photo courtesy of David O'Neill
One of the most asked questions I've encountered since I've been rebuilding my Dodge pickups was "Where do you go to find your parts?" That is a good question and one that needs answering. Hopefully, this article will help.
There isn't any one parts source that you could go to. It is a combination of sources that enhance your chances of getting what you need. Take the 1953-56 Ford F100 for example. You can now buy catalogs that can supply you with any part you need. One quick phone call and your order is in the mail. If the one catalog doesn't have it, another probably does. I'll bet that you can build a complete F100 from parts catalogs. We all wish it was that easy sometimes for us Dodge owners. Maybe someday in the future we will be able to do that but the reality is we don't have that option yet. In my search for parts, there was very little out there. I was frustrated many times trying to find something for my 1957 D100. However, there are things you can do, and places you can go to find parts.
Having a computer is a excellent resource and tool to help you search. My wife discovered Ebay one day on the internet and while browsing around in the Dodge section, she found a clip-on mirror for sun visors, up for bid, with the letters D O D G E etched across the top of it. It was of very little importance to most anyone but a HUGE find to me. For one thing, it was a source I never knew exsisted. It was a source for nationwide parts that I could go to anytime, day or night. At that time (about 1998) you could type in Dodge in your search and find up to about 500 items. Now it is hovering around 9,000-11,000. Although there is a lot of junk to wade through to find that part (and you can narrow it down), and sometimes long waits before the item you need comes up for bid, it is well worth the effort. Plus, you can browse through Plymouth, DeSoto, Chrysler, and Mopar catagories in addition to Dodge to find parts. I have found more things on Ebay than any other source thus far. I'm not plugging for Ebay, but I can't deny their significance to me. There are other auction sites as well, like Yahoo. One other thing to consider with the auctions. Sometimes the sellers can be a parts source. All the auctions have a place where you can email them and some of these sellers might not have all their parts listed. A few of the sellers are NOS parts distributers. If you have a hunch, it doesn't hurt to ask.
Another good source is the search engine on the internet. If you have a lot of free time, you could type in Dodge and search the overwhelming Dodge sites. Being word specific helps, such as "old dodge", "classic dodge", "vintage dodge" " dodge pickup", etc., as examples. Use your imagination. It is time consuming and the rewards are few. If you know the name of a certain company, type in that name and hit search. Most of your big companies are online now. If that doesn't find them, advance your search through the Googles search engine. While at a website, look for links to other sites. I've found many new sources that way.
Street and Classic Truck magazine ads are another source, although limited. I was looking for a independent front suspension system for my truck when finally one day Fatman Fabrications had a ad listing my truck and year. I called them, and bought the part. That ad made my day! If you don't see it in a ad or catalog, call them up. You might get lucky. Another benefit to that is, if they get enough calls for something, they just might manufacture it. I already mentioned catalogs for the F100, but I've found a few things that I could use in catalogs. Just watch yourself here. I've spent a lot of money on them and found only a few things I could use. More and more aftermarket companies are giving their catalogs away, which probably gives them a little extra business. Also, check into Hemmings Motor News. It is a good source for specific vehicles and parts. They have lots of ads from individuals and dealers.
Swap meets. I go to the Portland, Oregon swap meet every chance I get. Besides it being one of the biggest meets (3 day event) on the west coast (and within 2 hours from home), it has a great variety of vendors. For us true blue Dodge fans, there isn't 1/10th of the vendors Ford or Chevy has, but given the size of the meet there is a chance you may find something or someone knows where you might get it.
Another good source for help are with groups that are similar to your interests. Maybe some Mopar club, or as in my case, a couple of egroups. I get lots of information from the Forward Look list and the 54-60 Dodge Trucks egroup. There are a couple more I'm going to sign on with, which I think can be of benefit to me. The TW list is Town Wagon, military and civilian Power Wagons. They have a lot of members and help each other a lot.
I've been told and have read, that NAPA parts stores do a good job of being able to locate parts. As I understand it, you have to get somebody that's been with them a while and knows how or where to search. I've never used them, so I can't confirm this.
The last thing is, you can find an old parts truck, either through a wrecking yard or from an individual, and get the parts from it. I really hate to see these old trucks being used for parts, but that's all some of them are good for. I've even done this myself. There is no sense in wasting parts (by crushing) when there is someone out there desperately needing it.
These are some of the ideas and sources to help you get started. A lot of my finds have come from exhaustive searches that I didn't think were going to go anywhere. Imagination, determination, and getting lucky sometimes, will help you with your investigations. Good luck!