Past Parts Establised in 1988
Over the years we’ve seen cars come and go. Some cars, especially those with sports heritage or a prestige badge, quickly came to be regarded as classics, while other, less popular cars became classics due to age. Because of this, it’s rare to find a 30+ year old car that doesn’t have any following at all. Cars that we went on holiday in, cars that we admired from a distance, or even just our first car, bring back fantastic memories for people. And often it is these memories that lead to the purchase of a particular model of classic car.
Classic cars have always been popular, but recently we’ve seen a massive rise in demand for a wider range of classic cars, due partly to more enthusiasts in their 20s and 30s looking to buy cars they admired when they were younger. 1980s and 1990s cars such as VW Golfs, Ford Escort MK4s and Nissan Silvias are very popular now and with this comes an increased demand for parts which simply aren’t available any more.
For someone used to modern cars where every component is available from a comprehensive main dealer network or several aftermarket parts suppliers, the spares situation with some classic cars can be a major shock. While some popular classic cars survive in large enough numbers to justify expensive parts remanufacture for previously obsolete lines, others simply don’t, due to the lack of surviving vehicles. An alternative to trying to find a component which is rare as hens’ teeth is to have the old one reconditioned. And one of the longest established businesses in the sector is Suffolk–based Past Parts, the UKs biggest and oldest brake hydraulic reconditioning centre.
I recently had the opportunity to visit their factory and see for myself what’s going on behind the scenes. Straight away I was amazed. This definitely wasn’t a couple of blokes fiddling with a car in a shed. Past Parts was a full-blown factory with highly skilled enthusiasts busy restoring old brake components and giving them a second lease of life. Each of the four technicians works in one of three departments; namely one person each on servos and calipers, while two people work on cylinder machining and rebuilding. One of their processes involves boring the cylinder out on a purpose-built lathe, and pressing in a 316 grade stainless steel sleeve which takes care of any bore wear or corrosion. Once built up with new seals and other components you effectively have a new unit! The traditional methods used reminded me a lot of the innovative factories of the 1950s that made British cars famous around the world.
When you enter the factory, you are immediately struck by the long corridors, packed floor to ceiling with new old stock and reconditioned brake parts. Some of these are so old that I had never heard of the brands, and some are even in the original boxes with a commensurate layer of dust! There are approximately 60000 original equipment and restored parts available for over 50 different vehicle manufacturers.
If you need an obsolete old brake cylinder, a repair kit or simply a seal then Past Parts are the people to contact. It’s not just car hydraulics they work on either; Past Parts has completed restorations of brake and clutch cylinders for classic lorries, buses, tractors, motorcycles and older plant machinery. There’s not many old cylinders they can’t tackle and have seen and worked on most before.
It was so nice to see a traditional business like this still operating and thriving. Past Parts have hundreds of longstanding, loyal customers, who keep coming back for the good old-fashioned friendly service and quality products.
Dedicated enthusiasts and access to quality spare parts ensure that these older and classic cars can continue to be seen on the roads for many years to come – and if you have your braking system restored by Past Parts, you can be sure your car will stop as intended for many years to come.
If you want to see it yourself, Past Parts offers regular free pre-bookable open evenings, usually on the second Tuesday of the month, giving specialists, car clubs and individual enthusiasts the chance to visit their stores and see the engineering processes they use at first hand. The next dates are 9th April and 7th May. To reserve a place, call them on 01284 750729.