Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
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Where Are My Parts?
By Brian Brennan

’m sure all of us thought 2020 was going to be a disastrous year—and it was on many levels—yet somewhere in our “storm cloud” there was a glimmer of hope. At the same time, those of us here at In The Garage Media have managed to keep the car magazine print (and digital) industry going forward, thankfully to you our readers and supporters. At the same time many hot rod parts manufacturers and builders thought it too would be a hard year, which it was, but overall, it has proven to be a favorable year for the industry.

Look overhead at the storm clouds and I believe you will see the silver lining. Our industry’s silver lining makes its presence known in Modern Rodding’s continued success and that virtually every manufacturer I speak to tells me 2020 turned out to be an “up” rather than a “down” year. Manufacturers and builders alike tell me that business was robust for 2020 and as they charged into 2021 business was looking even better. Every cloud apparently does have a silver lining.


Turns out everyone, and I mean everyone, worldwide took several steps back as 2020 began to reveal itself in the midst of the pandemic. And while I’m sure all of us would agree that was a prudent move that very few predicated or could have understood the ramifications of what was to come next.

Of the top 20 U.S. companies based on revenue, and you would recognize all of them, there were only four that had what we would call a down year (if you can call GM making $137 million a down year in the 19th position). All four “losers” were either a petroleum or an automotive manufacturer. Not surprising when you realize how much each of us restricted our driving, thus creating the subsequent drop in gasoline as well as new car and truck purchases. I’m guessing profits will once again be flowing for these “unfortunate” ones in the upcoming year.

Interestingly, you only had to look to three sectors that dominated the Top 20 Most Profitable: electronics, technology, and financial. And for those who believe in diversity, the most profitable company this past year was Berkshire Hathaway listed as a “conglomerate.”

But there are other issues to take note. In my continuing talks with manufacturers and builders there are two “sticking points” that arise. “Where are the raw materials?” and “Where are my parts?” Manufacturers, or their suppliers, need raw materials, and right now there seems to be an acute shortage of raw materials. Without these precious raw materials there are no parts. Listen to the news and see how Detroit is doing rounding up the computer chips it needs for its new cars and trucks? Right now, everyone knows where the chips are but getting them is the bugaboo. This shortage is causing the “supply and demand” to be knocked out of kilter. When demand is high and supplies are high everyone wins. When demand is high and supplies are low it may benefit some but the end result is market frustration and then bad things happen. The last thing any manufacturer in our industry wants to see happen are customers move to other sources or become frustrated and move onto something else!

In the meantime, rodders everywhere have found this abundance of time on their hands and are building at a prodigious rate. In fact, I would say that there are more hot rods currently being built than at any time in our history. Powerful words for sure but the evidence is proving this to be true. Manufacturers are backordered and, hence, you, the at-home builder, have seen the backorder list for parts continue to grow. Manufacturers oftentimes have told me they would be able to move their best products within a week, or as quickly as 48 hours or less. And the larger mailorder houses are very proud of their same-day shipping. Well, that all appears to be taking a back seat right now as wait times have rapidly grown to 8 to 12 weeks. And truthfully, where oversees components are critical, these wait times are now taking longer. In the overall scheme of things maybe that doesn’t seem like a long wait but if you think of it as how does that interrupt your build time you begin to see what should have taken a week now takes three months. You are now faced with increasing build times from the two to four years that it typically takes and doubling it. That can eventually lead to many “throwing in the towel” and looking for another hobby. We do not need that to happen.

What needs to happen to get our industry healthy? There are a number of things but making sure our manufacturers have plenty of qualified labor is a good starting point. As we get back to full employment in all sorts of industries across the country, the trickle-down effect will help us tremendously.

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 12 • 2021