I recently received a letter from a young reader, which reminded me of a time long, long ago when I was in the beginning stages of my very first rodstoration. Give it a read, I’m sure we can all relate.

Riz,

I’ve recently restored, with my dad, a ’72 Chevy pickup. I must say it was a long haul and a lot of work, but the end result paid off. However, during the restoration we came across many setbacks. We ordered most of our parts through catalogs, and a lot of money was spent to make sure our truck would look and run good. However, when we received various parts, we noticed small imperfections on the products while installing them. The grille we received had small scratches on it, the seat cover didn’t fit right, the tailgate was too short, and the dash bezel too small. My dad and I had to settle with these imperfections and were disappointed with the quality of them. Why are these so-called “quality” parts sold if they’re not going to fit the correct way? Did we just get stuck with some bad parts or is this an ongoing struggle for other people and their projects? Please explain!

Yours Sincerely,

Robert Thompson

Robert,

Welcome to the world of resto/rodstoration, or should we say the world of “bump ’n’ grind.” Believe us Rob, the vast majority of aftermarket performance and restoration parts and accessories on the market truly do “fit,” it’s just a matter of how easily. There are a few factors that come into play when you’re trying to sew back together a vehicle that’s 25-50 years old. Over the years, any classic has more than likely been, as the old saying goes, “ridden hard and put away wet,” not to mention bumped and twisted who knows how many times. When you add these variables to the fact that past manufacturing processes were not nearly as uniform as they are today, you’re going to run across replacement parts that fit nearly perfectly on a majority of vehicles, and not so perfectly on a minority. In fact, I’d venture to say that some of the parts that fit your particular project perfectly may have had to been “persuaded” to fit someone else’s ’72 Chevy pickup!

What you’ve got to understand is that the replacement parts you’ve purchased and used on your project have more than likely “morphed” over time so that they fit in a majority of cases. Keep in mind that many of these components were developed in some cases using the manufacturer’s own personal (or borrowed) truck or car for prototyping, then trial fit on any number of vehicles before being put into production. I can just about guarantee that said part didn’t fit every one perfectly and it was massaged so that the final product fit the majority with little or no modification. I can also surmise that with a bit of finesse, that same part could be used in nearly every case. Get my drift?

Take your tailgate for example. Was it 6 inches too short? Or was it an 1⁄8 inch too short? Did your dash bezel fall through the hole in the dash, or did the edge just not quite line up with the original? These are things you’ve got to take into consideration if you’re going to continue messing with old trucks (or cars for that matter). But don’t get me wrong, if your replacement tailgate was 6 inches too short, or your dash bezel did fall through the hole in the dash, then by all means, get a hold of the manufacturer and get the problem taken care of. But if it was really close and with a bit of persuasion you made it fit perfectly, then join the club and consider yourself an honorary masochist … er, hobbyist.

Just think about the skills you’ve honed on your first restoration. Another couple of projects and you’ll be installing parts that “fit” without a second thought! As far as parts scratched or damaged parts are concerned, many times this is a result of shipping and can be handled through the carrier and/or supplier. Best Regards.