My Contribution

CarMichael Angelo

my rearend will smell so minty fresh,
15 Year Member
Nov 29, 1999
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On another thread, the others that have posted have listed their qualifications, and experience so as to be able to be "tagged" for help by the others in this forum to lend that experience to the one asking for help. I listed all of my experience, and qualifications in that same thread, and in the end when it came to being able to narrow that experience down to a "specialty" so that I could also be tagged, I was unable to offer anything that specific.

Upon reflection, I do think I am the master of one thing though.

The scrounge/relationship building:

Unless you're a service member, all of us live, and have lived in the same place for several years, (sometimes our whole lives) yet when I look in on some threads of where some guys get their stuff to build their cars, and what they pay to do for it floors me.

I've lived in Birmingham for 27 years.

I have relationships where they know my name, (or at least my face) in about a dozen shops here locally, and enough friends where the mention of their names help get me in the doors of the others when I'm not.
It seems easy for me now, but most of what I'm talking about took years to cultivate, and just like any tree planted from a sapling, it grows more every year.

If you're gonna build or modify a car you obviously need sources for three things:

Parts
Supplies
Service

First lets talk about parts.

Why anybody buys any thing other than specific Mustang parts from anybody other that Summit is beyond me. Most of us spend thousands of dollars on these cars, and that purchase history adds up to credibility when the need for refunds, or exchanges arise. In the days of "no questions asked" refund policies from the likes of the Costco's of the world, Summit follows suit.

I have a thirty year history, and thousands of separate purchases w/ Summit. That relationship has netted me huge savings at the face value of the parts, but more importantly, I have literally gotten amazing service from their customer service department. Literally, in the sometimes multiple years it takes to build a car I have been able to get a full refund or exchange from Summit on a part purchased three years before because that part was defective out of the box, and the supplier had gone out of business since that time.

Now I'm not saying that you have to buy from Summit, (though you'd be crazy not to) but you need to pick either them or Jegs and do yourself a favor and take advantage of their size to save yourself huge money.
The purchase history stays w/ them, and when the time comes that you need to ask for special considerations in a refund or exchange situation that purchase history becomes your friend.

When it comes to specific body style parts for your Mustang, then obviously you may have to go elsewhere. You still may may want to check w/ them first, the buyers at Summit keep adding product lines every single day. Wherever else you do have to go, If you are satisfied w/ your purchase, stay with that supplier so that you can build your relationship there as well.

Supplies.

Anybody that builds, or works on their car needs supplies. Different from parts, supplies may need to be something you only need specific to the build, consumables, or once in a blue moon.
What comes to mind when I refer to supplies is:
Steel/sheet metal.
Welding rods, wire, gasses, grinding wheels, flap discs.
Paint, body putty, sandpaper.
Doo dads, brass, nuts, bolts, washers.

Service
Service fits under the "everything else" genre.
It's where you go to have the stuff done that you can't do yourself.

Both of the "S" categories can be summed up under this broad brush stroke.
Relationships

Use your friends to find out if they know "a guy" in one of those businesses. Google the category and stand in amazement at all of the local shops that pop up if they don't. This forum is another source of referral for reputable business to start with.

I work w/ sheet metal all the time, yet I don't have a brake to bend it. Years ago I found this old guy that had owned his tin shop building stuff like HVAC ducts, and chimney caps for houses. When I went in there the first time, I needed the 18 gauge piece of aluminum bent that made up the rear wing spoiler of one of my past car projects. If he had the time to do it he would've did it right then and there, but he said if I left it he'd get it done by end of day. I wanted it now, but it was more important that I get it done, so I left it.

When I came back I got the part. And I talked w/ the guy. "How long have you been doing this?" I marveled at the monster brakes and shears, I just BS'd the guy for about 10 minutes. The next time I went in there, he did what I needed right there. Now everybody won't stand around and shoot the s ht w/ you like my guy did, And you kinda have to get a feel for whether or not this guy is too busy to stand around, but if he's by himself like this guy was most of the day, when you walk in there alot of times they'll talk because they want to. YOU just gotta make time for them if they do. They'll remember you next time if you take time to listen this time.

It doesn't matter what shop you find, whether it's a one man operation, or a parts counter, It's always good to go in and spend a minute talking w/ whoever's business you choose to patronize. The brass guy that I went into yesterday, made my first driveshaft for me back in 1990. He doesn't make my DS's for me anymore because I have found a guy I like better for it, but the brass guy remembers me, and he don't care that I don't come in once every three-5 years for a stupid driveshaft, he remembers me because I buy all this stupid brass.
Kurts Truck parts. Not just them, but any truck part shop. They have a huge selection of brass because they cater to the trucking industry, and trucks have air compressors on them that requires that all of that junk be stocked. When you go into an Autozone and they have 1 piece of brass marked at 4.69, two pieces in stock, and you need 12 of them, the fact that you have to drive 20 miles to find it all in one place for a couple of bucks less per piece makes it worth the drive. When it comes time to take back the surplus, and or exchange it, old counter dude might even tell you to take the exchanged stuff, and leave...no monies exchanged, no paperwork involved.

Every guy that builds a car needs steel. Wherever you go DO NOT go into Lowes or Home Depot to buy steel even though the sell it.
Your ass will bleed for days if you do.

If you have a Metal Supermarket then you're set. If you don't, see if there is a place like it (Again Jeeves, use Google) If not, there are now quite a few shops online that will cut, box, and ship just about anything you need, and it'll be there standing there waiting on you when you get home. In Birmingham, being a steel city, I have quite a few choices, and had always been using a guy downtown that sold surplus steel that sat outside under covered bins that had to be prepped before you could weld, or paint the stuff because it was so rusty. Once I discovered Metal Supermarket, that became my new supplier, and you can get ANYTHING there. Build a relationship w/ that guy, and you can build just about anything for a song.

Paint. Don't even buy a rattle can from AZ If you're gonna need anything more than one. The price difference between AZ, and HD alone for the same can of paint is sometimes as much as two dollars more at AZ. But I'm not endorsing either. If you have a project that needs more than that, from a simple detail job, to a panel repaint, to a complete re-paint job, you owe it to yourself to seek out a local automotive body supply shop and start doing business there. Ck into a couple of them first, because some of them will squarely stick you in the eye, but once you find the right place, even a rattle can should be cheaper, and alot of times the paint in their rattle cans is the "good stuff" (SEM for instance). Sand paper is way more plentiful, made for automotive use (yes there is a difference) There is a bounty of choices for body fillers (instead of just "Bondo") & glazing putties, and all of the other tools and applicators that you'll need.
Coming back around to Summit, they have every stinkin' thing I mentioned above. If you know what you need, you can completely source a complete base/clear repaint from them. So,.......Summit.

The bottom line to doing all of this if I haven't said it enough is to do a little legwork to find, and to build a relationship with the people inside once you've found a business you like. It helps to have a personality, and don't be afraid to talk to the guy that's helping you if that's who you are, and it looks like he has the time to talk. Building and modifying a car is expensive, I don't have to tell anybody that. The relationships you cultivate from the alternative business you take the time to find will more that make building or modifying the car a far less expensive ordeal.

That's all I have to offer.
 
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hoopty5.0

mechanicus terribilis
10 Year Member
Dec 14, 2010
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I agree wholeheartedly. I have lived around the same town in my 28 years and know a lot of the mechanics/machinists/parts store workers by name and they know me. Those relationships have saved me a lot of heartache and money.
 
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mikestang63

SN Certified Technician
Aug 27, 2012
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Good stuff Mike. I buy tons of parts from Summit and they have always had great service, tech support, fast shipping and match prices. Never had an issue with returning an item in 30 years. I also buy from LMRS, AM, Steeda, and a few others when Summit doesn't stock it.

I try and support the local mom and pop paint, hardware, and auto stores too. They are vanishing like the air though as they can't compete with the big chains. Funny but I'm actually ok with paying a little more if its with the little guy that's local as the money stays here vs going out of state or to China where they make goddam everything now.
 
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Boosted92LX

It's only an inch or two. What's the big deal?
10 Year Member
Dec 19, 2010
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I LOVE late model resto. LOVE. They have taken such good care of me I'll only use another mustang specific company if lrs doesn't offer the part, which has happened only once in two years. Some times when I had a problem with a part, they'd ship me another before I even sent the bad one back. Phenomenal company to deal with!
 

A5literMan

At least it is lumpy...
5 Year Member
Jul 30, 2011
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^^^ agree 100% I have never had a problem with summit in the 20+ years of doing business with them. LMR has also been top notch to deal with. I also try only use American companies and support local business. I used to be on a first name basis with the local parts stores and Ford service department. Most places would go out of their way for customer service if you treated them descently. The local ford dealership and a few parts stores have closed and it's harder to have personal relationships these days. We also had 2 hot rod/race shops/parts stores close after 40 years of business. The economic downturn a few years ago was to much for them to compete with Summit/Jegs etc. anymore. But a few of the guys still build/help with local racers/hot rod builders.
 
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84Ttop

They make new pistons every day, so why worry?
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I can't agree more about developing relationships with people and especially suppliers. Whether it is the parts house, machine shop, drive shaft guy, steel mill whatever, it is so important to know where you can get what and what to expect. I can't imagine going into building a car without having all of this lined up ahead of time. I'm on a first name basis with a few local parts houses, have 3 different machinists that are local all with a different specialty (one guy is an amazing cnc/lathe operator, one is an incredible race engine guy and the third does all of my ridiculous machining like my golf cart cylinder head, lol) we also have a killer steel mill that is 50 acres or better of the most obscure stuff that anyone can imagine, from surplus tools to chromoly plate and tubing. If I don't have things on hand, I know where to get it. If it is something that I can't do myself, I know who I can take it to and have it done
 

mikestang63

SN Certified Technician
Aug 27, 2012
11,291
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I can't agree more about developing relationships with people and especially suppliers. Whether it is the parts house, machine shop, drive shaft guy, steel mill whatever, it is so important to know where you can get what and what to expect. I can't imagine going into building a car without having all of this lined up ahead of time. I'm on a first name basis with a few local parts houses, have 3 different machinists that are local all with a different specialty (one guy is an amazing cnc/lathe operator, one is an incredible race engine guy and the third does all of my ridiculous machining like my golf cart cylinder head, lol) we also have a killer steel mill that is 50 acres or better of the most obscure stuff that anyone can imagine, from surplus tools to chromoly plate and tubing. If I don't have things on hand, I know where to get it. If it is something that I can't do myself, I know who I can take it to and have it done

Nick- curious- are Nitrous Pete and Joe Amato still around and have their shops?
 
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mikestang63

SN Certified Technician
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If we are talking about the same Joe Amato he is working for downs ford these days

30+ years ago Joe raced this in Top Fuel IHRA

80_D1_8A.jpg
 
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84Ttop

They make new pistons every day, so why worry?
5 Year Member
Jul 2, 2009
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Nick- curious- are Nitrous Pete and Joe Amato still around and have their shops?
Nitrous Pete is still in the game, he's in the Tom's river area if memory serves me correctly.
Amato, I can't say with any certainty.

Down in the southern Nj it's a whole different world [ insert deliverance emoji ]
 

jetmech807

10 Year Member
Dec 1, 2011
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Amato retired and he hired Darryl Russell, I believe was his name. The next season at St Louise, I believe, a tire let go, bad wreck. Killed young Mr Russell. Amato sold his team and got out of the business. Mrs Russell sued everyone she could think to sue. Not sure what became of the legal bs.