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I keep reading "Does Mustang parts seller company XX bumpers fit?" or "Should I get my seat covers from Mustangs of X or Mustangs of Y", when, instead, it seems the question should be: What MANUFACTURER makes the best bumper, seats, etc., and then ask what retailer carrys that brand for the best net price. It's like asking should I buy a car from the Ford dealer, Chevy Dealer, or Chrysler dealer, rather than what Make/Model car to buy.

What am I missing?

Comsumer Reports tests and rates a products listed by manufacturer, not, well we are testing a bunch of toasters we bought at various stores, without telling who made the toasters.

If I say, "Hey, when I bought my reverse defragimodulator, and I bought it from Mustang's X" there is no guarantee that Mustang's X still carries that part made by the same manufacturer. They may have switched to another source that may or may not have the same quality/fit standards.

Where am I missing the boat?
 

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I agree, one needs to check the maker of the part not the seller per se.

John Harvey
 

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I have always thought that. I have ignored answering any of those type questions about what dealer sells the best XX, as opposed to what manufacturer.

Along those lines, it would be really nice if the dealer's include the manufacturer of each product in their catalogs, that way it would be easy to compare reverse defragimodulators to reverse defragimodulators.
 

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Those are generally noob questions. People new to this hobby often think that Mustang shops are manufacturers, when in reality 95% are strictly retailers / resellers. It also may be old knowledge, passed down. Back in the early days, many of the Mustang shops did manufacture their own parts. FWIW, Mustnags Unlimited had a sheetmetal shop across the parking lot that made many of their structural parts (floors, rails, etc). I did a stint at their warehouse one summer, I still have scars from those floorpans.... :pissed:

There are different BRANDS of parts that one may fit better than another, that is the question they learn to ask after being on the forum for a very short time, from people who are helpful enough to set them on the right course....
 

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I got into the Mustang parts and restorations business in 1982 and have done business with most of the actual makers and distributors of parts. Before that, I worked the parts department at a major Ford dealership for about five years. I have seen a lot of companies come and go over the years and sold and/or installed a lot of original, aftermarket replacement and reproduction parts.

One thing you must keep in mind is that the composition and quality of parts varies over time even from specific companies. Because of this, I hate to recommend one maker over another. For example, for 18 years I sold and installed Distinctive brand upholstery because I found it to be generally the best product out there. I had tried other brands and installed other makes that my customers had brought in, but I prefered Distinctive because of its fit and construction. However, like any other upholstery maker, Distinctive had several places it bought the raw vinyl from and sometimes certain colors and patterns were hard to get. When Uniroyal stopped making the original Naugahyde vinyl (like used on original seat covers), the market was never the same. Good vinyl stretches one way but not the other and so has to be sewn in the right direction. Some vinyl wouldn't stretch properly or had a very thin vinyl color layer. I could get two sets of identical year upholstery at the same time and the fabric would be made of different vinyls. Still, I personally prefer Distinctive brand covers, but I know that they do vary over time.

The same is true with many other parts, especially sheet metal and fiberglass parts. The quality of parts literally varies from ship container to ship container or mold batch to mold batch. A Mustang shop can order certain parts from one single maker and get a shipment of great fitting valances one month and get a poor fitting shipment the next. It isn't always the stores fault that you got a poor reproduction part from them, it may have been made by a regularly good supplier that just had a bad batch of parts.

All the above also holds true for genuine Ford parts. I would be willing to bet that very few places that made the original Mustang parts continued to make the replacement parts for Ford for very long. Even ORIGINAL factory installed parts. You have all seen posts where someone complains about installing a fender, hood or headlamp extension on their car and it didn't fit well, if at all. This could be true about reproduction parts or original parts. Nothing fits everything the same way. If you went to a major Mustang show and took 10 Mustangs that still had their original factory installed fenders and headlamp assemblies on them, and removed them and tried to fit the pieces onto other cars, guess what, a whole bunch of them wouldn't fit very well. It was just the way the cars and parts were made. Remember, when Ford built the Mustang, they had to break a record number of assembly rules to build them. There is a reason you don't see cars with metal castings on all four corners any more. They are hard to make fit well over a production run.

The Mustang mail-order business has gotten very cut-throat over the years. While this competition has brought prices down for the average Mustang owner, it has also caused a lot of inferior products to be made and sold. Many good companies that paid to have molds and tooling made overseas for their own brand products, have seen the makers sell the worn tooling to someone else who continues to reproduce a poor fitting, poor quality part. Some stores sell a lot of poor quality parts in order to have the lowest prices. While pricing is not a perfect indicator of a parts quality, when there is more than one make or design of a certain product, the higher priced piece will generally be the better quality.

I sold my Mustang shop several years ago and I know the market has changed a lot since then. At one time I could tell you exactly who made the best specific part out of all the rest. That isn't true anymore and why I hesitate to answer to threads asking about quality recommendations - I just don't have the up-to-date experience anymore. But I can make these recommendations:

1) When buying sheet metal or body parts, how it fits your car depends a LOT on how the part just happens to match the neighboring parts on your specific car than on price and manufacturer alone. A repro may fit fine and a Ford may not fit at all. Or the other way around. Every dang Mustang is different. Generally original and Ford tooling parts will fit better, but they may not fit as well as you would like.
2) Fiberglass body parts will vary GREATLY, even from one specific maker, You can count on having to have any fiberglass piece worked and fitted to go on your car. The reality of "bolt-on and forget it" fiberglass body parts is much worse than with sheet metal.
3) Scott Drake is probably the biggest maker of Mustang parts there is. They sell a lot of other peoples parts, but they also make a lot of their own parts or have them exclusively made for them. They probably have more parts made here in the USA than most manufacturers. They really try to make a good quality part, and it shows. PRO Products was also such a company, and when they closed, all their tooling went to Drake. That is why PRO/Drake repro 65/66 style steel wheels fit factory disc brake cars and other peoples wheels don't.
4) Over the years I tried installing evry brand of rubber weatherstripping made for the Mustang, including Ford pieces. I found that all weatherstripping made by Daniel Carpenter was the best on the market, even better than Ford.
5) When you buy the upholstery and door panels and such for your Mustang, get them all from the same place. I can't tell you how many cars I have seen with a ghastly assortment of shades in their car because they pieces the interior together do to low price and not consistant vinyl color.
6) Use common sense when buying suspension, steering and brake components. Low price is not your objective here. Not all name-brand parts are made in the USA, but they are generally made to higher standards. This is not the area to settle for cheaper, low-quality parts.

On a more personal note - please consider doing business with a small or local Mustang shop. I have nothing against the big mail-order powerhouses, in fact, I do rebuilding for a number of them. But having owned and operated a local Mustang shop for twelve years, I know that a small shop can offer helpful advice and exceptional service that can be worth a lot when building up a car. The prices may not always be the lowest you can find, but there is something to be said for the advantages of a personable local business. Just because Joe's Mustang wants $10 more for a carpet set than Biggie Mustang Warehouse, doesn't mean that Joe is trying to screw anybody on price. Joe just can't buy 100 carpets sets at one time, like the big guys, or Joe may be selling a superior product from a different maker than Biggest. But Joe will probably give you good advice on installing that carpet and work with you if there is a problem.

My $ 0.02
 

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I agree about the noob part. But not everyone has the same amount of experience on this forum and the hobby in general. I think if a response to a noob includes the manufacturer and / or supplier, that is the most helpful to them.

After they go through the process (restoration, repair or whatever), they'll be more experienced about what they're doing and ask more specific questions.

Just have some patience and remember that everyone has to start somewhere. I've only been on the VMF for a year and it can be pretty intimidating to stick your neck out there with a post wondering how it's going to be scrutinized by the members of this forum.

From my perspective, everyone has been awesome and extremely helpful here. And because of everyone's help, I have learned and continue to learn a ton! :highfive:
 

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stanger53

very well said and thanks for the insight.
 

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White Elephant Guy
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Excellent insight on this whole topic. If vendors would include the manufacturer of the parts it would help everyone out.
 
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