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Restoring a Classic Car? Head Down the Information Superhighway

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Link-Up Digital

Chuck Berry was crooning about having “no particular place to go…” on the AM radio in my ’68 Mustang coupe when I heard it—a clunk.

Maybe I hit a pothole. Or collided with a suicidal squirrel. Chuck kept crooning but I listened past his voice. Then I heard it again. Yup, a definite clunk.

The next day, it was off to my mechanic. His eyes always light up when he sees this classic beauty pulling in (and I’m talking about the car here). The verdict? Motor mounts were shot.

Okay, no big deal. It’s not hard finding motor mounts for a ’68 Mustang in New England. Not when the Internet is at your fingertips. For as many classic cars that are still on the road today, there are about as many Web sites dedicated to them. There are even more sites dedicated to putting these babies back together.

Whenever anything goes clunk or squeak on my Mustang, I head over to Mustangs Unlimited [] and search for the part, or parts, needed. The site offers everything you need to get the engine purring, but in addition to that, you can find every part imaginable for the body—right down to the nuts and bolts that hold the car together.

Maybe you’ve been lurking around the junkyard and happened to come across a ’69 Chevy Camaro that’s seen much better days. The junkyard guys tell you it runs, but the body is being held together with spit and shoe polish. She’s pretty much a rust bucket on wheels. Now where are you going to get fenders, rocker panels, floor pans and everything else you need to make her resemble the proud Camaro she once was? Mill Supply [] has been meeting the demands of body shops and do-it-yourselfers for over 50 years.

James Schuld, advertising manager, said Mill Supply Inc. has been family owned and operated since 1944 when it began as a paint supplier to body shops in the Cleveland area. In later years, the business branched out into auto body parts for American cars and some imports.

“We became interested in the Internet in 1995,” Schuld said. “I believe we have created a Web site that is easy to navigate.” The site lists over 4,000 replacement panel parts and someday, Schuld said, each one will have a photo on the site. “Within a few clicks, you can usually find exactly what you are looking for.”

Simply click the make, model, and year of your car. The parts page shows a diagram of the car with every panel part listed by number. Scroll down the price list and order all from one page.

Perhaps your classic is well on its way to being restored and just needs that finishing touch. Maybe hubcaps. While today’s cars have rims or cheap plastic wheel covers, nothing says retro like hubcaps. Didn’t you just love the endless echo of metal dinging along the street when your hubcap would pop off and wave good-bye as it scampered away from you? Since 1979 [] has sold factory original new and used hubcaps directly to motor heads in the general public at wholesale prices. Located in Ontario, California, the company offers worldwide shipping. So if your uncle in Australia needs hubcaps for his ’67 Olds Toronado, you’ll know where to find them.

The site is easy to maneuver through. Simply click on the car make listed and look for your particular model. Each page has photos of the hubcaps for each car’s specific year. If for some reason you cannot find the hubcaps you’re looking for, the company asks you to call them at their toll-free number.

Maybe you look wistfully into that empty space in the garage and think how a bomber of a ’69 Cadillac Eldorado would fit just perfectly. But finding that car in your neck of the woods is about as easy as getting everyone to pay homage to the Chevy Chevette.

Instead of driving up and down the highway looking for the classic of your dreams, hop on the information superhighway and turn right at []. Click on Collector Cars, plug in the make, model, year, and price range, and drool at the listings. Okay, if you’re in Florida, you may not be thrilled to find out your dream car is all revved up and ready to go about a million miles away in Montana. So, narrow the search. lets you scale down the hunt by area code, state, or region. This is how I found my Mustang, and it was only 50 miles away. Most of the listings have pictures of the car, and all have detailed descriptions, along with contact information.
Of course, once you’ve purchased that classic set of wheels and dolled it up just a bit, the next thing you’ll want to do is share your story with other motor heads. I mean, you can’t just rescue a ’69 Pontiac Catalina from the back of the junkyard and bring her back to life without telling someone about it.

Your story will only go so far with friends and neighbors—after all they had to suffer looking at that junker sitting in your yard all those months. But there are car lovers just like you waiting to hear your story. Head over to [] and join the club. Click on “Story Submissions” and get ready to write. As the site says, “Send us your classic car stories, your reviews of a recent car show you attended, your automotive history of that classic in your garage, your personal restoration project story, your pithy esoteric article on the deeper meaning of transmissions.”

Need some help restoring that Catalina? has an Ask The Expert link where you can e-mail your questions absolutely free. There’s even a chat room, gallery (yep, send in your pics), free newsletter, message boards, and more. From this site you can also find links to numerous car clubs and car shows and events.

Whether your classic is parked in the garage or still a vision in your head, jump onto the information superhighway and buddy up with motor enthusiasts like yourself who respect a four-barrel carburetor, who have great admiration for AM-only radio, and who suffer palpitations at the site of shining chrome.

 Linda Allardice is a freelance writer with 20 years experience. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two teen-agers. And yes, she lets them drive the Mustang.

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