Lotus Europa Forums > Vendors Storefront

It's a crapshoot...Vendor issues

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Lou Drozdowski:
We all know that when it comes to finding OEM parts for a 40+ year old car and you are bound to the trial and error method. Or...perhaps you have sourced the usual vendors and end up stuck with the part that wont work. 
I wanted to examine this issue after reading recent posts concerning silly trim items like trim panel holders, door seal fitment, hand brake shoes, retainers, windshield trim, and various gaskets and whatever. I sometimes wonder who the vendors are working with to have their inventory made?

I have had mixed results...Banks would be my go to guy, most of the time but w/shipping and exchange you get plunked.
I love Ray at R&D...He is 40 minutes away, however his trim selection at the time would not solve my problem...2 sets of door seals, a set of 1/4 window gaskets, door panel clips, I had to eat and his prices were a little rich...$69 for a headlight knob? had me search elsewhere...I got the hood lift kit from Banks for $250 including shipping...Ray wanted $495?...another lost sale thru no fault of his, I knew I had to keep looking to better his price.
 Dave Bean before his fire... A catalogue website?..never????
Yes, there are others like Paul Matty and S&J...but they get most of their stuff from Banks. I can go on with more horror stories...but ranting won't solve the problem.

We have become a formidable group here...We should be able to influence our own suppliers since we are their only Europa market. I welcome all of your suggestions to help solve our mutual concerns.  Some thoughts?

1. Contact all the existing vendors and have them join...with the dedicated Vendor heading to correct supply and fitment. Fix it right the first time! 

2.Challenge the vendors to be price competitive...they will have to sell at better quality and lower costs to survive.

3. Send in those used parts as templates to determine working reproductions.   

 We are a strong group of intelligent & dedicated folks here with years of knowledge...I look forward to your responses

I agree we have a problem that most of us pretty much try to accept so I welcome any ideas that would improve the situation.

Maybe we could start a database of replacements and reproductions as well as sourced for genuine Lotus parts that include the sources, price, quality, fitting notes, etc. If the "Usual Suspects" are aware of this it could encourage them to be more competitive.

This sort of folds into an earlier discussion we had here concerning a wiki. This would be a good topic to include.

As for the hood lift kit, I wonder if Richard is selling to his retail customers at the same price as his wholesale customers. That's something we might enjoy but it's not a good situation for people like Ray he should never be in competition with his retailers. (Incidentally, I got a lift kit from Richard too and it would not "bolt on" to my car.)

Lou Drozdowski:
Thanks, BDA...I wanted to strike a nerve and glad you posted first. Resto's aren't cheap...I dare to show my wife the receipts I have accumulated over the years.

I have been associated with the automotive retail system for 30 years prior to retirement...

We need a Loyalty program, I know I have spent thousands with Banks and Ray...never got a discount.
Some sort of club/ group /forum  % off could be a start. It would encourage and feed the established members along with the recent new owners to a particular vendor...forcing the other to follow suit.

The point is...what is loyalty worth...we need to be taken care of...not the other way around.

I would encourage all the Hero and senior members to chime in...please...Ideas?

I will be glad to try and get the ball rolling by going directly to Ray and chat with him...
I need the support from all of you first. The more solutions available and strength of our community is paramount.

Remember those famous words from Michael Corleone ?....It's not personal,just business. ld

I'm going to give some slack here to the dealers. I saw the scene from their viewpoint back in the 80s/90s when we lived in Yorkshire and I was friendly with Chris Foulds who ran a Specialist workshop for mostly Elans & Europas. He was quite open about getting parts from both Lotus & aftermarket and gave me a different perspective. Being a small dealership and looking at the number of parts you need to rebuild either an Elan or Europa, he had a problem in getting stuff on the shelf. 

For example, think about the "chrome" windscreen trim. You'd buy it in rolls and to get a decent price it would be 100, 200 yard rolls (pure guess on length) and then you'd need the aluminium corner pieces, 4 per car, so let's say you buy enough for 10 cars. The first guy comes along and buys a set. (that was me  :)  ) He tells his mate who also gets a set to put in his store for the day when the windscreen needs changing.  Chris is doing a customer restoration so now has stock for 7 cars left on his shelf. How often do you change a windscreen on a car which is no longer a daily driver ?  I'll suggest that many of the current restorations will never change the screen again, baring mishaps with stones of course.  So the dealer has cash tied up on his shelf until the next restoration comes along, which is cash he can't use to stock the part you want next month.

Now if you're like Alex and doing half a dozen cars at once, then you have some buying power. But the rest of us don't because we simply aren't an attractive market for a dealer to put a lot of his credit into a stock loan.  Back in the 90s, Chris would club together with Paul Matty to get bigger discount and he'd also use his regular customer base as well. I remember him ringing me at work once to see if I was interested in getting a spare set of spring/damper units because they were trying to put a deal together for OEM spec parts.

All of which is my background and not exactly relevant but I think it highlights the problems that Richard, Ray, SJS, etc all have. They'll get a couple of calls for ashtrays and then look into getting such a small part re-manufactured. They end up getting 50 units, sell 10 and then no-one else wants one so the stock gathers dust on their shelf for the next 10 years

Moving into positive mode....     in the UK the MG club recognised the difficulties in the 70s and set up a parts section where they'd essentially get a group buy together. Maybe 20 guys wanting front bumpers so they'd get 50 made and hold 30 in stock for sale as new members joined up. They could do that because there were club funds from subscriptions and of course it's an appreciated member service with some joining simply to get access to the parts.   

There are informal group buys with the Yahoo group, like the guy who created the NG3 cable shift and organised parts manufacture.  AFAIK that worked well.

And I suspect that's the only way forward because if I were Richard, Ray or whoever and someone approached asking for discount or asking me to compete against the guy who I'd just done a buying deal with then I'd not really be interested. Where else are you going to go ?

If we had a definite project, for example we had 20 members all wanting chrome windscreen trim corners (or whatever) then going along with cash deposits which would go a long way to funding the manufacture and leave a couple on the dealer's shelf at no great cost, well that might work. I think group buys where 80/90% of the product is sold before manufacture is the only real option open to us.

The next problem is deciding exactly what we all want next.....    ;)


I must be Banks best customer, restoring 7, and I get no favours.

Having been to his shop twice, he has heaps of stock all over the place, and he make a lot of the strange bits himself.

He makes a living, not a fortune, and without him, we would be stuffed.

For parts he cannot get at a reasonable price, add a mark up, and sell on, he just doesn't sell them, e.g. exhaust systems and seats. I have had to source them and have reported that to share the sources here.

I have just reported a source for trim clips.

I don't think Banks' prices are expensive, and if we created a buying cartel and demanded discount, it would probably put him out of business.

I have just about sourced and bought all the consumables from various sources, in multiple numbers, so I have had to find people who stock the original parts, including rear number plate lights, the steering column switches, headlight bowls, seat runners, etc.

I am now using the left over from a sample aluminium cladding panel  sent for analysis following Grenfell Tower (taken off a new build in Slough near Heathrow Airport) as the heat shield below the boot box above the silencer/muffler.

I have found places that refurbish wheels, straighten and re-chrome bumpers, I have found the original fibreglass body moulds, and so far nothing has escaped my searches, but they are all being sold in low volume, so stock is sitting gathering dust, and costing the vendor while in stock.

My keeper 4688R will just about have everything new on it that can be renewed, so will cost me a few quid, but lots of the consumables are cheap compared with modern car parts, and the re-sale value for original un-modified cars is increasing steadily.

I have no moans, it has taken a while to source items, but we all share the info here, and that is what a forum like this is for.

I was about to compile a list of the bolts used soon. The rear suspension is 1/2" or 7/16" UNF of various lengths, but it is very simple to work out what they are and to buy them in. 4688R came in lots of bits in a container almost completely dismantled after a bad crash, so lots of small bits were missing including most of the big bolts. I had to make the ally spacer for the master cylinder on a lathe, but it is do-able. It is round instead of exhaust gasket shape, but that doesn't matter. I made the front closer plate out of 4mm ally sheet, and that looks good, but you hardly ever see it.

So in conclusion, I am quite happy dealing with Richard as is, and I dread the day he decides to pack it in because of lack of profit, or lack of demand.

Alex in Norfolk.


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