Jim’s Blog: How Do You Hunt for Parts?

If you’ve ever taken on a project car, then you know that the job of bringing it back to life is never really complete. Wear items wear out, and other things like wheels or performance parts tend to get swapped out as owners’ interests change.

Most car people also have a list of things they’d like to do to their cars eventually, usually as their budget allows, or when the rare part they’d like finally surfaces somewhere for the right price. A set of 15×8 steel hubcap wheels for my ’72 Chevy K10 has been in my crosshairs recently.

I’ve been looking for a set on and off since I got the truck back in 2009. It’s currently fitted with later 15×8 4×4 rally wheels, which you’ll find on pretty much every other GM 4×4 of this vintage. I’ve always liked the older hubcap-style wheels better. You’d think finding a set of 8s would be pretty easy, but it isn’t. But the hunt is half the fun, right?

Why are these simple rims hard to find? First, nobody reproduces them in six-lug for 4x4s, so buying used is my only option. Second, as I learned from a Chevy truck forum, there were at least two designs released from GM — one for drum brakes (with three hubcap retaining nubs) and one for discs (with four hubcap nubs). The drum wheels won’t work on disc-equipped trucks, which my ’72 is. That cuts the available supply in half. Finally, not a lot of these are out there for sale in the first place, and the ones that are tend to be prized by their owners. How prized? A member on that same truck forum recently had a set of five, with hubcaps, listed for sale for $900. That’s pretty steep, especially considering my truck already has a set of wheels. Or so says my wife.

I’ve hunted swapmeets for years looking for the right set at a reasonable price, but I never found them. Lately, I’ve been watching the web more carefully, even though I don’t think it’s quite as rewarding to click and buy as to physically hunt them down.

Last week, I tripped over a priced-right set on eBay Motors that I couldn’t pass up. They appeared to be in decent overall shape, and I won them on the first bid. $120. The listing wasn’t as specific as I’d have liked, but they looked right, and at that price, it was worth the gamble to me. They’re in-transit now from Colorado, and I can’t wait to bolt one up to make sure they’re in fact exactly what I was looking for.

Do you have a list of long-term changes in mind for your car? How do you hunt for the parts that you need? Is the tried-and-true junkyard or swapmeet scour still the best way, or have you given in to the ease of the Internet in locating those rare items? Let me know in the comments below.