into brake and suspension components. Packard Industries has more that 50 years of experience catering to the automotive enthusiasts and shops. Robert Rovegno, manager for Packard Industries, is overseeing the launch of the line. Rovegno is an aftermarket veteran and the owner of several classic cars.
What was the driving force in creating the new catalog?
It’s the convenience for our trade customers to be able deal with one supplier for all their antique and collector car part needs. Packard Industries has always had a line of chassis and brake parts, but we never had a catalog or pricing structure to support the professional shop. When we launched the engine parts catalog with our engine kits, our sales took off. We are hoping the same thing will happen for the chassis and brake product lines.
What vehicles are covered in the catalog?
The majority of the coverage is for domestic vehicles manufactured between the mid 1930s to early 1970s. The cutoff for the catalog is around the early 1980s. The traditional aftermarket parts channel does a great job covering cars manufactured after the late 1970s. Every year, they have to introduce new part numbers and look at inventory movement and demands. This means they have to remove older applications from their catalogs. We want the technician to think of the Rebuilder’s Choice brand when they start hearing “on back order” or “discontinued” from their usual parts sources. When you buy a part from us, it is like calling a parts store from the era your car was manufactured and asking for an aftermarket part. You will see improvements, like better boots and clips on ball joints and tie-rod ends. Some parts have even been completely re-engineered.
Do you see any trends in other catalogs when it comes to the vehicles they are covering?
Every year, parts manufacturers remove part numbers from their catalogs. They have to do this because new vehicles are being introduced and the vehicle population is changing along with demand. Also, manufacturers have a limited amount of capacity. If it means dropping the coverage for an AMC Pacer ball joint or opening a new plant, the ball joint is going to get the ax.
Where do you source your parts?
We have two ways we acquire parts. First, we buy New Old Stock (NOS) inventory from manufacturer’s warehouses and jobbers that have either gone out of business or have dropped certain slow-moving or older part numbers. When our inventory of a NOS part is depleted, we tool up and manufacture the part. We have thousands of parts in production.
What should a shop know about a vehicle before using the catalog?
As with every parts supplier, we would need to know the basics. The year, make, model and engine size of the vehicle to start. The catalogs have all the information from application to price and availability. If a shop wanted to quote a full mechanical restoration from the engine to the springs, they could do it from our catalogs. The catalog has all of the information needed to order the right parts. Packard has an extensive library of vehicle and application information that is used to develop the listings. This is critical for older vehicles that may have been built with a variety of powertrain and chassis options. We also have a knowledgeable staff that is able to ask the right questions. This is critical for some cars that have been modified with different engines and transmission packages during their lifetime. Even the
best parts books will not tell you there has been an engine swap on a car, but our vast reference library can help you identify it.
When Packard manufactures a part, what is involved?
If we can improve a part, we will. One of the advantages of manufacturing a part after the fact is that you know where problems can arise. Take for instance early 1960s Ford Thunderbirds. The upper ball joint was part of the control arm. When the ball joint wore out, it would slam the stud into the control arm and cause the end to crack and break. In the past, when a technician replaced the joint, the kit would include the upper plate, spring, stud and cup. If it was 30 years ago, we might manufacture the replacement kit the same way. But knowing what we know, we changed and redesigned the ball joint to a one-piece forged design to prevent catastrophic failure.
Servicing a classic or special interest vehicle can be difficult. What has Packard done to make it easier?
For the chassis and brake product lines we have packaged kits for brake and chassis systems that allow the technician to restore the system to like new or better condition. Our front-end kits allow the shops to have all the parts needed to restore a vehicle’s front suspension including the tie-rods, ball joints, bushings and stabilizer links. We also offer improved polyurethane bushings that have less deflection than the stock parts. Our brake overhaul kits include almost everything needed to restore a vehicle’s brake system from the hardware to the hydraulics. The greatest advantage of these kits is that everything is packaged in one kit. Shops do not have to wait for parts to come from multiple sources. This can be a real time saver. We have built our reputation on “Do It Once and Do It Right.”
Does Packard offer any products that can improve an older brake system?
People who drive these cars want the vehicle to perform better in order to suit the conditions of today’s traffic. One of our biggest sellers is our disc brake conversion kits. We offer coverage for a large number of applications from the mid-1930s to the 1960s. These kits help vintage cars to stop quickly and safely like modern cars. All of our kits are simple bolt-on jobs, no modifications necessary.
A growing problem in the aftermarket is lead time and fill rate. What can you tell us about that?
We keep a very extensive inventory. We can provide a 98 percent fill rate with 48 hours to our customers. For example, we have 3.5 million engine bearings from John Deere to Chevrolet 409. What we really sell is service to help shops expand their businesses.