Home » Want To Buy Rare Car Parts In Another Country? Try This: COTD

Want To Buy Rare Car Parts In Another Country? Try This: COTD

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It takes a lot of determination to own vehicles with scarce parts support. One small fender bender could have you out of commission for weeks or longer. If you’re rolling in something that wasn’t originally sold in America, wasn’t sold in high numbers, went out of production decades ago, comes from a dead company, or any combination of those factors, you may find a dearth of parts for sale online.

For a personal example, I own four cars that were never sold in America. That list includes a Honda Beat, a Suzuki Every, an early Smart Fortwo diesel, and an early Smart Fortwo gasser. Nobody stocks parts for a Suzuki Every in America, so I have to import parts from Japan or Australia. The imported Smarts get their parts either from Canada, somewhere in Europe, or China. Sometimes, I run into a seller who just doesn’t want to deal with international shipping. I get it. Many years ago I used to buy, sell, repair, and modify smartphones for fun and even I was not too fond of international shipping.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Today, Lewin published an article about an artisan who solved a problem with unobtainable, crazy expensive Jaguar taillights by making his own. Adrian pointed out that you don’t need to pay $1,000 for super-rare Jaguar taillights:

$1000-$2000? Seriously?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/323694486168

But there’s just one problem: the seller doesn’t want to ship to the United States, as pointed out by Gubbin:

“Doesn’t post to the United States” so you have to include airfare to the UK to pick them up. /s

Reminds me of when I was looking at prices for a drug for a common neurological condition, and realized that it would be cheaper to fly from the US West Coast to London to buy it every 6 months than to pay US prices.

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eBay

Here comes Mike Harrell with some genuinely good advice that has helped me in the past. Just send the seller a message, you never know when they might say yes:

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I’ve had pretty good luck (perhaps 75%-ish success) with asking eBay sellers in the UK to ship car parts to me in the US despite that warning. I attribute this to a combination of:

(1) sympathy for my heartfelt plea that I really do own a [whichever UK-market absurdity is involved this time] over here and therefore clearly I need all the help I can get,

(2) my up-front offer to pay a premium for shipping, including (hint-hint) my lack of concern should they choose to pad the bill and pocket the difference as compensation for their trouble,

and

(3) an enlightened self-interest on the part of the seller that there’s probably not that much of a domestic market these days for, say, an Allegro 3 speedometer anyway, so it’s best to take whatever offer comes along.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Mine’s certainly more consistent with the new speedometer, though.

That last line is great! Thank you Mike! For a second COTD today, we have Trust Doesn’t Rust, who gives Jason a perfect excuse for any errors on our pages:

As for his current errors: Dude’s heart exploded. Too soon.
As for his previous errors: Dude’s heart was getting ready to explode. Cut him some slack.

In case you didn’t notice, we missed a few COTD entries. Friday’s COTD didn’t publish as I chose a comment that was a bit too spicy. I wonder if you can guess what that comment was. I also just got back home from an adventure in Colorado that has left my entire body feeling oh so sore. But, I’m back and feeling better! Have a great evening, everyone.

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GirchyGirchy
GirchyGirchy
23 days ago

There are also mail-forwarding companies such as MyUKMailbox. I’ve used them a couple of times with good results, but only if the seller’s unwilling to ship straight to the US.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
23 days ago

It’s not just foreign cars. I needed a rear seat grab handle for my 99 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. The original was ripped out of the ceiling when an unseen large bump was hit at speed. I called every junkyard in the tri state area and they all told me they had crushed those cars. I managed to order an incorrect color and apparently incorrect side of car one on eBay. I gave up after months of looking when the car failed inspection due to structural rust.

It’s one thing owning a vintage enthusiast car, I’ve owned many, but owning a vintage everyday car is very challenging as there is no one interested in supporting them. IV never had issues finding parts for my BMW E36, Jeep MJ or Austin Healey Sprite, but that Oldsmobile, most parts that weren’t related to the engine were basically unobtainable.

Sklooner
Sklooner
26 days ago

I bought some Volvo parts from a guy in Virginia whose profile said ‘ships to The Americas’ but sent me an insult and obscenity laden reply when I sent my Canadian address, I replied with a bunch of text explaining what ‘The Americas’ are but had to get my parts elsewhere

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
26 days ago
Reply to  Sklooner

The Americas actually meaning the contiguous US?

Sklooner
Sklooner
26 days ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

He meant the USA, not North South and Central America

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
26 days ago

This is how the official Autopian International Parts Smuggling department gets started.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
26 days ago

Count me in! I’m always looking for parts for my International, too.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
26 days ago

Begging has yet to manifest in any of the German sellers being willing to send me a leather Touareg dash.

So here I am, plastic dash peasant man.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
26 days ago

I was going to add plastic steps to my Isuzu Amigo that would allow me to get to the roof easier. I really did like that rig and built it up a lot.

However, the only steps that would fit were off of the Mexican Chevy Tornado. So, armed with my elementary-ish Spanish, Google Translate, and eBay, I snagged a pair from a breaker south of the border. Legitimately one of the smoothest transactions I’ve ever had in my life.

Seller even sent some off Mexican candy in the package for good will. I did not eat said candy.

A year or so later the Amigo engine blew. I still have the steps lol

AlterId
AlterId
26 days ago

Apparently I did post that last Friday, but I thought it was just, um, cheeky.

Jmfecon
Jmfecon
26 days ago

Mercedes, you are my inspiration to eventually import an old japanese auction car. Eventually, I am not ready for that yet.

But as any enthusiast know, the ownership of an imported car, no matter where you are in the world, is more like a state of mind than anything else.

Even with deep pockets, you know that eventually you will need to buy something abroad, just because you could not find what you need in your country.

And let me share a good tip: if you know that a car is sold in several countries, look for parts in unsual countries marketplaces. You would be surprised on how cheap you may be able to source german luxury parts (e.g. BMW) from places like Brazil or Mexico just because the seller doesn’t know or won’t charge what is usually charged abroad.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
26 days ago

Ebay has an international shipping program in the UK to the US and down under. Maybe the seller isn’t aware?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/help/global-shipping-programme/default/global-shipping-programme?id=4646

Last edited 26 days ago by Cheap Bastard
Art of the Bodge
Art of the Bodge
26 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I don’t have much confidence of a fragile part surviving the GSP process.

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
27 days ago

Friday you say? Spicy? Hmm, I recall Sid Bridge listed a couple of Porsche model names (Panamera, Cayenne and Taycan, IIRC). But it was mostly harmless.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
26 days ago
Reply to  OCS-BN

Just naming a few lovely Porsche models. Good old family fun. Some people just have their minds in the wrong place…

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
27 days ago

Thanks! I meant it about the Allegro’s speedometer. With the new one it’s been a refreshing 71.6 miles so far without the needle bouncing around randomly and the drive unit intermittently emitting a shrill grinding sound:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/53503996439_fa5ff70d3a_c.jpg

This one was a new old stock unit with one mile showing on the odometer when I took it out of the box a couple of weeks ago.

Happy Walters
Happy Walters
26 days ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

🙂

Last edited 26 days ago by Happy Walters
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
27 days ago

I am absolutely burning to know what that Friday comment was

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
27 days ago

I wrote “fusck you”, not f-dash-dash-dash! And anyway, Jason said it first!!

This is SO unfair!

El Jefe de Barbacoa
El Jefe de Barbacoa
27 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

You’re on fuscking timeout, buddy.

Eric Gonzalez
Eric Gonzalez
27 days ago

Two words: Freight Forwarders.

I live in Costa Rica. I buy essentially all my car parts from FCP Euro, ECS, Rockauto, Amazon and eBay. I ship them to a freight forwarder (shipping is usually free within the US anyway) and then the sellers don’t have to deal with international shipping and I get the rare parts I sorely needed. It’s a win-win. The only issue is with returns, but I haven’t had to return anything. You just have to be extra careful to order exactly what you need.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
27 days ago
Reply to  Eric Gonzalez

Yeah I don’t ship stuff internationally because I don’t want to waste my time going to the post office waiting in line to fill out custom forms but I have shipped quite a few packages to Doral, FL. Somehow a lot of those companies set up shop there.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
26 days ago

I am a happy customer of easyship.com and they make international shipping pretty easy as well as a lot cheaper than going through the shippers directly. You can fill out the customs documents online. Pro tip – if you are shipping something inexpensive but heavy that costs a lot to ship you can save your customers a lot of money by letting them pay the customs. Otherwise they pay customs on the shipping too.

The Stone
The Stone
26 days ago
Reply to  Eric Gonzalez

This is the way. You can do package by package, but I recently bought several things from the UK and had them consolidated for delivery to the US. The serivce I used charges a very reasonably priced subscription and they’ll hold received packages in storage up to 40 days without additional fees. They offer some microservices for fees, such as taking photographs of the received items, repackaging, etc.

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