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Does “gifting” rather than “selling” antique car parts create a dilemma of its own sort.

Jack Bennett

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When I bought my 2nd antique car, a 1923 DB roadster basket case, I was also offered another car hauler trailer load of chassis, body, engine and power train parts for DB vehicles ranging in age from 1922 to 1925.

The place the Dodge was stored was the garage of a huge house, which had been sold as a estate, and the (deceased) owners son told me that the parts would be scrapped if I chose not to take them.

I had already paid the operator of a commercially operated truck and trailer to move the car, and he said he would include moving the load of parts at no extra charge.

So, over the next few months, after I had sorted out the parts I knew fit the 1923, I began separating the other parts and tagging them as being spares.

After the first year I had done about as much to the 1923, in a mechanical, electrical and structural sense, and had made up my mind I was tired of moving around tons of old car body parts, clutches, steering gears and transmissions.

I have, will not now, nor have I ever sold anything since I was seven or eight years old and sold Clover Leaf Salve. 
Now I had nearly four complete vehicles, consisting of parts which appeared to be newer or recently renewed, and I needed to remove them from my personal asset inventory.

Naturally, it was only expected for me to return these parts to other old car fans who may have stalled projects while they searched similar parts out.

So I put a ad on Craigslist offering the truck load of parts, which included Sixteen new clutch disks and three complete timing chains, offering them free to anyone willing to pick them up.

Within the next 15 minutes I had a fellow, driving a old pickup with a older camper shell, back up to my back gate.

Surprised, but pleased in the rapid response to the ad I went to the gate and inquired if the fellow was there for the antique car parts.

He informed me that he wanted the parts……all the parts…….and didn’t break his movement toward the parts when I told him I had four hoods, at least three sets of fender braces and a couple of radiator shrouds for, what appeared to be, the same model car.

He loaded the parts, the last pieces extending the rough the open canopy door, thanked me, and left.

Since that time I have acquired a few more basket case projects, and in each case I ended up with parts which neither fit the project or were surplus to its completion.

These parts too I put on Facebook marketing or Craigslist as free offers, and none of the ads ever stayed up for more than a day.

My most recent, and presently ongoing project is generating the need for me to return some of the parts I got with the 1929 Fargo Express panel to those who can use them. These items, if considered “a engine” may be too much to justify shipping, but if a water pump, distributor, carburetor or manifold is needed, and as I have found, are simply unobtainable, getting on for free, even if paying postage is required, can’t be a bad deal.

That is unless you depend on a on-line store to sell the same parts for “unobtainable”, “rare” “scarce”, “antique” or “collectible” prices, and depend on the jacked up “handling” charges to take care of shortfalls in product pricing.

That said, I am having thoughts that, while “gifting” of old car parts may be welcomed among those actually involved in the antique car restoration hobby, it may be considered as a unwelcome intrusion into a very specialized business by a well meaning numb skull.

Of course, it is not beyond consideration that the winner of the first place in line for “free” parts may NOT be the guy like me who refuses to pay $1295.00 for a old Dodge steering wheel. Rather, I must now deduce that the first person in line for “free” antique car parts may actually be the guy hoping to score a old Dodge steering wheel to sell to me for a scalping price of $1295.00.

Just thinking………….pro and anti comments are welcome.

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The random guy rolling up and taking the lot is most likely an "entrepreneur" who is hoping to on sell at crazy prices. I seldom charge for parts if I know that the person seeking them has a genuine need or interest other than in a $ value. The only parts I sell are those that I have invested time and money into refurbishing and again - only to someone other than a random. I regularly get "gifted" starters and generators by people I do rewinds for as they know I will either use the parts if incomplete or assemble a good working unit or 2 from them for offering as exchange. 


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It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you just want them gone, who cares where they go? To a flipper? A scrapper? To a guy who needs the almost unobtainable parts? As long as they leave a vacant space in your garage, it's all the same.

But on the other hand, if you care that they don't get scrapped, then you need to vet the receivers to weed out the scrappers. More effort. And if you don't want anyone to profit off the parts, way more effort to weed out the flippers and they may never all go away.


I think you are doing right. Give them to whoever will come and get them.

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Most likely those parts went in the scrap bin an hour later and the collector got $50 bucks for the load.


My experience is when I give anything away for nothing I can expect the same thanks and gratitude - none. If I happen to need something the recipient has, I can expect him to charge me full price, and that includes if I need something back that I gave him.


There are exceptions but they are rare, like one in a thousand.

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Scrap heapwas the first thought that came to my mind.


I think giving the stuff to other collectors in the hobby is a great idea. If you’re just giving it to somebody random, you really don’t know what happened to the parts or if they are still in circulation.


on a related note, giving cars to friends in your estate plans seems to be a growing trend.

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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Please check first with the local car clubs, they will in all likelihood direct you to someone who needs them or wants to save them. (I've acquired several loads of Model T parts through this sort of networking.) If that doesn't work, then put them out for random scrap collectors; you can at least say you tried. This is just free advice.

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I recently gave away a perfectly good, running, camelback drill press. I did not want to see it scrapped but didn't have room to keep it. My solution was to put it up on the Practical Machinist Antique Machinery forum. It was gone in two days and I made a new friend as well. If it hadn't been spoken for I would have put it on Craig's List for a price just above scrap value...which isn't much since it only weighed about 300 lbs but it would have weeded out the scrappers. As far as car parts are  concerned, I have no problem giving away things I'm sure I won't need and that includes things I've paid for but I only do it with people I feel I know, usually through this or another forum.

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Who you “ gift “ to is your business.


Reading thru your post - having

everything taken away by the

guy with the truck & camper

was clearly supplying someone

who cleared out your inventory 

for resale.


If your desire is to “ gift “

directly to users then 

you probably need to 

make a few swap meet trips.



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