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Can a Guy Buy a Trunk Seal?


ol' yeller

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This raises an issue that has been nagging me for a while. There are companies that make reproduction application specific weather strip for "classics" (think 57 Chevy for example). Now, I realize that the Reatta parts market is probably minimal for something like weather stripping, but what is involved in getting something like this done?

Obviously there is tooling cost to get the molds made up, but I have to wonder what the minimum up-front order would be to get new weather stripping made. This is going to be a more pressing issue as time goes on, as the original stripping will continue to deteriorate. At some point, we are going to be out of luck if new rubber can't be sourced somehow.

If someone like Reattadudes (I mention them because they are a known, reputable source for parts and would be a logical single point of contact) could coordinate this, and get a required commitment for the minimum number of pieces paid up front by enough people, it might be doable.

In looking at their site, I see they do convertible tops and replacement leather, though these are probably one-offs made to order unless their volume is high enough to have stock on hand. Obviously, I don't know their business situation and certainly don't intend to speak for them so this is just my rambling, and should be taken as such.

Any thoughts on the feasibility of this?

KDirk

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Kevin,

you raise some interesting questions.

first, our leather packages are made to order, as there are so many different combinations. a lot of our customers select custom options, like full leather (no vinyl anywhere) or ultrasuede/leather combinations. this would be very hard to have on a shelf, premade.

the company that makes our tops had a pattern already; we just added three important changes, and have an exclusive on them. they are also made to order, as there are many fabric and color choices. both of the items are relatively easy to create, once you have really great suppliers.

the other items are a problem for several reasons. let's look at the top gaskets around the side windows of a Reatta convertible. there are six pieces in all, and the rubber itself is bonded to a metal backing plate that screws into the top frame.

I've taken or sent these six pieces to three different rubber companies. they all said that the best method would be to offer a complete set, including the metal backing plates. just to get the inital R&D started (from the cheapest company) was over $40,000. and that 40K wouldn't have really produced a single set.

using an estimated vehicle population of 2,000 convertibles, the cost (not including the R&D costs) would run about $800 per car. this would be our cost, not what we would sell them for; this would not include the amortization of the R&D costs. at this time, it's really cost prohibitive. as the value of Reattas increase, we estimate that within five years this project will be viable.

all those gaskets for Chevys are very available because there are so many cars still out there, and many owners think nothing of dropping $50K-$100K for a restoration. so far in the last year, we've only had eight customers spend $20K-$40K (each) on their professional Reatta restorations, so we have quite a ways to go.

we plan on having an excellent reproduction trunk gasket available in the next six months. this is much cheaper to manufacture than the top gaskets. every Reatta uses the same trunk gasket, and the vehicle population of over 18,000 will support and spread the R&D and production costs.

we have targeted about ten items that we feel will be necessary to reproduce in the future, and we will be working on these.

Mike

buickreattaparts.com

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Mike,

Nice to know that you are a step (or several) ahead of me on this. I am disappointed, but certainly not shocked, to see that the initial tooling cost is that high. The door weatherstripping on the Reatta is amongst the most complicated that I have personally dealt with based on the number of pieces and unusual mounting involved. At least someone with the requisite knowledge and connections has looked at this already, and I appreciate your providing your findings here.

I'm also very glad to hear you are planning a repro trunk seal. These seem to be easily damaged, so the need for replacement is probably greater than the other pieces at this point in time.

In any case, I will keep an eye out for your new product offerings.

KDirk

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