Like A Kid In A Candy Store. It’s an apt description of how I feel every time I enter places like this. I may be a tired adult instead of a hyperactive child, and the treats may be made of chrome and plastic rather than chocolate and butterscotch, but the overall feeling is the same.
For over two decades, Original Parts Group has been a premier supplier of factory-licensed OEM replacement parts and accessories for General Motors A-body vehicles. Prior to that, they used to be called Ausley’s.
The story behind OPG and its indirect crosstown rival, Classic Industries, is an interesting one. The two stores are owned by siblings. In a gentleman’s agreement, the two businesses handle entirely different model lines to avoid cannibalizing each other’s business. Original Parts Group handles all the GM A-body stuff as well as GM’s specialty personal luxury vehicles, including the Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Riviera, and Eldorado. They also take care of 54-76 full sized Cadillacs and the 62-64 Pontiac Catalina. In more recent years, they’ve added the 78-88 G-body to their inventory.
By contrast, Classic Industries services the GM B-body, F-body, and X-body crowd, as well as C/K trucks. More recently, they’ve branched out into the Tri-Five market. They now even have a huge selection of vintage Mopar goodies.
As you can see, Original supplies every bit of A / G body minutae that one can think of. Which is exactly why myself and my good buddy, also named Chris, were there on a cool and breezy Monday afternoon a few weeks back. Chris was picking up a sheetmetal patch panel for his ’67 Chevelle–a car that’s been in his family since he was born. I was there picking up some odds and ends for my 1971 GMC Sprint. As many here will recall, my ’71 Sprint was the subject of my very first CC article. After letting it languish for nearly two years, the expensive storage fees (as well as a good-natured kick in the backside from Paul over my project malaise), finally spurred me to start working on it again.
The first thing to catch my eye was this trio of A-beauties crammed into the far corner of OPG’s showroom. All these cars have been featured as OPG catalog cover models at one time. Together, they symbolize some of GM’s best years before the EPA, OPEC and GM’s own dysfunctional upper management brought it all crashing down. That’s my pal Chris drooling over the black ragtop.
This gorgeous black ’65 Malibu convertible is a more recent addition to OPG’s fleet of model and display vehicles, all lovingly restored using the company’s parts exclusively. From what I understand, ALL the cars featured in OPG catalogs are privately owned by the company’s owner. What a lucky dude.
The car’s original 327 has been completely rebuilt from top to bottom. In many quarters, the 327 is considered to be Chevy’s best small-block ever, with an ideal rod-to-stroke ratio. With the fuel-injected Corvette version pumping out 375 horses, the 327 was truly The Mouse That Roared. This one appears to be the standard four-barrel version. It may not be the pavement-scorching monster that its fuelie and big-block siblings are, but it has more than enough oomph for most folks and is sure to provide plenty of smiles per gallon to its owner.
The open roof and spacious interior just beg for 3-4 friends, a Friday night on Hollywood Boulevard, a Saturday afternoon cruise through downtown Santa Monica, and a Sunday morning on Pacific Coast Highway.
A better shot of the car’s interior, looking as immaculate as the outside. A hot summer day with the top down, while wearing shorts, has gotta be interesting.
This green ’66 SS is an all original, matching-numbers ride that’s been restored down to the last nut and bolt. It’s also a seasoned veteran of OPG’s show fleet. In the break room at work, I have an old OPG catalog from 06-07 with this exact car on the cover. I wasn’t able to get any shots of the engine, but I’ve seen this car in person in past visits, and the original L78 396 big block is very much present and accounted for.
The ’66’s interior, complete with the goofy and essentially useless console-mounted tach. What sane, sensible person would actually take their eyes off the pavement to look at that thing- especially when the car was storming down a quarter-mile track or deserted service road, as their owners frequently called on them to do? The complicated center control panel under the radio seems to indicate that this is an air-conditioned car. One might also notice the power window switches and automatic shifter. Many hardcore purists may grumble about the extra goodies, but not me. Nothing wrong with having a little luxury to go with your muscle.
Where the ’65 looks ready for a cruise to the beach, this ’66 looks ready to attack the local drag strip. Martha! Put away yer floppy hat an’ sunglasses an’ grab yer helmet-we’re goin’ racin’!
We conclude our outing with this mint 1972, 454-powered droptop. By 1972, the Rat’s edge was dulled considerably thanks to the drastically lowered compression ratios and retarded cam timing necessary to ensure its survival in the emissions-conscious Seventies. Nevertheless, even this somewhat lazy rat still had enough grunt to entertain most folks and cook the tires with little effort. Unfortunately, the lower horsepower ratings made it no less thirsty than its tire-shredding older siblings.
The heart of the beast, complete with factory cowl induction. 1972 was getting pretty close to the end for factory big-block Chevelles. After 1974, the venerable 454 would be banished forever from all of GM’s passenger cars save the massive B-bodies. In 1972 there was still some fun to be had, but the party was quickly winding down.
Despite the obvious cheapening over past years, the interior of this Chevelle still looks like a comfy and inviting place to sit for long stretches–as long as it’s not 90 degrees outside. Especially with no A/C. Still, I certainly wouldn’t kick it out of my dream garage.
A shiny big-block convertible, an open road, and the people closest to you along for the ride. What more could you ask for?
Anyone can duplicate the show cars’ mint interiors, thanks to OPG’s generous parts selection. Almost everything displayed here is for Chevelles, except for the instrument bezel at the very top. Can anyone guess what that piece fits?
More interior stuff. My Sprint needs these badly.
Tired of your crappy stock brakes? These upgrade kits give you the whoa to match your go.
Even more interior goodies.
Catalogs galore. If OPG doesn’t have it, nobody does.
All in all, it was a fun visit. Every time we go in there, there’s always something new and different. I have even more pics from a previous visit saved on my old flip phone. Once I get the chance, I’ll download those and post a second installment. There’s some other neat rides I’ve taken pics of, including a ’69 Buick Skylark GS 350 and a rare ’64 Cadillac “Eldorado” Coupe, a coupe especially ordered with full-on Eldorado trim. Stay tuned…