How To Find Parts to Build a Replica Movie Car
The cold, hard, truth.
For many people replica, building a replica movie car is childhood dream. For those who are brave enough to make such an investment, I wish I could tell you that it;s going to fun and easy. Unfortuately, it’s not without extreme challenges. I can’t tell you how many inquiries I get a day, often from seemingly desperate people who are at their wit’s end, tyring to find that one last, impossible-to-find part. Or at least, that’s how they make it sound.
In reality, 99% of them haven’t even bother to do a simple Google search and I know it. Perhaps it’s different in other markets but when it comes to building replicas of Fast and Furious cars, it seems to be much, much different. I actually had one dude who proclaimed that he couldn’t be botthered to search Google because “it’s just easier to ask you.” Wow. How does one even respond to that? This person forgets that I’ve typed the same answer probably 500 times this year alone. I wroted 86,000 words to author my book. There’s another 20,000 words on this website and nearly 850 posts on my Instgram with details, specs and pictures – I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of disseminating information, most of it, for free.
Over the last two and a half years, I’ve seen a disturbing trend – a good percentage of people who have reached out to me or to owners of Fast & Furious replica cars seem to have a sense of entitlement. It’s as if they think we’re here to serve them, at our expense and without regard for our time, privacy or priorities. They might mean well, or maybe they don’t know better, but all of the replica owners are talking about it.
It’s the new attitude – and no one likes it. People who blow up our PMs and DMs demanding everything from high res photos, copies of paperwork, full parts lists including manufacturer part numbers and phone numbers to the shops that sell these parts and so on. Some of the requests I’ve received are simply outrageous – one guy even asked for a copies of my bills of sale from movie cars – and was quite outraged when I declined.
That said, as of late, I’m simpy starting to shy away from engaging in such discussions. After several years of trying to answer every question, invariably, some people are still not satisfied. I was warned about this by friends in the industry who have built some fine replicas. They always said, “don’t give away the information because it will never be enough.”
I want to make one thing clear – all of the replica owners and builders of original movie cars have gone out of our way on hundreds if not thousands of times to help people with their projects. In order to have time to help sincere people, we have to turn away the tire-kickers and the bullshitters.
Many of the movie car and replica builders have taken a fair amount of heat for not openly disclosing all their secrets, but after years of being taken advantage of, we’ve learned not to waste our time. We quickly segment the people who are asking for help in acuqiring parts or parts lists into groups:
1. People who are not old enough to drive or don’t even have the car – Probably 80% of the inquiries I get are from people who aren’t old enough to drive or don’t yet own the car they “intend” to build. I know some people want to gather the parts they need even BEFORE they build the car but in almost every case, that never happens. At best, they end up with 50% of the parts for a car that they never buy. It’s a waste of my time, so I personally, tend to ignore questions from people who fall into this category.
2. Fact-gatherers – These are people who aren’t currenltly building a car but are just curious and they’re hell-bent on getting parts lists, seemingly just for shits and giggles. I think we all dislike this approach the most. The replica car builders have often done thousands of hours of research finding the actual part numbers. They should be under no obligation to share the results of all that hard work for free. Unless you actually own the car you intend to build, don’t be surprised if people don’t take you seriously. It’s nothing personal, it’s business.
The irony of all this is that the full parts lists of many of these cars are right here on my website. Maybe not the actual part numbers, but the products lists are available. They are in my book (“Crashing Cars” – Available on Amazon) and in Edde Paul’s book (“The Cars of The Fast and The Furious” – also on Amazon).
As I said, I still get people who insist on DM’ing me for the info and when I refer them to the website, they get upset. I’ve spent HUNDREDS of hours putting together this site, so if you can’t be bothered to do research here, forgive me if I don’t seem motivated to assist those individuals.
As one friend put it, ‘if people are too unmotivated to look at those sources first, they shouldn’t expect a warm welcome from any of us. It’s not that we don’t want to help, it’s just that this tends to come off as a sense of entitlement.’ I agree with that.
Google is your friend
Fortunately, much of this information is available on Google. My favorite little vignette of any day is when someone writes me and says “I can’t find it anywhere!” I do a 30-second search, and voila. I’m constantly baffled how I, as a 50-year-old gentleman, can out-Google 20-year-olds who can seemingly find an outrageous meme for any situation.
You can find anything on the internet if you just make a little effort. Candidly, knowing how to use Google should be a basic life skill that everyone over the age of eight years old should master. It occurred to me that some of my followers are either very young or computers aren’t their thing. That’s ok, so let me point you in the right direction.
The concept is simple: ask a question of Google and the more specific your question, the better your results. For those people who need a more thorough review, watch this video:
Now let’s apply it to finding parts for your replica. Let’s look at this recent, real-life, case scenario: One of my Instagram followers asked me “what body kits are on the Civics?” The question, in more detail, is “what body kits were on the Fast and the Furious Honda Civics?” Type that phrase into Google, and this is what you get:
After a little research, we find out that they were VIS GT Bomber kits. VIS is/was a popular brand of body kits that built their business on copying (and slightly changing) the designs of more expensive body kits. When we search ‘VIS GT Bomber kits 1995 Honda Civic,” we get this result:
Boom! We found it. Click on the green car to the right of the search results and you get this page:
This entire process took less than two minutes.
The annoying part of this is that when I looked at this follower’s Instagram, he wasn’t old enough drive, doesn’t have a job and is simply “dreaming of building this car “someday.“” Not to be coldhearted, but I run a business and have a life, too. While most of us movie car owners/replica builders go out of our way to help sincere builders, it gets frustrating when people don’t respect our time.
I’ve personally helped several people who were actually building movie cars. I’ve sent them detailed photos, provided measurements, made sketches and provided proprietary build secrets to them. I’m happy to do for those who are demonstrably sincere, professional and respect my time. I’ve been burned when I tried to help some people when I had suspicions about them in the first place. In one case, I shared the name of a contact at one of the companies that made wheels for one of the movie cars. I explained to this person in advance that the wheels were long since discontinued, and since I knew the owner of the company personally, I knew he was not planning on making any more of them. This alleged replica-builder called and berated my friend for not making more of the wheels asserting, “you’re missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
After further investigation, the alleged replica-builder didn’t have two dimes to rub together – he was broke, without a car and living in his parent’s basement. This person is either mentally ill or simply completely clueless, but he sure had no time wasting the time of several of the top replica builders around the world.
Owners of movie car replicas have to be especially careful. People like Dave DesChenes, Dominic Dubrueil, James King, Kevin Peacock and many others around the world, are all connected through social media. We all talk – often. We know when scamsters are on the prowl and we alert everyone. They too have all had their time wasted and as a result, we’re all far more selective about whom we’ll help.
There’s another consideration about which you should be aware – many of these parts have been discontinued, with no chance of them ever going back into production. As a result, there’s a limited supply of these parts, globally. For those people who are in the business of building replicas, they simply can’t share their sources for used parts – they need the parts themselves in order to build replicas for paying customers or, to have spares in case something happens to one of their own cars. It’s nothing personal when they decline to help you. Again, they’ve spent months or even years finding used parts from all around the world – why should they help you for free???
However, if you called them and offered to pay them to build YOU a car, watch how fast the situation changes. Get the picture, now? No one works for free – nor should they.
For those who say, “oh, I want to build it myself.” Great! That also means that you must do the research yourself.
When I was a kid, I liked building World War II model ships. To build them accurately, I went to the library and looked at archived photos to ensure the accuracy of my models. Today, I still build ship models and with the internet, it’s far easier to get accurate photos. My point is that the information out there – if you’re willing to make just a little effort.
I had this exact conversation with one of the professional replica builders last week. He’s 20 years my junior and he too is baffled at the lack of motivation displayed by some people. He told me that before he helps anyone, he wants to see photo/video proof that the person actually owns the car before he’ll even engage in a conversation.
Don’t waste your time or others’ time
Let’s be honest for a moment – if you aren’t old enough to drive, you shouldn’t be blowing up someone’s social making demands on the premise that you’re ‘going to be building’ a movie car.
If you are old enough drive and don’t already have the car you “intend” to build (and worse yet) or have never built a project car, don’t be surprised if others don’t take you seriously.
You’re not entitled to anything. The people who choose to help you are doing you a huge favor. Be kind and respectful in your approach, and you’ll do well. Displays of arrogance or entitlement will get you ignored.
Much of this information is still free
My point of all this is that much of this information is free, assuming you’re willing to invest your own time into doing a bit of searching. Movie car owners, replica car owners, and their builders are more impressed if you’ve put in some serious time on researching the information on your own. If you’ve done the research, serious research, and still can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s ok to reach out to one of us but be advised – if you don’t actually own the car yet and aren’t actively working on it, don’t expect anyone to take you seriously.
If you’re truly committed to building a movie car, spend the time doing the research and keep the project moving forward. Share your progress on social media and you will have earned the respect of other replica builders. Once these relationships are established, I can promise you that you’ll have access to an amazing group of people. Remember that it’s supposed to be hard – if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.