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¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
6/6/17 11:55 a.m.

Let's say, theoretically, you were trying to make money parting out cars- you get them through Copart, or craigslist, probably with damage and a branded or absent title, disassemble them, and sell the bits. What would be the most profitable? Parting out common commuters that the masses need components for? Exotics? Somewhere in between?

I think the money is probably in models that are the best version of whatever chassis they are on, since parts would be an upgrade for owners of lesser versions- think Z06s, M3s, and similar. What does the hive think? Has anybody here actually tried to make real income this way?

Blaise
Blaise Reader
6/6/17 12:00 p.m.

I worked for a company which is very profitable doing exactly this.

Since its their business and I'm no longer supplying to them I won't break down their model. However, I will say that this is only profitable if you're dynamic. The market shifts regularly. Your bread and butter items can drop out overnight. Other items can skyrocket insanely quickly especially if you control the supply. I went from making $1000/day to nothing over the course of a few months when items that were freely available to me dropped by over 50% in sale price.

You've got to be constantly competing with others who are carefully watching what you're selling and try to undercut you. It's a big game.

Also, you gotta get some people to do the legwork... it's a LOT of manual labor. My friend didn't start making the big bucks until he hired 8 people.

Happy to answer more general questions. Not going to break down what they sell but you could figure it out pretty quickly if you go on ebay.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
6/6/17 12:12 p.m.

In reply to Blaise:

Interesting... I wouldn't think that things like engines or transmissions could suddenly fluctuate in value like you're talking about, but could totally see it if something like an NLA piece of bodywork suddenly had aftermarket options. Is there an example you can give of a type of part or vehicle which was more volatile vs one that was more stable? I'm not looking for a business model or anything, just interested in the economics of it.

Blaise
Blaise Reader
6/6/17 12:15 p.m.

Engines and transmissions are not usually profitable. Think electrical components.

You've gotta figure out what parts are failing, how to diagnose/test/repair them, then figure out which one of those parts have very low supply and high demand. Makes difference between a $40-60 computer and a $800 one.

Hit the market hard and you've got a few months of making good money. Then everybody else catches on. Repeat.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
6/6/17 12:23 p.m.

In reply to Blaise:

So... like a much better version of the time I bought all of the turbo Saab ECUs in the junkyard on $1 part day.

Engines and transmissions I could see not turning a profit- I remember being surprised that the engine, trans, and differential in the wrecked Viper a friend purchased were easily worth more than he paid for the car, but probably not by much if you had to pay people to extract them.

Blaise
Blaise Reader
6/6/17 12:32 p.m.

Also storage, shipping, etc. It gets real tough. And you gotta invest capital. Gotta build business connections. Find buyers. International buyers.

This is a real business. It's complicated. Few people turn a decent profit.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
6/6/17 12:34 p.m.

Another option is to simply find a make/ model you have a sort of passion for, and develop a following within the community, etc. Less likely to be an income you can live off of, but a much better hobby, and you'll tend to meet like-minded people and actually enjoy it.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
6/6/17 12:57 p.m.

In my area, chevy trucks are hot. I made decent money buying titleless parts cars, and parting for pull a part prices. Or "make me a good offer" prices.

Had to buy them right, though, and value my time at 0.

LuxInterior
LuxInterior HalfDork
6/6/17 1:08 p.m.

Seems like a hard way to make money unless you already have warehouse full of old 911s

SEADave
SEADave HalfDork
6/6/17 1:17 p.m.

Do you have land and/or live somewhere without a nosey homeowner's association? If so, you could give it a try.

I agree with VCH, stick with what you know. If there is a car you own, belong to the forums, etc., I bet you know what people need, what isn't reproduced, is hard to find in good condition, etc.

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
6/6/17 1:20 p.m.

I've been thinking about this more and more. As an individual this is how I think it would work best. Keeping an open mind from car to car would work better than concentrating on a specific model. Buy mid-range and up cars, look at completed auction prices on eBay, post only the items that sell for over $50/ea. Pull those items, organize them well, and scrap the shell so you don't have an eyesore for your neighbors to complain about. Post the items, and be sure to ship fast, and keep an eye on your shipping costs. But, net of shipping I came up with $8000 in parts I could sell from a 2001 GS430. It might have been optimistic on time involvement, but I was basing the parts sale prices on actual completed items from eBay.

I think you could make a few thousand dollars a month from 5-10 hours a week of work, but you need to treat it as a business and a real part time job. Put the hours in or you'll have a ton of crap laying around and it'll be hard to get motivation to keep the stuff moving. Keep your work area clean and organized! Have a dedicated photo and pack/ship area, and keep it spotless, or you'll always be spending a half hour moving crap around before being able to list or ship something.

The stuff that sells might surprise you. Door computer modules, ECUs, electric door lock/latch modules, window motors, TCUs, all the little fiddly bits that go bad and are so expensive from the dealer.

I'm gearing up to start my first real part-out in years, and I'll start a thread on it. I don't think, as an individual, competition is an issue. Yes prices have a race to the bottom tendency but you're not going to be parting out hundreds of cars a year. Even just one a month would swamp an individual's ability to keep up working part time. At those numbers you're not even a blip on the radar for the competition.

I have no plans to start parting out cars regularly but I think it would be a really fun part-time retirement gig. Something to fund the car hobbies and racing with. With two young kids and a job and a big house to care for there's no way I'm going to do this often!!

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
6/6/17 1:22 p.m.

I once made a pretty good buck by reproducing front cornering lenses for 1967 Imperials. These were Chrysler's top end model. I bought a rare, pristine NOS set for $200 each, and sent them off to a plastic shop to "clone" them. Cost was about $50 per lens. Then I sold them for $199 for a set of two- half what an NOS set cost. It was a one-year-only part, and no one else made them. Sold out within a year or so- it was a small production run, a few dozen lenses. When I got rid of my '67 Imperial I still had one or two sets left, and they went with the car.

Blaise
Blaise Reader
6/6/17 1:36 p.m.
dculberson wrote: The stuff that sells might surprise you. Door computer modules, ECUs, electric door lock/latch modules, window motors, TCUs, all the little fiddly bits that go bad and are so expensive from the dealer.

Or especially these items once they're not available from the dealer at all.

RossD
RossD UltimaDork
6/6/17 1:36 p.m.

There was a 10 year old Maserati quattroporte for $20k that looked in good shape. I thought you could probably make money selling everything but the engine and trans and still have a sweet drivetrain swap ready for your waiting vessel.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
6/6/17 1:37 p.m.

See in this thread what I wrote about two 20-somethings near me that are living the dream parting out motorcycles.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
6/6/17 1:39 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Bikes are nice and small too... I could specialize in Buells since I love the things and it appears they're out of production for good this time.

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
6/6/17 1:41 p.m.

As another example, I looked at a Celica GT-S as a 2zz drivetrain donor for my MR2 spyder and found that I could sell about $6500 in parts from it not counting the engine and ecu. That's gross - you're going to have $650 in eBay fees, ~$250 in PayPal fees, and any free shipping you offer on parts. (Sometimes you just gotta offer free shipping to get the stuff sold.) Call it net around $5,000, without having sold the best part of the car. ;-)

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
6/6/17 1:41 p.m.

If you can buy the Buels cheap enough, you'll kill it.

The last car I had shipped in from FL via Uship also had a wrecked motorcycle on board the trailer to go to these local guys. The diver picked it up at Copart Atlanta.

Also nice on bikes, not a lot of rusty bullsh!t.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
6/6/17 1:45 p.m.
LuxInterior wrote: Seems like a hard way to make money unless you already have warehouse full of old 911s

This is my view of the whole thing...it can be done, but there are probably a lot easier ways to make money.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad PowerDork
6/6/17 1:49 p.m.

It'd have to be a model that isn't owned by tightwads and cheapskates. So Miatas are off the table

I once thought that the collection of parts in my Allroad would have brought an easy 100K if I completely disassembled it, but then there were only about 15,000 ever built so the buyers would be thin on the ground.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
6/6/17 1:52 p.m.
stuart in mn wrote:
LuxInterior wrote: Seems like a hard way to make money unless you already have warehouse full of old 911s
This is my view of the whole thing...it can be done, but there are probably a lot easier ways to make money.

Like hookers and blow.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UltraDork
6/6/17 1:55 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote:
stuart in mn wrote:
LuxInterior wrote: Seems like a hard way to make money unless you already have warehouse full of old 911s
This is my view of the whole thing...it can be done, but there are probably a lot easier ways to make money.
Like hookers and blow.

He said "make it", not "spend it".

klodkrawler05
klodkrawler05 Reader
6/6/17 1:58 p.m.

I spent about 2 years parting out e36's, my primary goal was to build an s52 swapped e30.

I sort of got into it accidentally. I had an e30, I bought an e36m3 as a donor, sold off lots of the M3 specific bits to non M3 owners as well as a surprising amount of odd little bits and bobs. Just about the time I was ready to swap the engine into my car a friend wound up needing an engine for his m3 so I sold the engine (the sole part I kept)

That led to needing a new engine so I found another cheap s52 engine e36 m3, this time the car was an automatic, so I parted the whole car out except the engine, then I found a manual s50 obd1 e36 m3 that was a manual, I sold everything except the transmission and wiring bits required to make my s52 a manual obd1 car and then swapped the mis-match of stuff into my e30.

I can see what Blaise would be referring too with volatility though. During the time I was parting the cars out we could pretty regularly find an e36 m3 in some manner of needing work and never paid more than $2000 for an M3. In our area now they're starting to become collectible so it's impossible to find one for less than $3k in any condition. Meanwhile the e30 enthusiast core has started figuring out the newer engines and prices are dropping on those meaning the e36 S5X motors that used to be easy $1500-2000 sale in any condition you can't give away in our area even for $750-1000. Cost of whole car up, price of parts down doesn't make for a good business.

Additionally competition, When I started parting them I was about the only person on the local pages doing so, had lots of people that became friends buy parts or hit me up any time they needed a part. Eventually the more enterprising amongst them started parting cars too. That led everybody to lower prices and made it harder to easily break even on the cars. You can still do it to be sure but it's a bit more than selling the quick easy bits off the car. You've gotta use forums and ebay and sell every bit and piece. Not worth it for me any longer.

NEALSMO
NEALSMO UltraDork
6/6/17 2:04 p.m.

A low risk way to get in the business is just work as a middle man at a pull-your-part. If you have a good idea what their inventory is you could buy parts as they are sold.

I know a guy who owns a Volvo specific yard that also works on them. Nowadays most of the money coming in is from repairs. Instead of spending capital on buying wrecked cars and storing them, they just use the inventory from the adjacent Ecology yard. They call it their "warehouse".

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
6/6/17 2:07 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: In reply to John Welsh : Bikes are nice and small too... I could specialize in Buells since I love the things and it appears they're out of production for good this time.

Ding! I think something like this needs to partly be a labor of love.

I've thought about this a bit. I'd do new MINI's. It helps it's a car I know fairly well and I know certain options could have value in the used market that may not be obvious to a typical breaker.

For example, R52 convertible tops were available in a few different colors, but some of those colors are difficult or impossible to get replacements for now, so a good used version could be valuable to someone wishing to keep their car original.

But in the end, I simply like the little cars and have an interest in keeping future cars on the road. I know there are more than a few R50/52/53 owners who are like my ex- and plan to keep their cars until they die, even if they buy something newer to take off DD pressure (like my ex- did buying a ND and a Jeep GC).

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