SEMA report: More than $1B in aftermarket classic car parts sold last year

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A report released Friday by SEMA said classic car parts accounted for more than $1 billion in aftermarket sales in 2017. | Instagram photo/@semashow)
A report released Friday by SEMA said classic car parts accounted for more than $1 billion in aftermarket sales in 2017. | Instagram photo/@semashow)

About $1.09 billion in aftermarket parts were purchased for classic cars in 2017, a report from the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association released Friday said.

The 82-page report said classics — defined as cars older than model year 1973 — accounted for 3 percent of the overall market but bring in about 10 percent of total internal engine product sales. SEMA defines internal engine products as camshafts, cylinder heads, pistons, cooling products and similar items.

A breakdown of classic car sales showed 20 percent of that $1.09 billion was spent on intake, fuel and exhaust systems.

A further 36 percent was split evenly between suspension, brake, steering, internal engine, cooling and drivetrain parts.

Classic car owners turned most to specialty retailers when looking for parts, as those businesses accounted for 44 percent of all sales last year. More than 30 percent of that was online.

That was followed by automotive chains, which accounted for 15 percent of classic parts business.

In that sense, the classic car market went against the current. More than 60 percent of all parts purchased last year were bought from a physical outlet.

“The in-store experience continues to shine as nearly two thirds of dollars are spent in brick-and-mortar channels,” the report said. “While online hasn’t taken over the industry, the digital world continues to be an important platform for consumers to research and purchase parts.”

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Overall, aftermarket part sales totaled $43 billion last year, making it one of the best years since the Great Recession.

“With a robust global economy, reduced tax and regulatory burdens, a weaker U.S. dollar, and a tightening labor market, the United States enjoyed and continues to enjoy a thriving economic environment,” the report said.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Not a comment… a question: Are there any NOS suppliers of parts for pre-war Packards? And if so, how do I contact them? Thanks for any help.

  2. I have a 1977 Montcarlo and some other older cars; like 68 390 ford etc. How do I go about selling them? They are project cars but nothing has been taken off from them – they are complete. I have been looking for some parts for 85 Nisan sport car. Could you help me with how I go about selling my cars at a good price. I don’t want to have them go to a lot where they take off the parts and sell them. My husband was planning on working on them when he retired but passed away. That is why I have the cars/trucks from my fathers estate too. Thank you. I enjoy reading about the old cars.

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