chassis was actually just the Vega platform, with many of the same mechanical parts. The body parts, however, were specific to that series. I bought one new in 78, with the Spyder package. Cool looking, but what a piece of GM junk, everything rattled or broke.
I own an ‘83 Bronco (Gen 3) I am restoring and many parts are easy to find, but there are some that are near impossible. Probably the hardest to find are the aluminum tailgate trim panels and rear speaker grilles. There are folks 3D printing the speaker grilles but the tailgate trim panels are super rare and cost a fortune when you do find one.
Of all things, Chrysler quit making the fuel line for my 2004 Concorde LX. Unfortunately squirrels love the taste of the plastic line (which I'm told was made from a soy product) so they went through two of them before Chrysler quit making them. I liked to joke that the squirrels would eat through the fuel line and then run around in circles in the yard until they ran out of gas!
We had an 07 Pacifica. The positive terminal was soncorroded by 6 years I needed a replacement. Well guess what? Chrysler had already stopped making replacement terminals (they were a specific shape) so I had to Jerry rig one from OReillys.
I have a problem reusing exhaust bolts; especially on 32-year old vehicles. Doing work on a 1990 Ford Bronco II recently (yes, the same 2.9L engine as the same era's Rangers), I went to replace original bolts that go from the Y-pipe to the exhaust manifold as well as exhaust manifold to the heads. No dice for the Y-pipe bolts or the 75mm bolts that go into the heads. I was able to get stainless bolts to replace the shorter ones going into the heads, but the rest got polished up and reused while saying a prayer.
My suggestion for a dream part? Nylon speedometer gearbox drive gear, 1974 MGB. I take mine out every night and lock it in a safe to protect it. Hey, you never know what MG folks will do to get one of these. 🙂
This sounds like another 3D CAD part that could be made on a CNC machine, like a few hundred. This very well may be a drive gear used on something else. If that could be discovered it may be readily available. Are there no interchange manuals for British manufactured cars?
I'm glad to hear that people are trying to find their original interiors. One of my favorite things is original interiors, especially when they are somewhat unique to a period. From the brass-era house-like interiors onward there seems to always be a piece of historical context with a good interior. It's unfortunate when people have to resort to modern interiors for lack of choice.
I second the "Grilles of Classics Past". I have been looking for an original, or a good original-style reproduction, grille for my 1933 Ford roadster. The originals that show up generally have serious rust worm problems or have been damaged beyond economical repair. And those are selling for silly money, with prices ranging from $3k to $7k, BEFORE you start trying to fix all the damage problems and incurring replating costs. I have recently found one company making a quality, original-style reproduction of the 1933 grilles. Believe it or not, it is a husband & wife team that has all of the correct tooling and press machinery to reproduce a quality 1933 grille - the only product they make. However, because of the serial nature of the manufacturing process, they only make one batch a year. After trying for a few years to find a good original, I am now on their waiting list for one of the reproduction grilles; hopefully to be ready some time late next year. Not for the faint of heart!
I can relate to this. Body trim parts seem to be unobtainable too. I've been looking for a trim cover for my Rivi door pull that covers the screw,,,12 years later, still cannot find one.
Sadly after a recent relocation I had to give up almost all the trim parts, bumpers, rear glass,complete front clip, rear deck lid, ect. I'd acquired for a 72 Rivi and they ended up being picked up by a scrap metal re-cycler,,so sad they'll go to waste. But I'd bought that pile of stuff wanting only the rear end, trans and motor which was the only things I could utilize sense all 3 years of the boat tails were pretty much unique unto themselves as far as trim and body panels go.
Having finished my fox, I got totally spoiled. I never truly appreciated how impossible it is to find parts could be on some cars. I am currently working on two absolute PITAs, finding parts is impossible. The one I wasn’t expecting to be difficult, a 1988 Acura integra, yikes! Everything available is 1990 up. The second comprises almost entirely of pure unobtainom, a 1955 imperial. Clearly I should have bought a Belair and a civic.
Regarding Chevrolet Impalas, specifically quarter panels, for the 67-68 model years are the toughest to source. There are off shore made two piece jobber panels, however, the quality is too be desired. With the advent of 3D technology, I wish someone would make a proper quarter panel with the correct lines. While they’re at it, make a domed hood with air intake insert while they’re at it.
I'd like to add another needed part. 1971-74 Panteras had 15 inch Campagnola magnesium wheels. Finding suitable performance tires is a real problem for us. As a result many have opted for larger Campagnola-look aluminum wheels just to get good tires. It's also a problem for other 70's cars with 15 inch tires.
For the tires, try Roger Krause in Castro Valley, CA. More specifically, the Avon CR6ZZ radial (super grippy for a high performance street tire) is just the ticket for Cobras wearing correct staggered 15” wheels just like your Pantera.
Stands to reason these are all Boomer cars with absolutely no interesting things on here.
Honda is pretty notorious about stopping production of accessories the moment a car stops being produced, and only makes replacement parts for 15 years or so. I gave up on an 89 CRX because so many of the trim pieces, seals, and interior bits were unobtainium in 2002, never mind 2022
All I can say is "never give up". I've had my 1961 E-type roadster for nearly forty years and for 30 of those I have been looking for a Williams & Pritchard Sebring hard top. They were only made for four years and not many were sold. One removes the boot lid and the hard top turns the roadster into a Kamm-tail spacious Grand Tourer. Only one was thought to exist, and only half of one it turned out, but finally this January I found one that had been taken apart and stored in a garage to await restoration forty years ago. So, it is under restoration and this winter will grace my E-type. As I say, never give up.
As much as you made an uncalled for distasteful remark, I have to agree with your comment about Honda and their lack of support for phased out models. It's ridiculous when you see how many significant cars they made, only to be relegated to questionable street-racer parts for lack of any better options.
How about the driver's side front-fender peak (it runs the length of the fender) polished molding for a 1969 Olds Cutlass S convertible. The 1968 version was a NLA 2-piece, which I would accept, but I'd rather source the OEM part. A massive cluster of tumbleweeds rolled across the El Paso freeway slowly in the late 80s, I tried to time it right, but the tumbleweed knew what it wanted (Ironically, I lived on, and still do, Tumbleweed Avenue). I didn't know the trim was gone for days, but I also parked the car shortly after; it's been waiting since 1989 for a re-do, which my wife just ok'd this year. Are there any old-time craftsmen still around that can form one by hand?
You should try and find body and interior parts for 70s AMC cars.. You are at the mercy of E-BAY. What they want for them is ridiculous and not in much better condition than the ones you already have. I had a 1962 Plymouth Valiant "Signa 200" 2 door hard top---parts for it were near impossible to find. Drive train fine--225 slant 6---904 Torque flite tranny---not so hard but anything else is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Finally I just gave it to my son.
1967 Sunbeam Tiger Mk II washer fluid bottle. By the time the Mk II was built, Sunbeam was fully owned by Chrysler but still used the Ford 289. They only built around 600 Mk II cars and there are several trim pieces that are rare. Even though the bottle was made by Tudor it is not shared with any other car, and I guess Chrysler did not care too stock spares for it.
How about a simple throttle position switch for fuel injected volvo 1800es and ess. The part is almost impossible to find and it crucial for the FI system to work. Very frustrating as a number of other FI systems using that system use a similar but not identical switch.
Huge problem for the motorcycle world too. Just off the top of my head since I'm working on one now, Honda no longer makes water pumps for the VFR700/750 or the v4 Magna's. Crazy since they probably produced 100's of thousands of these engines over the years and they aren't that old (80's). There are some rebuild kits of questionable quality but there is nothing like bolt on OEM... If you have an old Bultaco, you better be friends with a machine shop! OEM exhaust pipes for vintage bikes are absolutely unobtanium. But amazingly enough, you can still buy a OEM seat for a Z50A Monkey from Honda or a rear fender for a RZ350 from Yamaha!
Had a 84 V45 magna that got totaled and surgery for me when a young girl pulled out in front of me doing 55mph. Now have a 2005 VFR800. Close to 40,000 on the clock. Going to ride it till the wheels fall off then I'm going to restore my 74 CB400f and take life at a slower pace. If I can't find the parts might look at a old CB 750 since they were more popular and more made.