Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sears Imported Car Replacement Parts - 1972/3

Looking for that certain whatzit for your Renault R-10 Gordini? No problem, just grab a ten dollar bill and hop in your local time machine to take delivery of your authorized Sears and Roebuck imported car parts!

The front cover of this old parts brochure almost looks like contraband, with "IMPORTED CAR" emblazoned in block lettering diagonally across the top of the page, as if to say "You really shouldn't be driving one of these, pinko". Featured cars are artfully depicted in front of their hometown scenery. A vintage Corolla parked at the very bottom of mount Fuji, a tribute to your newfound social standing after opting not to buy a Maverick after all. A Fiat 850 before the leaning tower of Pisa, a mechanical metaphor that need not be explained. A Yellow P1800 is standing in the front lawn of some mysterious Swedish house of parliment, representing the acts of Congress that you should be prepared to pass to get your car fixed outside of the warranty period. Although a breeze now, import car ownership was once for the brave, pioneering, and the often shortsightedly cheap.

This fairly well-stocked parts book contains many aftermarket parts that many foreign car owners would not find elsewhere and vintage car enthusiasts would scour eBay for years in search of. A full exhaust for a Hillman Husky, Ferrari 250GTO fuel pump, or a complete Vinyl convertible top for a Jaguar XK-120 was just a call away. Porsche 356 tail lights, now worth $450/set, were once available for a cool $2.79.

Although the prices look bargain-basement cheap, it's particularly amazing how the cost of mechanical replacement parts has decreased over the years, presumably due to cheap labor and technological innovation. Listed below are some prices of parts in 1972, what they would cost adjusted for inflation, and what they can be found for new today.

Alternator, MG BGT 1969-70
Then: $80.79
Adjusted: $411.36
Now: $117.60

Engine Rebuild Kit, VW 1600cc 1965-69
Then: $106.09
Adjusted: $540.18
Now: $299.95

Exhaust "Extractor" (odd English terminology...), Datsun 240z, 1970-72
Then: $128.99
Adjusted: $656.77
Now: $240.47

Fuel Pump, Rover P4, 1950-62
Then: $30.49
Adjusted: $149.56
Now: $54.15

Times certainly have changed. Although some prices were then outrageous, it sure would save headaches if Sears still had these unsold items stashed in a warehouse somewhere...

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