Part 1 – eBay
An important part of building a hot rod, street rod, custom car, or rat rod, is the ability to find parts. Finding a good deal on parts is always important. Well where do you start? You could always keep an eye out in your local newspaper and you never know what you can find. Finding parts is getting easier to do now and with the popularity of the internet. There are all kinds of sites on the internet that specialize with selling new and used parts. You can actual build a hot rod by simply ordering everything you need over the internet.
One place to go is eBay. I personally have bought many parts this way. There will be always be a multitude of parts available, both new and used available on eBay. Keep in mind when buying, that there might be a foreign exchange in currency, and shipping/handling charges. Often, if you are importing parts, taxes and brokerage fees should be considered as an added cost to the item.
I can remember early on in my career with buying parts on eBay, I bought a set of automotive VDO gauges that I thought would work good in one of my projects. I bought the part for under $30 USD. Shipping was about $15 USD. When the item arrived at the door, FedEx wanted another $35 CAD for taxes and a brokerage fee. If I didn’t pay it, I was not getting the part. I felt ripped off. FedEx claims this is a fee so they can forward the taxes on the item to the government. So, the good deal I thought I was getting was no deal at all. The lesson I learned from this is that I do not order anything from outside of Canada unless the sellers will ship the item via the postal system. About 50% of the time, items arrive at that door without any extra fees. Many items have to be picked up at the post office or postal outlet, and I only need to pay the taxes on the declared value of the item. That seems fair to me.
When you have decided to bid on an item, do not bid too early. Doing this just increases the price of the item unnecessarily. Sellers on eBay like this. Decide before you make your bid what the item is worth to you and do not cross that line. This prevents you from over bidding. Remember, bidding has nothing to do with being macho and being out done by an opponent. Auctions count on this. Bid as close to the auction closing time as possible. Many bidders wait to do this. This prevents bidding wars between opponents. I often wait till the last 60 seconds of the auction closing time to make a bid. At that point in time I make one bid only. I make a bid on the item with a price that I feel is appropriate for the item. The odd time I loose, but most often win the item. Many bidders will fool around by only increasing the item price by the minimum amount set by eBay and does not work so close to the auction closing time.
Always make sure what your shipping costs will be. If the seller does not offer shipping through the post office, ask before bid to see if they will ship via the post office. Most often they will. Do a bit of research on the items you want before you bid. I always look at the similar items to see what they have been sold for under the completed sales section of the eBay search.
Last of all, make sure you are buying from a reputable seller. Look at their eBay rating and feedback ratings to see if there will be any problems. I have seen many times fake listings. For example, there might be a 1963 Corvette in mint condition up for auction with a “Buy it Now” price of $6000 USD. First ask yourself if this even makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense, do not bid. Often these types of listings occur using a high-jacked eBay account and the item does not really exist. If you ask any questions about the car, you will get responses like: the car is in storage in some foreign country and will be shipped to your port of destination for you to pick up once payment is received and confirmed. Many times the seller will want you to pay using Western Union, bank wire transfer, etc…. If a deal is too good to be true, it most likely it is. I’m not saying there are not any good deals to be found on eBay, but it is BUYER BEWARE and common sense must prevail.