POAL: Tales of Sales of Parts to Parts Unknown

No matter the definition of “old” and “car”, an old-car hobbyist spends a lot of time, attention, and money on auto parts. It goes with the territory; when most parts aren’t available anymore—or aren’t availble in original quality, or in quality worth having—one must hunt, pounce, forecast, anticipate, stash, and hoard. It’s great sport and/or exasperating reality, depending on one’s perspective, resources, and actual need for whatever part. I bought a staggering amount of auto componentry, new and used, during my time in the hobby. The majority of it I didn’t actually need when I bought it. During and after whipping my mad car disease into remission I also addressed my elevated collectserall; I sold off almost every bit of what-all remained of that staggering number of parts, too, sooner and later—and more besides. Many of them have been unusual, little-known, rare to the point of near-nonexistence, or otherwise interesting—at least to me.

SBEC (ECM), 1991 Mopar AA-body 3.0 V6, European export calibration


My second job was in a print shop the summer I was 16, and I had some business cards done up. “Etcetera Enterprises”, I called myself, and the highly optimistic tagline was All Sorts of Parts for Valiants and Darts (it didn’t have to be completely accurate; it rhymed). Shop manager Wayne liked my newly-bought 1965 D’Valiant and put the card design together for me, centred round a line drawing I shamelessly lifted from somewhere, of a 1961 Valiant. Wayne refused when I asked to set the name and slogan all in small-caps (uppercase letters the size of lowercase ones). I asked why not, and he said “Figure it out”. Took me a minute or three. Uhhh…oh, yeah. I chose a deep grass green ink, but this black-and-white rendition is all that survives:

Here’s an early, pre-card ad from the back pages of the Slant-6 News:

That’s the rickety, pretentious beginning whence things grew…rather out of hand. I’m thankful not quite to be a hoarder, but only just scarcely not; at the depths of things my collection occupied space in Colorado; Michigan; California; Washington; Wisconsin, and Ontario—all at the same time. And all the pictures in this post are of parts I’ve bought and (in most cases) sold. If this seems like a big, spread-out mountain of parts getting in the way all the time…yeah.

Stainless steel fuel filters, methanol-tolerant, for 1993-’95 Spirit/Acclaim FFV

That brief wrecking yard job was really only a minor part of it; my years-longer history of buying parts from that yard, amongst others, and many additional sources besides, all helped build a formidable collection of new and used parts, accessories, literature, and related stuffs.

’61-’62 Valiant-Lancer heater control valve (also fits/works on ’60)

Some of it was just part of keeping a ’62 and a ’65 car in dependable daily service in the ’90s, so routine maintenance and predictable repairs could be done with parts on hand for minimal disruption. But I collected a lot of parts not to meet any immediate or predicted requirement; just, y’know, in case I might need them someday. Or because they were available and affordable and I knew what they were and what someone might buy them for one day; just plain old buy-low/sell-high. Or because they offered such prominent textures and shapes and colours—the glossy blue or tan or black or red bakelite, alkyd, or glass-filled thermoplastic of a distributor cap—that they tickled the vestiges of my early-childhood synæsthesia (and smells! A new set of spark plug wires, can you smell them?). Or because I’d read all about some particular kind of part—its engineering improvements and design changes and feature additions. Or because it was fun to scrutinise, in the actual metal, the detailed evolution in Slant-6 carburetors (…distributors, water pumps, fuel pumps, air cleaners…) over the years. I could’ve put together curated exhibits!

Guess I still can, at that. Here are selected representative Slant-6 carburetors from 1962 to 1979:

1962-’63 Holley 1920


1963 Carter BBS


1967 Carter BBS


1968 Carter BBSs


1970 (California) + ’71 (50-state) Carter BBSs


Aftermarket high-economy Holley 1920 for 1960-’70 cars


Aftermarket high-economy Holley 1920 for 1973 cars


1975-79 Holley 1945

Here I’ve left out the most interesting carburetor; it’ll get its own article.

Eventually, having mostly bought for a lot of years, I had to sell-sell-sell. Here’s a partial view (because you can’t see in the trunk) of one carburetor; six carburetor kits; eight carburetor gaskets…

My beard and pics like this might make people mistake me for the Lord of the Rings.


’67-’75 Slant-6 export 2-barrel carburetor, new…


…in box.

…one intake manifold; one choke thermostat; one electric choke conversion kit…

Slant-6 1960-only aluminum 1-barrel intake modified to take big 2-barrel carburetor


Choke thermostat, ’70-’72 Slant-6


Electric choke conversion kit for ’60-’72 Slant-6

…five sets of key blanks; six sideview mirrors; one accelerator pedal; one speedometer…

It’s mirror madness! Most of these are seldom seen in the Northern Hemisphere.


’72-’76 Dart-Valiant-Duster metric speedometer

…one pair of side marker lights; one distributor vacuum control valve; one box of miscellaneous ’64 Dart parts…

This component will have its own article soon.


…four more carburetor kits; one more distributor vacuum advance control valve; three distributor vacuum advance pods, one gas cap, one Mallory dual-point Slant-6 distributor…

Advanced technology




…Mallory racin’ distributor for Slant-6


all about to head for the nearest U.S. Post Office. it was sort of a –wheelbarrow– laundry basket full of pebbles and stones in context of the overall mountain, but it was a start.

Parts is parts!


Stephen Pellegrino’s onrunning series about Consumer Reports has me in mind of a longstanding feature in the endpages of that publication. “Selling It” is a show-and-tell of advertising and packaging CR considered deceptive, tricky, goofy, thoughtless, or poorly-worded. Well, I guess I’ve got some tales of selling it, too.

About 15 years ago, this highly recommendable book came out. It was launched at one or another SAE function in Detroit, which author Bill Weertman attended to give a talk on the Hemi engine. I also attended, and had put out a call for interest on autographed copies. I bought a dozen or so, and Bill signed ’em for me (at that time the price was much lower). I sent them out to everyone who’d squawked, and about a week later everyone had their copy…except for one dude in Argentina. His copy never arrived, and the post office eventually did their trace, the result of which was ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

A year(!) later, the book arrived back at my address in Seattle, still in the undamaged packaging I’d applied, with stampings and markings and stickers indicating it had enjoyed a prolonged all-expense-paid trip round the world.

A few years after that, I sold a custom-ground Slant-6 camshaft; lifters, and valve springs and stem seals to a Finn. It worked out most economically to send the small parts and the cam in separate boxes, both by Priority Mail Express. They, like the book destined for Argentina, each had a machine-printed address label so there could be no handwriting issue, all customs forms were properly filled out and attached, and a sheet with destination and return addresses was inside the box in case the outer label would be damaged.

Canadian-made bolt-together fuel pump, ’60-’63 Slant-6 (but fits all years)

The small parts arrived in Finland in 7 days, and the camshaft vanished. The post office did their trace and found it had been sent to Ghana (Ghana…Finland…easy mistake). They said they’d have to wait for the Ghanian postal authority to do their own investigation, and they never heard back. Okeh, fine, somewhere in Ghana somebody’s using a custom-ground Slant-6 camshaft as a wicked cricket bat or something.

1960-only, 170-only Slant-6 water pump

Filing for the insurance and collecting it started out routinely enough: USPS sent me their forms № 2855 (insurance claim) and 3533 (postage refund) with instructions to take them to my local post office where the insurance form would be accepted and sent in for processing, and the postage refund would be issued on the spot.

Only that’s not what happened. The counter clerk told me to meet the head clerk at the package pickup, a dutch door (bottom and top halves open separately). The manager came and opened the top half, and I presented the duly completed official USPS forms. He said “What are these?” I briefly explained, and he said “There’s no such thing as a postage refund. Postage is never refunded under any circumstances.” I asked him to please take a look at the cover letter USPS had sent with the forms. He glanced at it and said, “It doesn’t say postage refund.” I said “Please look at the first paragraph, it says file a request for a postage refund by completing the enclosed Form 3533, Application for Refund, which can be used to request disbursement for Priority Mail Express International refunds. This form must be submitted at your local post office. Look at the form; the first checkbox is for postage refund.” He said “No, the form doesn’t say “postage refund”, it says ‘application for refund of fees’. We don’t refund postage. Ever. If you bought insurance on your package, you can file a claim and you might get some money for the lost item, but we DON’T! REFUND!! POSTAGE!!!” and he tried to close the door in my face. My arm on the door ledge stopped him.

Chrysler Saratoga (export Dodge Spirit) sideview mirror

I said “Sir, for god’s sake, please read the letter; it’s right there in black and white.” He responded by threatening to call the cops and have them haul me away for causing a disturbance and raising my voice, which I hadn’t done. I said “I’m not raising my voice or causing a disturbance. Since you won’t honour the form, may I please know your name?” He laughed and said “Dave. Get your arm off the door ledge or I’m calling the police and having you banned from this post office. We’re done here.” I said “Sir, no, we really aren’t. If you haven’t encountered this form before, I understand, but it is a USPS form, and it’s got a USPS cover letter, and I’d like you to please check with whoever you need to check with about it”.

Add-on cruise control kit!

He said “I never heard of it. How many times do I have to tell you? WE DO NOT REFUND POSTAGE EVER. Get your arm off the door ledge NOW.” I said “Alright, Dave, may I please know your last name or your employee number?” He laughed and said “Boy, you must really wanna be dragged outta here in handcuffs. Move your arm if you wanna keep it”. This from the manager of the same post office where before I’d intervened on behalf of a perfectly competent counter clerk being abusively screamed at by this awful woman (I stepped up to her and said excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but I just have to say…you remind me of my mother, which let the air out of her tantrum).

Slant-6 replaceable-elephant oil filter assembly, first design…


…and second design…


…and replacement elephant kit

So I drove 15 minutes to another post office where the counter clerk accepted my forms, issued my postage refund, and advised me on processing time for the insurance payout, which arrived promptly—gosh, I guess Dave was wrong. I had another cam ground, sent it, and it arrived in Finland in 7 days.

Nine months later, the first camshaft landed on my doorstep in fine condition with no explanation, so I sold it again; that time it stayed gone.

Slant-6 thermostat housing/water outlet, used only on 1960 cars with power steering

Bosch idle air control motor/valve for Volvos, VWs, DeLoreans, etc. Never did sell these; they’re still on my shelf.

Now, separately from general parts for specific cars, I’ve been collecting and selling headlamps and other lighting equipment for (too) many years; it’s a bad habit I picked up from someone in Wisconsin. I’m sick to damn death of car lights.

But groceries aren’t free, and it’s always been car lights, and I still haven’t figured out what could come next, so I carry on. “Specialty technical sales” if I wanna be all fancy about it, though that’s really what it is. There’s a lot of routine, boring order processing, but aside from that there’s a lot of special knowledge required for when a standard off-the-shelf part won’t do, or for off-label combinations of parts no cattledog will suggest. Y’wanna have headlamps that look like this and actually let you see well at night in your ’53 Rolls-Royce? Go see Dan; go see Dan, go see Dan! Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:

Licence plate refers to Dawn. Get it?

There’s been a great deal of collecting involved with this particular strain of »checks notes« specialty technical sales. It has its enjoyable aspects—I could do a show-and-tell on the evolutionary and commercial history of the sealed-beam headlamp, with authentic examples— but it makes me wish my thing were…I donno…birdwatching or whatever; the kind of thing that requires only binoculars and a tablet to take notes on. But noooooooo, it has to be headlamps. Bulky, fragile, supernumerous headlamps:

I still have most of these…


…and these.

In September 2018 I had a customer, a Westerner in Thailand who was rebuilding and upgrading an old Mercedes W123 car with the best of everything. He was starting with used-up, broken European composite headlamps, which weren’t very good even as new genuine parts and now can only be had as poorly-made off-brand imitations. I sold him the top-of-the-heap headlamp system he wanted: U.S.-spec modular fixtures with premium type-approved LED headlamps for use in Thailand’s left-hand traffic and integral daytime running lights, custom-built wiring harness, etc.

That was something like four kilodollars’ worth of parts in three large boxes; far more money than most orders I fill. He didn’t flinch at the big price tag, but insisted the shipment be declared for not more than $300, otherwise he’d get taxed on it. I explained how underdeclaring meant if anything went wrong; if one or more of the boxes got lost or stolen or damaged he’d be outta luck for most of his money. He swore up and down he’d never had a problem, boxes always arrive in perfect condition, this is just the way it works in Thailand, everyone does it this way, etc. Okeh, you’re the fully-informed boss! Parts distributed amongst three carefully-packed boxes, machine-printed address labels inside and out, customs forms completed and properly attached, etc.

Legitimate LED sealed beams that don’t suck…we live in the future!

One of the boxes went missing, because of course it did. It vanished from radar very shortly after its origin scan. National US Postal Service people initiated their traces. Local US Postal Service people tried their best, too (benefit of small towns like the one whence these boxes were sent). Nope, gone. Vanished without a trace. And it was the box, because of course it was, that happened to contain the NOS no-longer-made Mercedes parts, not the readily-replaceable current-production LED headlamps.

Groan. I put in for the minimal insurance, got it, and scrounged up a good used set of the brackets and a set of aftermarket faceplates (no more NOS), boxed them up, declared and insured them properly at full value (with the sheepish agreement of the customer), charged him for the replacement parts less the piddly insurance payout, and sent ’em off. They arrived in his hands 8 days later. And eight months later, he pinged me to advise the missing box from the original shipment had just appeared on his doorstep! Alright, I guess he’s got spares. I would like to have seen pictures of his finished car.

In May or June 2020, amidst the pandemic’s awful first wave, I had an inquiry from an Australian living in the Netherlands and working in Saudi Arabia. He had a very nice early-’70s BMW 2002 with original headlamps in badly degraded condition. Wanted much better seeing at night, better than could be had with his original European headlamps restored to perfection.

These are better than the Cibies or Hellas, and I like being married to a photographer.

From 1940 to 1983 all vehicles sold in the U.S. had to use sealed beam headlamps of specified size and shape. The standard size and large installed base (many vehicles over many years) means there are now headlamps available in those old standard sizes but with up-to-date technology and performance, for drop-in upgrades on older vehicles. Even if we ignore the giant amount of fraudulent junk, there’s actually never been a better time to be in the market for good headlamps in the old sealed beam sizes. No such standard-lamps law existed elsewhere in the world, so whatever the car came with is what it’s stuck with forever. The solution for this guy’s Bimmer, as for the Mercedes in Thailand, would be to install the U.S. headlamp mount-aim fixtures and put in some up-to-date standard-size headlamps.

I explained all of this to the customer, and he was onside. I could provide the headlamps and hookup components, but not the fixtures. I spotted a set of the fixtures on Fleabay, new-never-used, and pointed him at them, figuring I’d do him a good deed rather than pouncing on the auction just to turn around and mark the items up. The seller wouldn’t ship outside the States, and there were a few ancillary items he wanted for the install from Amazon, so I did another good deed: I agreed to receive the eBay and Amazon items, consolidate all the parts, and send them all to him in one box.

That’s not the only time I’ve done this same good deed. I’ve had it work out perfectly well for some customers deeply grateful for my logistical assistance, but things were a little rockier with a crazy dude in Switzerland who needed a bunch of parts to restore his ’89 Chrysler Voyager, and that sort of went sideways, too. Remember what they say about good deeds? Memo to self: stop doing that!

I sold this ported, polished, powder-coated, desirable 2-piece Chrysler 2.2/2.5 turbo intake for too low a price.

By and by, everything was in hand: new U.S. fixtures, the good headlamps, the hookup components, assorted other items. The box got sent out about 10 June from Michigan, and I sent the customer the tracking number. The next day came his first email demanding to know why he hadn’t received the package and what I’m doing about it. I gently reminded him that transport takes time.

On 16 June, USPS tracking info said Departed Chicago international facility en route to destination. The tracking info stopped changing at that point; it stayed the same for days and weeks. That happens sometimes, even when everything’s running normally (no pandemics or deliberate legislative attempts to destroy the US Postal Service, etc).

I calmly informed the customer every time he wrote—which was often—that I would do and was doing everything possible to figure out what’s up and get the situation straightened out as necessary. Again and again I patiently explained that the Postal Service has a certain number of days that must elapse before they will initiate an investigation, and that I would be opening an investigation as soon as possible. He kept on writing back and accusing me of dragging my feet and doing nothing, etc.

Dutra rear-3 exhaust manifold, Slant-6, custom-modified to eliminate intake manifold heat. I was going to pair this with a triple-SU intake, which I also sold instead.

The first day the USPS would open an inquiry, I did so, then immediately wrote to the customer to share the info with him: USPS will do their own investigation to see if the package can be found here, see if there’s evidence it might have left the US without getting the scan it was supposed to get, etc. They’ll also notify the postal people in the destination country of the Netherlands who will do their own investigation. All of this will take not less than 33 days. If the package is found during the investigation, it will be sent along to the addressee (that’s him!). If not, then it’ll come time to fill out insurance claim forms, etc.

Customer accused me of stealing his money and his parts. Made weird and unrealistic demands, phrased in ways that made me feel less coöperative: I shouldn’t have to wait! You know the right thing to do is to refund me in full and then if the parcel is found and reaches me I’ll send it back to you as I no longer have any desire to receive a parcel from you, but of course you won’t do the right thing!

I kept about 98 per cent of my cool and informed him that we’d be doing this by the book: we’d let the postal services do their investigations and go forward from there. I reminded him, as the USPS rep reminded me, that everything was taking longer than usual on account of Covid, and some usually-air shipments were going by sea instead, etc.

In return I got more vitriolic bilge, and a new accusation that I was using Covid as a dumb excuse. So I was down to about 97 per cent of my cool; I told him “With all due respect: don’t be an arsehole. Breathe. Be patient. Be grateful for life’s gifts. Understand that this will get resolved, just not as quickly as either of us would like.”

Front-3 Slant-6 exhaust manifold from Argentine R/T package; this never got around to going with the Dutra rear-3 and the triple-SU intake on my ’62 Lancer

He came back with Arsehole, really!! Wow, a new low of customer service from you. Well done, showing your true self and level of business acumen. I’ll be sharing your email with every single person I know in the classic car world. No need to contact me again by email, I look forward to meeting you in person.

So this was some kind of silly…threat? He’s gonna what, hop on a plane, fly over the ocean, declare his travel essential to bust through the Covid border closure, find me, and give me what-for?

(Every once in awhile over the decades I’ve been slinging headlamps, I’ve had some dillweed threaten to tell everyone to avoid me because I won’t sell them blue headlight bulbs or HID kits or bogus LEDs, won’t provide components I know will be used with an unsafe lighting system, etc. I encourage them to please do so, because it keeps away timewasters and brings a nice flurry of BS-avoidant people. If any such smear campaigns have been tried, they haven’t worked; as I’ve already complained, I’m still slinging headlamps.)

Idler arm ball bearing conversion kit, ’62-’67 Chrysler products

That brings us to 7 August. On 8 August I got the news from USPS that the parcel had been delivered. Not lost, or stolen, or strayed; it just took some extra time because pandemic.

So I sent customer “Well, lookit there—success! All that took was some extra patience; your parcel was delivered today. Enjoy. Drive safely. Smile! (And maybe work on being a little less quick to assume bad faith, eh?) Cheers!”

He didn’t try to undo his payment or anything, so I assume onehow or another he wound up happy with the contents of the box. Never did hear from him again.

Heavy-duty adjustable voltage regulator, ’66-’69 Chrysler products (works on ’60-’69)

Around the same time, another customer came requesting some of my specialty technical knowledge. Dude was building a custom motorcycle, and contacted me at great length by email, and eventually at greater length by phone. He wanted a good headlamp that would look a particular way when lit and unlit, and provide excellent low and high beam performance. No off-the-shelf standard parts would meet this need, but a combination of existent parts, make-to-order parts, and some skilled work by a specialist in Germany would create exactly what he wanted.

We all live in a yellow H13…yellow H13…yellow H13…!

Rather than subcontract the German specialist, I would sell Customer the correct lamp and bulbs, and point him at the German specialist. I had the bulbs made and sent to him, sent the lamp to Germany, and sent an email to Customer and Specialist introducing them to each other and making it clear that the next phase of the project, modifying the lamp, was between the two of them. Fine, everyone seemed to understand and agree.

This was still early-mid pandemic, and postal services all over the world were still taking longer than usual; by and by the customer became convinced the lamp had been lost on its way to Germany. I wasn’t so convinced, but—eh!—in the name of good service, I sent out another. It arrived at the German specialist’s shop not long after the first one.

Road draft tube, ’60-’62 225 Slant-6 without PCV

Specialist did their usual highly craftsmanlike work on the first lamp and invoiced the customer for that work and return postage…and that’s when things went wrong. Customer threw a big American temper tantrum at both me and Specialist (grammar and syntax is customer’s own):

The invoice is all german and said us 144.87 so I sent that promptly then during the night they want more money my whole project was delayed because of this for months and then this money thing i blew a gasket and just decided to stop shelling out money now I have three bulbs I might as well throw away, out about 400 dollars, months of waiting i’m so pushed I don’t wish to even discuss it​!

i got taken for a ride and will never make the mistake again​ i’m done with your service the numbers do not match and will not argue about this further​ i have already spent about 400 US dollars and waited for three months now my whole project has gone from being completed this year to next year and fouled me up so you can collect your money from [firstname lastname] and he can have back this precious housing.

not only this nonsense but i in good faith bought three bulbs at a cost of a little over 90 dollars is so i will have to put those on e bay to try to recover part of what I have spent this was a big lesson for me and that lesson is, not to allow someone like [firstname lastname] get involved with my project next time I will find my own parts and company in the USA to do any work needed.

i lost 400 dollars and that is a lesson I will not forget!

Alrighty, then! I sent email to Specialist:

Hi, [Specialist].

I have received a semi-coherent tantrum in an email from [Customer]. He seems to be upset over what he thinks are unreasonable extra costs related to his headlamp. I asked him for clarification, but he said he’s too upset to talk about it (which seems silly and melodramatic to me).

I apologise for having sent you a troublesome customer—he seemed reasonable at first, to me; if I had thought he would make a nuisance of himself, I would not have inflicted him upon you.

Keep well,


Specialist replied:


The package can go out, the difference is still missing: €28,21. This is the bilingual invoice we sent [Customer]:

Neuverspiegelung Reflektor im Kadmiumgelb/Resilvering Reflector in yellow:
64,65 € (without VAT)
Glas demontieren und verkleben/Lens removal and installation with adhesive:
30,20 € (without VAT)
Versandkosten USA oder Kanada/shipping cost USA & Canada:
49,99 €

So I, knowing there was little point, nevertheless sent this to Customer:

Hi, [Customer].

[Specialist] just sent me a copy of the invoice they sent you, and I gave it a careful look.

It is bilingual, in German and in English. It is also in Euros, not in US Dollars (which makes sense, given that they’re in Europe). They didn’t invoice you for 144.84 US Dollars, they invoiced you for 144.84 Euros. The Euro symbol € appears next to each amount on the invoice.

The “extra” money they asked you for wasn’t some kind of a scam, it was because you misread the invoice as calling for a Dollar total rather than a Euro total.

So, you made a mistake. Not me, not them. Which is fine, it happens; we’re all human and we all make mistakes. The thing to do is go “Oh oops, yeah” and fix it; no harm/no foul.

Looks to me like your custom lamp—exactly to your specifications—is done and ready and waiting, and you’ve got the bulbs for it, and you could have it in hand just as quickly as the world’s postal services can get it to you these days.

All you have to do is go “Oh, oops, yeah” and fix the error.

Keep well,


No reply, so—probably because I felt he deserved another blood pressure spike (when you’re self-employed the boss is a damn jerk who watches you every moment but can’t fire you, but one perq is you don’t get hauled into HR and written up)—I called Customer on the phone. As soon as I identified myself, he began emitting showers of sparks: “I’m DONE with the headlamp! I’m out $400 and they demanded more money for no reason! It’s a scam! I’m DONE! GoodBYE!” and hung up.

So I sent him this final message:

I was going to offer you a refund, but you hung up, so I’m left to conclude you’re more interested in being pissed off than in being served. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

No reply, of course. Seriously, I would’ve accepted the bulbs back for a full refund, and/or worked with him to arrive at some other satisfactory arrangement, if he really didn’t want to remit the twenty-five whole, entire dollars owing to Specialist. Oh well, he got to feel he’s right about being wronged, and that was the main thing. I sent €28.21 to Specialist, and the lamp and bulbs are on my shelf.


Choke thermostat, 1973 Slant-6

So those are some of my stories from my decades at the obscure speciality fringes of the auto parts trade. Sometimes I’ve been a winner; when I was a teenager Fram sent me, free of charge, about 300 metal ’61-’69 Chrysler-product PCV valve, OE items made by Stanadyne, when I squawked by mail after noticing that item had been dropped from the new year’s cattledog. They even paid for the shipping.

Sometimes I was several rows back from the winner’s circle; I stored that collection of PCV valves for years and then sold the majority of them in one go to an old-Mopar parts house for something like $2.73 apiece; they then sold them in a hurry for something like $39.95 each. Oops! Sometimes I was able to help out the community I was part of at the time; I found an Australian source of good fuel caps for ’60-’66 Valiant-Dart-Lancer-Barracuda cars and imported a big bunch of them. Made a lot of car owners happy, but getting hold of the caps was something of a hassle and I didn’t do it again.

New real OE turn signal switches for ’62-’69 Chrysler products have been a more enduringly good experience; I’ve sold about six hundred of those over the last 12 years, and counting…

…just by word of mouth; I don’t advertise, not even for the lighting stuff. I never have, except for those early business cards, not set in all-caps.

So there you have it: how I’ve moulded and channeled a weird fascination with car parts and fixation with car lights into food in the fridge and paid bills.

5-button HVAC switch, numerous Chrysler products ’60s-’80s