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Cheap to Upkeep? Maybe Not
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Posted On: 3/14/2011 7:06AM
HotRodHoney

One of the main benefits which led to the decision to purchase my '79 Malibu was that it would be easy to upkeep: simple motor, no electronics, etc. And I figured it would be easy to find such common placeparts. However, with certain parts I run into a dead end. For example, it seems to be next to impossible to find side markers lens for either side of my poor girl.  

I have checked numerous parts stores, craigslist, online stores, and even junkyards (as you may recall following in my Adventures in a Junkyard blog). Try as I may, I either find side marker lens for a 1980 Malibu (which does NOT fit my '79) or I find one ridiculously overpriced (come on, it's a little piece of plastic!).

There were a few listed on eBay that didn't look to be quite the right ones. But the ones that appeared to be an exact fit? $200 for one! Unfortunately it seems that I will either spend an arm and a leg or go without... which will only work until the yearly inspection because she won't pass with busted lenses.

I also looked into replacing the carb and was shocked to discover that a stock unit would cost well over $200!  I'd almost be better off replacing it with a performance 4 barrel!  Even rebuilt carbs were almost as expensive! I had no idea 2 barrels were that ...rare? When did simple, older GM parts get so pricey? I started to think I've been living under a rock all these years. 

I tried to find a dome lens cover for the interior dome light (after Dave hit it and broke it...thanks Dave). Once again, this was not an easily located item and I ended up going through a website based in South Carolina. Those guys seemed to have anything and everything one might need for an older GM, except--you guessed it--side marker lenses.

There were a few listed on eBay that didn't look to be quite the right ones. But the ones that appeared to be an exact fit? $200 for one! Unfortunately it seems that I will either spend an arm and a leg or go without... which will only work until the yearly inspection because she won't pass with busted lenses.

Well, so much for parts being easy to find. What do you think?  Are certain parts getting harder to find, or am I just looking in the wrong places?

Comments (7)
Avatar By: Medazzone
3/14/2011 7:34 AM

At some point cars from the 70's got a reputation for being reliable. I'm not sure how this was as many from the era were not and even the ones that were (by comparison) are going to cost the owner a mint to upkeep now if used as a DD for the simple reason you can't find parts easily and if you do you're overpaying. If I saw your great looking very basic car for sale my first thought would of been that it would be an inexpensive car to own and maintain. Nostalgia comes at a price I suppose. I hope you can get your car in order, hopefully won't cost you too much more for a while. I've always liked that generation of Malibu. Very nice.

 
Avatar By: cknarf
3/14/2011 8:41 AM

Essential mechanical parts will be easy. Body parts, trim, and lights are always much harder items to find!

 
Avatar By: ___nes___
3/14/2011 11:37 AM

I'm going through the same problem and I know what you mean. I was looking for the top of my dashboard and I couldn't find it anywhere but when I did, I found it for $350 for a cover NOT the complete dash but a plastic cover. Good luck finding the side marker.

 
Avatar By: yellowfever04
3/14/2011 1:00 PM

You should try pricing out parts for a 2004-2006 GTO. *gag*

 
Avatar By: SuzyBruisy
3/14/2011 4:06 PM

Steph: unique pieces that they don't make anymore, like trim, body panels, and lenses, are definitely going to be hard to come by and a little pricey, but it's more than made up for by the savings you get on run-of-the-mill parts for an older domestic: try finding anyone with a car built in the last 5 years who can buy a 25-dollar tie rod or a 30-dollar pair of brake rotors for their ride! If you're having trouble finding a particularly obscure part, try www.car-part.com, which cross-searches the online inventories of junkyards nationwide. I ran a quick search there for your part and it looks like there's dozens of them available for 25 bucks and up, and the site lists the individual junkyards' phone numbers so you can call and confirm what you're getting before you order. Also, 200 bucks isn't actually bad at all for an OEM carb, but make sure you're not getting one of those junk Tomco-or-similar remans. You can literally order a six-pack of those and ONE of them will work the way it should if you're lucky. You're better off getting a 15-dollar carb rebuild kit and rebuilding the thing yourself: don't be intimidated, it's easier than you'd think.

 
Avatar By: usnrocker
3/14/2011 5:03 PM

i love how cheap my C10 is to maintain... i paid 60 bucks for a new rear end, 10 bucks for a sway bar... i think so far the most expensive thing on the truck is the paint in my garage and thats 70 bucks...

 
Avatar By: bulldog_1995
3/14/2011 6:28 PM

I know how you feel I had to replace my clutch on my 66 Econoline and it seams that the aftermarket manufacturers(sp) think that no one drives the 240ci I-6 anymore so they seam to have quit making clutch parts far them I had to have the disk relined so I can drive it again but the body parts are very difficult to find even used

 

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