Blog : Sorry, your part has been retired..!

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jemma Hawtry

Owners of Rover 75s might find that getting parts become harder as the years go by. Should we accept this?
Owners of Rover 75s, for instance, might find that getting parts become harder as the years go by. Should we accept this?

Today has been busy. I was driving through town and the car, a Renault Safrane, started to shimmy violently at any speed over 25mph. At first I thought that a wheel had come loose – since I had had a tyre replaced recently…

I got out (in the busiest part of town naturally) and all wheels were present and correct and not leaning at a silly angle. Started to move off again gently – and lo and behold – at any speed over 25mph the Safrane thought she was starring in a Megane Advert…

Having gently limped to the nearest garage, East Hill Garage, I had a good look at the underside of the car. The problem was fairly easy to spot. It was the bit where the drivers side rear track rod had snapped and was connected to precisely nothing. Needless to say this is somewhat of a problem. Its only lucky that it didn’t break on me at high speed.

After an extended attempt to look for the track rod end that had snapped we had no joy. After about half an hour of looking on the various spares systems and checking round suppliers, we had even less. Finally we accepted the possibility known and feared by all Renault owners. All together now… “it’s a Renault only part”.

When you hear that dreaded phrase it translates to “think of a price that you would just about be willing to pay, add £100 and then add VAT on top, with some sprinkles for taste”…

But strangely – even the Renault Main Dealer couldn’t find any information about it.

A few minutes later the Dealer called back to tell us that the part I need (a large, 2ft long, metal pole with bolt fittings at each end) was a “retired part”. It means that not only are Renault not making them any more – they’ve entirely run out of stock – for a part that is about 30% by mass of the rear suspension system.

On a car thats 15 years old this part is entirely unavailable bar the odd person who might have them and sell them on eBay.

How many cars like the Rover 75 and others of a similar age, that would have made wonderful classics are going to die before their time? How many people who have cared for and looked after their cars are going to have to junk them if they are unlucky and happen to need a part thats been ‘retired’ and is now Unobtainium.

We are driving straight into a world where cars are like mobile phones. We will be forced to buy a new car or replace with a newer one, just because of the manufacturers greed.

Many people will say thats not a problem, we can get the part re-manufactured. For the moment we can, but I know from experience that the small engineering shops are falling like dominos because they are unable to get the business. By the time we need them (for cars like the Safrane, 75 and the like…) they’ll have disappeared.

I’m writing this because I know a lot of the people who read ARO are, sooner or later, going to be in a similar position to me.

Its ironic that in a time we are discussing the merits of hybrids and fuel cell cars, we are wasting energy hand over fist because of corporate greed and customer inactivity. For too long we have accepted engineered failure. Every vehicle, of any type, taken off the road, means more energy wasted to make another.

Are we going to accept this to a point where our cars will last three years and then disintegrate?

Are we happy to allow companies to “retire” essential parts to force cars off the road, even when they are perfectly fit for use?

I’m not, and may I suggest that we do something about it!

It would be a poor lookout for the posterity of the worldwide car industry if there isnt a single example of any car built after 1990. It would be a worse lookout for the planet; since every part “retired” means a whole remaining production of a given car off the road and more energy & resources wasted building an needless replacement.

AROnline reader Jemma Hawtrey is already struggling to find parts for her Renault Safrane.
AROnline reader Jemma Hawtrey is already struggling to find parts for her Renault Safrane.
Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

71 Comments

  1. “We are driving straight into a world where cars are like mobile phones. We will be forced to buy a new car or replace with a newer one, just because of the manufacturers greed.”

    This isn’t new – back in ’92, my Chevette had been out of production for only 8 years,and yet some parts were unavailable. One of Renault’s top brass stupidly, and probably out of context, said that the new Laguna’s bits were designed to have a lifespan of three years (we’re all familiar with the 3, 5 and 7 year cycle of brakes, bearings and bushes, in addition to clutches and other bits, making running an older car a more expensive exercise than you might think).

    The Japanese have consistently broken this habit – Suzuki made parts available for the Whizzkid for a long time after production ceased, and I believe Honda will reproduce parts at a certain level of demand; Mercedes, likewise, though for a much higher ‘premium’ and class of car.

    You’re unusual in wanting to run a Renault of that age and still buy new parts, sadly. It’s got a lot of life in it, as most cars of that age have, but we’ve been trained to dispose of everything when it’s unfashionable, not worn out.

  2. Its a difficult one, companies are trying to keep costs down to a minimum, ‘Zero backshop’ is something firms have been aiming towards for years,there’s little or no profit in keeping dozens of parts ‘in the back’ for a car that wasn’t a big seller.

    It wasn’t that long ago Rimmer Bros were discounting MGR parts into extinction!

  3. The disposable consumption society fills me with despair, all these people dashing out to get the latest phone/TV/insert gadget here, with cars heading the same way… I’ve tried to turn my back as much as I can, but if my 75 becomes unrepairable due to parts unavailability either I walk, or buy another car… Frankly, it’s all bollocks.

  4. It’s not a new problem though, back in the late 80’s i think, rules were introduced to ensure that manufacturers supplied parts for a car until 10 years after it was built, simply because at one point you might struggle to find parts for a 5 year old car if it wasn’t a big seller.

    Thing is though back in the early 80’s most cars rotted out or the engines were worn out by the time they were older than 10. These days cars don’t really rot out and engines will last half a million miles, so the problem becomes more obvious.

    If a car is a big seller then chances are there will be enough of them on the road for aftermarket manufacturers to tool up and make pattern parts.

    If a car is in production for a long time without too many changes (like most BL models), then potentially if you bought a car at launch and 10 years later they ceased production then you’ll probably be able to run it for 20 years and still buy parts.

    Ironically the less reliable cars are normally easier to get parts for, as aftermarket manufacturers churn out parts to meet demand!

  5. As some already said, this is no news. We’ve been through this with BL in the late 70s/80s. When the 1800S was barely out of production, the supply of new exhaust manifolds stopped. And we even tried BL franchises in the UK for some parts when on holidays between 1977 and 1984… And all considered, BL had a pretty good parts service, some spares even available when the cars got towards their 30th birthday – many owners of other makes will have different tales to tell.

    Classic car owners know this struggle (unless they drive a Mercedes, Porsche or MGB…) – for my favourite cars the Hydrolastic units will prove some thought later on.

    It is indeed interesting that quite a few parts from the Rover-Honda partnership are not available through x-part anymore, but could be ordered within 24h at any Honda dealer.

    As in the past, a true enthousiast -particular when in a group – will try to find a solution. And often be successful. This is also a point where I am willing to step in for proper owners clubs: When it comes to remanufacturing spares a well run owners club will always be in a large advantage over a small group of individuals. This is one of the reasons that I believe there is a very good raison d’être for traditional clubs.

  6. An Argentinian member of our HH-R forum recently told me of a tale whereby he could obtain Balljoints for $100 as a Rover item or $20 with Honda on the box….

  7. The biggest problem we’ll see in the future is things like ECU’s which can seldom be repaired. You could have a mint classic with a Dead ECU and no means of getting it repaired.

  8. Imagine how many very slow moving parts that a manufacturer is forced to manufacture and stock for obsolete models.

    Imagine also that they have to stock every single part for a specific period of time, while the pattern part people undercut them for only the most popular items that they pirate, with absolutely no obligation to supply every part.

    Now think how often that Renault must be asked to supply a new track rod end for a car that sold so few in the first place that I can’t even remember when they stopped making them!

    While I understand your frustration, I think it’s a little harsh to call it greed by the manufacturer.

    Having said that, I bought a new Triumph motorcycle in 1998, just as the model was going out of production. I went back a few weeks later to buy a back rack for it, only to be told that Triumph had deleted the entire range of accessories for it!

  9. @Dennis – so true, it strikes me that that we will arrive at a situation where there will be no classics post ECU, and the only classics left will be those per ECU. I suspect that this must already be happening in the world of electronic consumables, as most of our current technology is disposable. It’s going to be a tough job for future historians if there is nothing left from our era other than a load of electronic twitterage.

  10. “The biggest problem we’ll see in the future is things like ECU’s which can seldom be repaired. You could have a mint classic with a Dead ECU and no means of getting it repaired.”

    Actually, unless originality is important, that’s one of the easiest things for hobbyists to recreate. An ECU “emulator” is easily done – off the shelf generic ECUs exist (like Megasquirt) – and repairing ECUs isn’t that hard. It’s hard to reproduce a cast suspension arm, or a particular metallurgy, in the home – but hobbyists can make electronic circuits and software. And do. The protocols of multiplex wiring are well known.

    Working around immobiliser issues and coding on things like Vauxhalls is a matter of convenience and time, not possibility. For enthusiasts, time can be spent.

  11. An ECU is, as far as I know, just a simplified, cheap PC with some software on it. There will be some guys out there that will have the fuel map etc. on a laptop and can flash it onto an adhoc ECU.

  12. I’d say the ECU is unlikely to be a problem – have a ggogle of BBA-Remain. It is the most unlikely of things that an cause problems – Yugo sana headlamps 20 years ago, facelift 25/45 headlamps 5 years ago.

  13. “it’s a Renault only part”

    I remember that well – I had a L reg Renault 19 diesel back in 1998, it needed a body side moulding (just the small bit on the nearside front wing,about two inches long). It cost nearly forty quid! For comparison, a door moulding for my Honda CR-V cost only £32, and that for a huge lump of plastic complete with clips, screw fitting and double sided tape (completely over-engineered, as usual).

    I remember buying parts for my nine year old Sierra XR4i years ago and the parts guy informing me with glee that the Sierra would vanish from the Ford parts database in the next couple of years. Stupid when the parts obviously still existed – I know there is an associated storage cost for parts for superseded cars, but it seems a shame that some manufacturers just bung them in a skip rather than finding a way of saving them for future restorers – perhaps the owners clubs could band together and find a way to save them? Unrealistic and overly optimistic I know!

  14. I can’t be the only person here who can see why Renault UK, or any manufacturer for that matter, aren’t holding parts for a 15 year old car. When should they continue stocking parts until? Ad infinitum for all cars until there are none left.

    They’re in the business of making and selling new cars, not maintaining ones they haven’t made for 10 years or more.

    It’s not ideal, but I don’t think anyone can expect to run a 15 year old car and have full manufacturer parts support.

  15. I’ll try again:

    I can’t be the only person here who can see why Renault UK, or any manufacturer for that matter, aren’t holding parts for a 15 year old car. When should they continue stocking parts until? Ad infinitum for all cars until there are none left.

    They’re in the business of making and selling new cars, not maintaining ones they haven’t made for 10 years or more.

    It’s not ideal, but I don’t think anyone can expect to run a 15 year old car and have full manufacturer parts support.

  16. The problem going forward is that it will only cars perceived as ‘classics’ that will probably have aftermarket parts made for by ‘enthusiast’ suppliers, a bit like the Mini and MGB/Midget (2 examples)

    It is only in the past year or so that repair kits have been available for the TF front suspension arms, which previously had to be replaced as a whole but are no longer made, with the Chinese TF having different components ( not that this surprises me….). If a similar issue happened with, say, a 75 in the future there is probably someone, somewhere who is making and supplying the part. The Safrane, regrettably, despite its place in its owners’ hearts, will be a casualty as I do not ever see that being a desireable future classic.

    As most enthusiasts will know, membership of an owners’ club can usually help in sourcing hard-to-find parts (hard to find from mainstream suppliers at any rate) and would suggest that anyone owning a classic, old or modern, avail themselves of such a membership to try and avoid any such frustrations in the future.

  17. This is not a new event and will continue into the future, the Safrane was more or less a failure as far as Renault were concerned so its not surprising to see the parts being removed from the catalogue or stock not being replaced. A lot of cars will be scrapped due to this parts supply.

    Manufacturing a component like this isn’t cheap and the part could sit on the shelf for years before being sold. Instead the same machine could be making a part in demand now and limited shelf space given over to parts with a faster turnover.

    The only solution I can see in this case is either to locate a car being broken for spares – and see if the part obtained is in better condition or can be refurbished.

    Thanks to the internet you don’t have to restrict your search to the UK – they sold far more Safranes in France than anywhere else and a lot of “Les Dismantleurs” will ship to the UK. A lot of Citroen, Peugeot or Renault classic owners do this regularly.

    I agree with the argument about the waste in terms of a car being replaced, I disagreed with the scrappage scheme totally especially as the biggest winner was Hyundai. But in this case the campaign to “save the Safrane” will only have one member.

    In a few years we will be reading a “how many left” article about the Safrane no doubt (if we haven’t already and I just missed it) and it will disappear. Just like the Mk1 Laguna more or less has and the 21 did years before. I miss the 21 more than I will mourn the Laguna to be honest.

  18. Alot of people on here are missing the point entirely. Yes, the safrane is basically an unknown in the UK, but its not the only car that this will happen to. The 75 and other cars at at risk from this because not only has MGR died a death – but alot of dealers holding old stock will have junked it.
    Other people have mentioned that I am strange in buying new parts. Its a false economy to buy second hand, especially suspension and brake parts. The part is not the only cost for the repair. Why buy a second hand part that is an unknown, when a cheap new pattern part will do the job. I got 4 dampers for an average of £20 each, pattern exhaust for £100 less than dealer price.
    Tatra used to take in their cars and, for a price, actually assess, repair and upgrade them to the latest spec (which is why original 3 light 603s are rarer than honest MPs). If the companies could be forced to do this, it would be so much more economical and green than a build from scratch new vehicle. The companies could still make their profit and MPG efficiency could be raised astronomically. A citroen BX GTI petrol engine, replaced with the latest turbo diesel for example… 25/35 improved to 35/50mpg… An extreme example, but it makes the point.
    My safrane has the AD4/8 auto box – a very advanced one in its day, with engine braking and auto learning function. I can get 28/35 using hypermiling. Just replacing this transmission with a 5 speed auto with autostick would improve that massively…

    Its something to think about…

  19. PS: The Safrane was a massive success for Renault in Europe. It was the most successful exec car for Renault bar none. In places like Poland these cars are amazingly popular, as they are in France.
    One of the major reasons for its failure in the uk was badge snobbery. Another is the UK consumers willingness to get shafted on spares prices (uk prices are higher than the price for the same part in france). Then theres the lack of knowledge about the car in general.
    Yes you could get the Laguna – but ride in one of those and then compare it to the Safrane – they are entirely different cars with different abilities. In most areas the bigger car is substantially better.

  20. I miss the Renault 25 – a girl at school’s dad had a metallic brown one in the mid-Eighties with leather trim and air conditioning. Compared to the usual Ford Escort/Cortina that everyone else’s dads had, the R25 seemed like a car from the future! I remember him getting rid of it and replacing it with a metallic brown Renault Fuego! I was obviously even more impressed then – it looked like a Porsche!

    It’s sad how cars disappear – when was the last time you saw a Fuego, R21/25 or, indeed any Renault from before the mid-Nineties*? Yet in my experience they were better built than the ubiquitous Fords of the time – my R19 had racked up 165k in four years!

  21. Jemma, aren’t you missing the point? Why would any company who is in the business of selling new cars maintain parts availability for their old products ad infinitum?

  22. Like Jemma, I understand the economic reasons parts are dumped. Writing these parts off as a loss before they’re binned is a major consideration for tax, as well as storage space.

    But what a superb idea to rebuild cars to a later spec! Rather like updating Windows on a computer. The Tatra idea would only work with slightly more expensive machines as a $20k car would need to apply labour charges & the list of parts for upgrade coupled with wear (paint etc) would likely prove exhorbitant. But the idea has merit for cars in good condition.

    You may recall a place in the USA did this to Datsun 240Z’s a few years ago to keep interest in the ‘Z’ plate alive. It was sanctioned by the factory & they did a couple of hundred of cars. There are many more cars that would be worthwhile…like my 1990 MR2 🙂

  23. @Jemma I remember a bloke who had a Safrane (don’t know what engine but it was an automatic with leather), bought cheap from the auctions at six years old. He absolutely loved that car, said it was the most comfortable car he had ever owned and couldn’t understand why they weren’t more popular – like you say, probably badge snobbery. I rode in it once and it was utterly smooth and just wafted along and handled superbly – totally neutral and fuss-free. In comparison, I rode in friend’s Mercs and BMWs of the same era which were either like a boat (Merc E-class) or pointlessly hard-riding (BMW 5-series). And as for the Scorpio I once drove…

  24. “Other people have mentioned that I am strange in buying new parts. Its a false economy to buy second hand, especially suspension and brake parts. The part is not the only cost for the repair. Why buy a second hand part that is an unknown, when a cheap new pattern part will do the job. I got 4 dampers for an average of £20 each, pattern exhaust for £100 less than dealer price.”

    I’m not suggesting that it’s strange to buy new instead of secondhand parts. I’m suggesting it’s abnormal behaviour (based on the definition of normal being ‘what the majority do’) in that most people wouldn’t be running and maintaining a car of that type and age, period.

    Again – pointing this out does not mean that I agree with the status quo.

  25. Jemma said “One of the major reasons for its failure in the uk was ….the UK consumers willingness to get shafted on spares prices”. Not quite with you on that one – I would have thought it was lack of willingness. Whenever I compare the price of parts for my colleague’s Renault with prices for my Peugeot the Renault price is usually twice as much. We’ve recently seen Renault announce the discontinuing of much of their model range in the UK and in part this will have been due to their high servicing and parts cost in recent years, coupled of course with UK-leading levels of unreliability.

    You do have my sympathy, though. You will have to go to a lot of trouble to get an otherwise useable car back on the road.

  26. I think Jemma has hit upon an idea there. Bearing in mind older cars generally weigh less than modern ones, and invariably have the same, or sometimes better, Cd ratings, perhaps fitting a BX Gti with the latest HDi unit would be interesting.

  27. @ steve bailey: Lucky girl – that was the Monaco special edition of the R25 series 1. It was basically the TS engine – the 2.0 8v with a/c, all electrics, and the voice computer/fuel computer built in. They didnt make many of them and they were all a milk chocolate metallic brown which was quite attractive.
    I learned to drive on E794FHK, a 2.2i GTX, which went like a ballistic missile. The same engine was latterly upgraded with the 2.0 12v head to make the 2.2vi engine I have in the safrane.
    The problem with the 12v version is that the max torque RPM is 4500! not good when you have a heavy car and an autobox.

  28. @ Steve again – They did the Fuego with the 123hp 2.2i in some markets (as in the 25 GTX). There was also a turbo version which must have been quite a handful.
    Assuming you could find one, it would be entirely possible to put the 2.1 turbo from the 21/Fuego into the R25 or Safrane – since the 2.2i engines are a long stroke version of the 2.0i and the 2.1 turbo was a modified version of the 2.2i.
    All this means common mountings and the like – although I dont know what effect the Turbo engine would have on the AD4/8 auto. Probably cook it.

  29. @Jemma I bet it was a Monaco then – I remember that it “talked to you”, as the girl said (whose name I’ve forgotten but whose dad’s car I’ve remembered, sadly!) The name “Monaco” rings a bell, too. They must have had some money – it was brand new on a B reg if I remember rightly.

    My dad at the time had a five year old Escort 1.3 Popular Plus in Terracotta, a strange orangey-brown colour with the “Plus” features of fabric covered seats (non-reclining though) and a cigarette lighter. It wasn’t cool…

  30. I have sympathy with Keiths plight, but these mega corporations have money to make and stocking a myriad of parts for old cars, financing the stock, storage insurance distribution means they will always draw the line somewhere. However, as we have seen with the growth of Rimmers, Moss etc the market will always be there to serve if the demand is there. Just look on Ebay for any ‘popular’ classic car parts then try searching for parts for a rarer classic car… I too do not like this new society with built in obsclecence and buying new items for the sake of it, but money makes the world go round and business is business – so if they can get away with it – they will…

  31. Like this one, in fact:

    Lovely colour, one that’s coming back – I saw a Audi in a similar shade the other day.

  32. @ Rob B

    It is a false economy to make a new car when an old one is running and healthy.

    For example Renault are, stupidly in my opinion, trying to go all electric. All well and good – and true, the Zoe isnt going to barf out exhaust fumes, like my Safrane does.

    If you assume that it means that the Zoe is any cleaner than the Safrane you are sadly mistaken. All you have done is transferred the pollution one level up the chain – not to mention the energy use and pollution of actually making the thing. It would only become pollution 0% if every single power station in the UK is a Thorium Liquid Salt reactor – even then you’d need to spend money and energy to upgrade the entire national grid – more pollution…

    Alot of companies are saying “woo hoo, our manufacturing sites are hyper clean” which in many cases is true. But if you make an entire car in comparison to a replacement engine and transmission and a general check and replacement of exhausted parts – you will be cleaner still…

    @ Stuart Roberts

    Given how things are in the car industry I cant see the problem updating smaller cars – in fact I would suggest that would be the best end of the range to start at.

    The cars are generally more upgradable – a base model might be a 1000cc but with space to take up to a 1700cc engine (Renault 5 II for example went from a 956cc engine to the 1700cc F2N engine via the 1400 turbo).

    Less gubbins under the bonnet means more space.

    Higher numbers sold means a higher number of upgrade customers.

    Commonality of parts such as engine mountings and ancilliaries means cheaper parts and cheaper production – the more more you make the cheaper they are per part.
    Performance gains with a smaller car are greater. If you improve the power in a Fiesta by 20hp, it will make alot more of a difference than you’d get with a Mondeo.

    Use of raw materials goes down, use of energy goes down – so the manufacturers save money on those two costs.

    And heres the interesting point that no-one realises…

    Lets say my current car is 1325kg and has 135 hp. That will give you a certain fuel consumption. The problem is though that the engine has a max torque at 4500rpm. Any engineer will tell you this is not ideal.
    Lets say there is an upgraded modified engine available. weighs about the same, produces 150hp, but its torque max is 2500rpm…

    What you have then is a car with more power and substantially better performance.

    But this is the kicker. The actual usage of the car remains the same. The driver doesnt suddenly go 20% faster. Average driving will remain entirely the same.

    Therefore, any improvement in power, means an improvement in MPG. Ditto with a reduction of the max torque RPM.

    In this case I am assuming a like for like conversion – replacing petrol for diesel or even for diesel hybrid – can give you anything up to a 40-50% improvement.

  33. @ steve 36

    *sigh* that brings back memories. You can recognise the Monaco by the single headlights – the V6 and V6 Turbo had two sector headlights presaging the Safranes.
    The number of times the bonnet catch wouldnt lock properly on the 25 you wouldnt believe… and every single time it would be *tone* Bonnet not shut *ding-dong* – which could really get under your skin, you ended up replying to the thing..
    There was also a test mode – a recorded information listing of all the different functions monitored… which ended something like “Oil, Engine Temperature, Doors, Bonnet, Boot. Lights, easily forgotten…’.
    The black 25 TXi only let us down once – it killed its alternator in the middle of France towing the caravan. Every thing shut down one by one – but the voice computer shut down first *before* it let us know the problem. The mechanics were all over it, because they’d never seen the english version – and I seem to remember we got free labour on that basis (strangely, the milometer had gone up a fair bit, I have no idea why…).

  34. This is a problem that has been on going since the days of mass production, and I doubt it will be one that changes any time soon, all cars no matter who made them finally get abandoned by the maker, leaving just the non OE parts out there, which as time goes by fall by the wayside too, leaving those elusive ex dealer/ex factor NOS supplies that have fallen down the back of the cabinet, or been sat in some ex owners shed/garage for the past 30 years.

    This is only resolved when said car reaches a somewhat cult status and proves popular as a collectors classic, I wonder how much support the MGB or Morris Minor would have today if they weren’t as popular?

    Good luck with the search Jemma, hopefully one won’t be too hard to find somewhere on the internet, and lets face it, that has helped keep several old cars on the road that may have otherwise gone to the scrapper for the sake of an obsolete and locally unfindable part. See modern technology is good for something at least! 😉

  35. As the Safrane was such a poor seller it’s not surprising that parts have been deleted if there was no demand for them.

    Austin-Morris deleted Ambassador body parts from their listings after 8 years as nothing was being purchased.

  36. There are exceptions though: Drive a Mercedes or Porsche. Mercedes (at a time, don’t know if this still holds) even sold factory approved 2nd hand spares through their outlets. Both will only fail to supply the more obscure parts for any car sonce the 50s, but this comes at a price. Compare the price of a cheap repro bumper for an MGB with a not too dissimilar item for a Merc /8 saloon – you’d think one would be made from gold dust… Given that the numbers of these parts sold only make a very miniscule part of the complete business it would seem unfair to call the prices greedy.

    And before going to fit one of these brand new, shiney and cheap pattern parts, I will usually try to find either a NOS one or even use a 2nd hand one to factory spec. Many (if not most) of the pattern parts are of really bad quality. Most of the cheaper ones you get in the UK are not sold here in Germany, as they are simply not legal, as the necessary certificates are missing…

  37. @ Darius:

    I like your sentiments. After all, how many young mechanics (under 25 years old) who work for garages dealing with cars that are predominantly less than fifteen years old will be able to tune carburettors?

    Do modern car mechanics courses actually teach young apprentices what a carburettor actually is, let alone how to tune one?

  38. The same thing happened to me with my 93 Scorpio sapphire: a broken headlight and Ford or any of the lightining makers don´t have any available. Thank God there´s a great Ford breaker in Algarve!

  39. David, there aren’t any mechanics these days, they are either fitters or technicians, as rather than repair the part or car they just fit a complete new bit, or they sit there bashing at a keyboard after plugging it in to a PC.

    I’m sure if I took the Triumph to a lot of garages they’d not know how to service and tune it properly, thankfully I do, as does the small garage I use for bits I can’t be bothered to do as the chap there is ex BL/ARG and knows his onions.

  40. The safrane and 25 were frankly flimsy and ok,badge snobery played a part in its poor sales in the uk,but put a scorpio or omega next to it you begin to see why,they felt more substantial than the renault,car makers cant afford to store parts forever as storage space costs money, after six years out of production car makers arn’t obliged to stock stuff anyway although BMW have always helped me with my E30 parts,maybe a competant engineer could help?As for modern mechanics courses i could do them in my sleep-its fitters now,i recently asked a young lad fresh out of college what the otto cycle,hotchkiss drive,szeppa joint and what short term fuel trim was and i felt he was badly let down in his education at the college he didnt know the answers but hes not to blame.

  41. if you are not fussy ,just wont wheels and a roof ,get a old bedford rascal,not made here for 20 years ,,still being made in south america ,

  42. @ Rob C:

    Thank you for this as it confirms something – I’m an audio cassette living in an iPod world.

    What a shame that when genuine mechanics do retire one day their skills are unlikely to be handed down to a younger generation known as technicians.

  43. Not long after I left school, I worked at a main agent truck & van dealer that held the Ford & Iveco franchise. We still had shedloads of Mk2 Transit panels in stock including complete sides, doors, bonnets etc. We were told to skip the lot, as they were now obsolete. Just think how much those parts would be worth now, because the side panels would fit any Mk1 tranny, and so would the doors. Would have been a boon to any restorer.

  44. It’s parts where car manufacturers can make the real profits – at Land Rover the parts division represented 2.5% of turnover but 25% of group profits. Problems start when planning for ongoing supply once car manufacture ceases isn’t done properly, especially if parts are “facelifted” and tooling modified. Things get worse when suppliers go bust or are delisted for future business and records are lost.

    I’ve got a 22 year old Toyota – a grey import of which only 16,000 were made and never officially imported into the UK.
    You can still get spares though – Toyota and other Japanese manufacturers are particularly good at this and don’t often get much credit for it.

  45. Volvo seemed pretty good for my 740 a couple of years ago, i went in an ordered some pretty obscure stuff and they still got it for me. When i asked if there was anything they didn’t do, he said they 700 series are ok, but the 300 series don’t have much available any more.

    The Japanese do seem to keep stuff a long time, but my god they know how to charge for it!

  46. I remember my dismay when my Fiat 131 rear axle differential failed in 1988 – the car had done 46k miles. It was an ’85 twin cam estate just before Fiat stopped RWD production. The parts were no longer available from Fiat after 3 yrs! I was told Fiat ran production until the stock of axles was used up….
    Ended up having to get one from a scrapped one.
    Imagine my even greater dismay when it failed it’s MOT at 4yrs old and had to have a sill and part of the floor replaced – was covered by Fiat under the 6 yr corrosion warranty though….strangely never bought another Fiat….

  47. I agree with the comments re: Honda / Japanese manufacturers.

    Driving a ’99 Accord coupe, as rare as hens teeth and month away from 13 years old, never had an issue with getting parts from the Honda dealer.

    Might take a couple of days for it to ship (usually from some warehouse in England), but even awkward bits of trim are no problem.

    Alfa was slightly more awkward for a ’96 GTV when it was 11 years old, but could get all parts, again even awkward individual bolts (that have a tendency to shear) but it took a week or two sometimes to ship from Italy.

    Why can’t Renault UK ship parts from France? There are quite a few Safranes (and Vel Satiseses) over there still running.

  48. @Will M

    Totally agree – Honda are fantastic on parts. I got a bodyside moulding within two days for my 2002 CR-V (mark 1, strangely registered after the mark 2 had been on sale for nearly a year – bet they got a hell of a discount!) I remember having several Fords and struggling to get items of trim for them when they were a few years old.

    I love Hondas – on my third, previously had a 1998 Accord 2.2i VTEC (the one that was basically the same as a Rover 600) and a 1999 Accord 2.0i VTEC ES with tiptronic automatic (best automatic gearbox I have ever experienced).

  49. If it helps, Euro Car Parts lists it (they source a lot of stuff from mainland Europe)

    Could be worth trying Klarius – I know they have a lot of stuff still for this model.

    Hope you keep the Safranne – nice cars, I always fancied one.

  50. “I’ve got a 22 year old Toyota – a grey import of which only 16,000 were made and never officially imported into the UK.”

    And at a guess, one with interesting doors, that for at least until a couple of years ago even obscure and unique parts were available from a warehouse in Belgium of all places…

  51. Euro car parts is a good call.

    Sourced and sold me a drum of Hydraflush to flush out an LHM system on a Xantia, even the Citroen dealer couldn’t help with that.

    Very helpful and friendly, good prices too.

  52. I also agree on the aforementioned comments, look at me with a ’89 Sterling 827sli (ROVER) in your part of the woods! We have 1 distributor still in business I think ‘The Sterlingfixer in Pennslyvania so hang in there guys because I ain’t giving up!

  53. The good news is I managed to get the part on Ebay – it appears I managed to get the only remaining Renault original NOS part for this in the entire UK.

    Its a LHS part (Renault have made them handed, by putting a small mounting for the handbrake cable on each side, doubtless to make more money on them) – but since the person who had my car before me had already busted it it makes no matter.

    Additionally when I turned up to bring the part to the garage along with new rear dampers – the damaged brake line on that side had finally decided to die and had splattered the area with fluid…

    Thanks for all the suggestions on spares suppliers. Thats useful information.

    Oh, and it looks like the turbo engine from the 21 should pretty much drop straight in with a few modifications. Its also a J7x series engine, which means its a Douvrin. 30hp and a torque-max at 3000 instead of 4500 would be more economical. With the gearing my car has at the moment 4500rpm is 100mph! – so the engine is at its most economical at basically autobahn speeds.

    I wonder if we could ARO – or a group of ARO readers – could do a project on updating an older car with newer parts/engines/etc and do a before and after road test on the car…

    From the comments I have read on here – there are more than enough people with more than enough experience and engineering skills to pull it off…

  54. “could do a project on updating an older car with newer parts/engines/etc and do a before and after road test on the car…”

    There already is, read the R6 development story. :p

    That’s pretty much all Rover did with the Metro.

  55. As an employee of XPart, we strive against many issues to keep MG Rover cars on the road, we have maintained a high availability even for older models. It’s great that so many MG and Rover owners are keen to keep their vehicles and we all want to see their cars on the roads of both the UK and the rest of world for many years to come.

  56. Entirely agree with Jemma… The “throwaway rather than repair” society is getting worse – phones and TVs are the worst examples as we are encouraged to change for changes sake and domestic appliances lose their value instantly. Cars are just as bad!

  57. Agree with practically everything said so far, maybe the new economic conditions will change our views on making do and mending perfectly good if not fashionable cars, phones, computers, etc.

  58. I think its borderline criminal that we as customers are effectively forced to waste resources and energy – making equipment that is, ironically, in a lot of cases less functional than its predecessor. Governments could easily force a Tatra style approach, if, and only if, we the motoring public force them to do so – fundamentally *we* are the people who can drive change, through the, and I use the term advisedly ‘democratic system’..
    Im reminded of a Futurama quote… one of the characters is discussing recycling and Earths future, and the other replies “its not as if its the only one we’ve got….” (ep 603).
    Cynical, but food for thought. This *is* the only one we have and we are wasting monumental amounts of almost every resource.
    I dont think a lot of people understand, re oil, exactly how many different industries rely on it. My father spent his career selling agrochemicals & fertilizers – not only were the cars he used to do this, and the delivery vehicles, and the tractors and sprayers and the like all using fossil fuels – but many of the chemicals and fertilizers that we rely on are made from OIL. Many medicines can be manufactured from simple compounds – but they can be made much easier from oils.

    Re the R6 -yes they did do in effect what I have been suggesting – but only because they didnt really have any other option – and they were lucky in the way it worked… It would not take much for companies to make a common mounting system for their engines – much as mobile phone manufacturers have to do now with the charging ports.

    Imagine a world where a 30 year old bodyshell, could be fitted up with state of the art engines. A Peugeot 605 with the latest HDi diesel?

    Its not an insurmountable engineering challenge. It should even be possible to fit it with the 1.6HDi engine and get reasonable or even equivalent performance.

    Or how about a nice updated MGBGT V6? that nice smooth 2.5 KV6 with a selespeed type automatic? Economical, swift and flexible.

    The possibilities are endless..

  59. i have to say reading all these comments that i feel very lucky , i have owned my rover sd1 v8 vanden plas for 22 years and have to say that parts have never been easier to get. ie rimmers and ebay. so am i just lucky or what. we also have an mg maestro a 96 discovery and a rover 200 series. all easy to get parts for. are we at an advantage with owning BRITISH cars? interesting or what????

  60. @ Steve Bailey, I saw a Fuego only a couple of weeks ago, it instantly stood out to me because of the fact you don’t see cars like that about these days.

    I rather liked them all those years ago.

  61. @Jemma

    A good point you make.
    It is borderline criminal the wastage that goes on, cars that are built to be obselete after 3 years (after the fleet markets have disposed of them), computers that are replaced after a couple of years, even sofas that are thrown out because DFS are advertising their neverending Sale.
    Clothes that are thrown out because magazines say that you can’t wear that because you need to look different this year.
    Food that gets binned because people are too greedy or don’t check labels or simply because ‘best before’ gets confused with ‘use by’.

    As for a 605 with an HDi, no thanks. (Too many sensors though at least with your proposed common mounts the garage would be able to replace them properly.)
    Especially not the stressed 1.6 unit. Give me a 2.1 XUD in mine please.
    People would turn their nose up at the idea anyway, and would continue to flock to buy Qashqows, A4s and 3 serieseses.

  62. Saw a blue Safrane on a T reg here in Leeds the other day. I was surprised how big it looked – normally cars from a decade ago seem smaller than cars of today, but the Safrane looked Audi A6 sized. (I may be wrong, but it did look big!)

    Nicely styled car, subtle yet interesting design, far better than the Passat/Audi of the time. It deserved to have done better.

  63. Looked like a big Laguna, the Questor grille looked classy.

    Interesting choices of engines, initially had a 2.5 litre Iveco diesel option, towards the end they used Volvo engines.

    They sell the Latitude as the Safrane in the middle east. We don’t get the Latitude in the UK as buyers here are too obsessed with SUVs and think saloons have to be German.

  64. Said it before, said it again – I want a BX with the 1.6HDi, carbon fibre bonnet, wings and boot lid, modern tyres, the late ’80s flat wheel trims, and nothing else messed with. I’d be surprised if it delivered under 80mpg on the motorway.

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