OPGI’s “New” 1987 Buick Grand National Comes Home

The latest addition to OPGI’s fleet of perfectly restored GM classics needed no restoration work at all. With just 9,797 miles on the odometer, this 1987 Buick Grand National was delivered to OPGI in better-than-excellent condition. The purchase included everything but that “New Car Smell” from 30 years ago.

In addition to the primary business of supplying and manufacturing restoration and high-performance parts for classic GM cars, Original Parts Group Inc. (OPGI) also maintains its own fleet of restored cars for in-house parts testing and use as display vehicles in advertising, at trade shows, car shows and other special events. Of course, it goes without saying that all of OPGI’s classic cars have been completely restored to the highest degree of original authenticity using OPGI parts. Every car in the OPGI fleet has its own story to tell, and the most recent addition to the fleet has proven no different in that respect.

Original Parts Group acquires its cars in many different ways. After purchase, some cars are rebuilt from the ground up, while others might be purchased in nearly totally restored condition. However, most of the time it’s somewhere in the middle. OPGI buys cars that are partially built and proceeds to build them some more. The procedure for a full rebuild of an OPGI classic usually involves sending a car out for a full-frame-off restoration and drivetrain rebuild. Of course, OPGI supplies all of the restoration parts and related accessories needed for each restoration/transformation job, but work on the engines, transmissions, and final paint and body work is usually handled by outside partners or suppliers.

Today, we would like to introduce the latest addition to OPGI’s fleet of classics with the 1987 Buick Grand National (GN) you see displayed here. With the upcoming release of OPGI’s tenth and newest annual parts catalog aimed at Buick Regal variants and the 2017 SEMA Show looming large in the not-too-distant future, OPGI’s “new” car this year just had to be a Buick Grand National. However, unlike the majority of the cars in the OPGI fleet, this Grand National did not need a rebuild of any kind, or any new parts at all for that matter. That’s one of the perks when you buy a 30-year-old car with less than 10K miles.

When was the last time you saw a 30-year-old set of GM car keys in this condition?

Several months ago, Casey Mohr and Tony Giroux of the OPGI Sourcing Team were tasked with finding a nice clean Grand National that could be restored back to original specs and performance. Making that task difficult was the fact that Buick didn’t make too many of these cars in the first place, and the ones they did make seem to have already been snapped-up by savvy purchasers who know that their cars are both rare and desirable these days. They are also immensely fun to drive, thanks to the turbo-charged 3.8L V6 putting out 235 hp and 330 lb-ft. of torque. At the time, the 1987 GN was one of the quickest cars on the road and performance enthusiasts could not help but notice that the little turbo V6 allowed quarter-mile times that were faster than the latest V8-powered Chevrolet Camaros of the day.

After scouring the “Grand National For Sale” ads in all the usual  (and some unusual) places, it looked like Casey and Tony were going to have to make at least several different road trips to examine and hopefully purchase one of the handful of cars available that met most of our requirements. Unfortunately for the Sourcing guys, the best cars were strung across the country from west to east, and many were scattered at points up and down the East Coast from New York to Florida. Then, as if by providence, Tony discovered a clean, low mileage GN listed for sale in the San Francisco/Bay area Craigslist. The pieces of a deal were starting to fall into place when Casey volunteered that he had a friend in the Bay Area who might be able to examine and photograph the car for them, negating the need for an initial trip to San Francisco. Perfect.

The first batch of photographs sent to OPGI concerning the purchase of the car included this small but very important detail photo of the GN’s odometer showing the mileage to be just 9,797 miles. The passage of over 30 years time is not apparent anywhere on this car.

Casey’s friend Drew Alexy from the little town of Danville, California met with the car’s owner (Tarek Mohamed), took over 75 photographs, and then forwarded them to Casey along with a general, glowing report on the car. In real estate deals, brokers often tout the main feature of a house as being “Location, location, location!” When it came to Drew’s initial report on the desirability of Tarek’s Grand National, he could have saved some time by simply shouting “Mileage, mileage, mileage!” The figure of  9,797 miles means that this entire Grand National has an odd sort of time capsule status about it.  Other than a few very minor details involving the passage of a few decades, this GN is “right off the showroom floor” and nearly brand new in many important ways, both inside and out.

Upon further examination and negotiation, the mileage was verified by service receipts and a deal was struck. The 1987 Buick Grand National formerly belonging to Tarek Mohamed of Oakland, California would now belong to Original Parts Group, Inc. Because this car and absolutely every part on it are nearly in brand new condition, it requires no lengthy rebuild and can be pressed into service in the OPGI test fleet right away after a quick general tune-up and the addition of fresh fluids and perhaps some new tires as well. The paint is original, the tires and brakes are original, and there is no wear on the seating surfaces at all. And the turbocharged V6 is very strong! This car is as close to a brand new 1987 Grand National as it gets.  Even the ignition keys look oddly “clean” without marks or wear on them of any kind. The less than 10K on the odometer indicates not even enough miles to properly break the car in. Despite its age, it is a new car in many ways.

Bringing home the bacon. Caser Mohr and Tony Giroux from OPGI’s Sourcing Department were tasked with a nationwide hunting trip that ended with the successful capture of a fully-mature Buick Grand National with a youthful 9,797 miles on the odo. Here the team gasses up Tony’s Silverado at a Shell station off the 5 Freeway outside of Kettleman City, California, a place that Casey described as “The Actual Middle of Nowhere.”

Despite some dust, light rain and squashed bugs, the Grand National arrived back at OPGI Headquarters no worse for the wear….and the mileage on the odometer stayed exactly the same.

All parties agreed to all terms and conditions, and the last remaining bit of business was to physically go up to the Bay Area, put the car on a trailer, and take it home to OPGI Headquarters in Seal Beach. Casey and Tony agreed to finish what they had started and Tony even volunteered the use of his own Duramax-equipped Silverado to haul the OPGI trailer and the Grand National back to Seal Beach. The “new” OPGI Grand National is a beauty, and even though it was “all the way up” in the Bay Area, that’s a lot better than driving to Jacksonville, Florida and back to secure it. Something like that that would have been an unpopular “ride to remember” for sure!  For Casey and Tony, the actual trek was not too bad and the duo didn’t even have to stay at bad motels thanks to the hospitality of Casey’s Aunt and Uncle who live in the small town of San Ramon near the Bay Area. Staying with Casey’s relatives at least assured that their road trip would include good food, clean beds and good company!

Look for more coverage of OPGI’s “new” Grand National coming up soon. The car will be appearing in both Web and print advertising, and with the 2017 SEMA Show coming up in just a few months, the Grand National will make an appearance there, too!

Always looking ahead. It looks like Tony is already prepping OPGI’s new Grand National for an upcoming display or show venue.

Shop for restoration parts at www.opgi.com.

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Industry News, New Products

OPGI’s Top 5 Tech Tips: Sheet Metal Installation


It’s a pretty good bet that when you restore a vehicle, no matter the make, sheet metal work will be in your future. It’s becoming pretty rare to find a classic car out there that is rust free or in no need of any panel repair. Obviously, this is a factor when shopping for your next restoration project. If you choose a brand that has a plentiful supply of restoration parts available and you have the equipment, you can pick something that is in rougher shape. You can rest easy knowing that sheet metal parts such as floor and trunk pans, quarter panels and fenders are available. That being said however, sheet metal work does take skill and practice, even if it seems as straightforward as cutting a rusty panel out and replacing it with an identical new panel. If this sounds like something you would like to tackle, the following five tech tips will give you some pointers on successful panel replacement.

Click here to shop OPGI’s  selection of sheet metal.

OPGI’s Top 5 Tech Tips: Sheet Metal Installation

#1. Seek professional help. If this is the first time you have attempted to replace or repair sheet metal on your project, seek professional help. Do not start cutting on your car without researching what is involved and the equipment required. The internet has become an excellent resource in the form of forums, dedicated websites and thousands of Youtube videos that show step by step instructions. The number one best help to have is a person who has successfully replaced body panels looking over your shoulder – guiding and giving pointers.

#2. Do not start cutting until you have the replacement panel as a reference. One of the biggest mistakes amateurs make when replacing panels is cutting away the old sheet metal before having the new panel as a reference. It’s very easy to cut away too much and then be left with gaps you will have to fill. Remember, not every square inch of sheet metal may be available and cutting into an area where there isn’t a replacement patch or panel to be had will require some fabricating.

#3. Be careful not to warp the metal when welding. When welding sheet metal, be mindful of how much heat is being put into a single spot. Jump around the seam while tacking and let the weld cool before moving back to a previously welded area. This will ensure even heat distribution and limit the chance of any of the metal warping.

#4. Have the right tools available. When replacing sheet metal, it makes all the difference in the world to have the right tools available. Not only is it more efficient, it’s also much less stressful. Cut-off wheels, grinders, spot weld drills, chisels, magnets, measuring tools and of course safety equipment are all essential in replacing body panels correctly the first time.

#5. Support the body when changing structural panels. Before an entire floor pan is cut out and removed, especially in a convertible, it’s necessary to reinforce the rest of the body by welding pieces of metal from the cowl to the door striker area and from side to side. This will maintain the structural rigidity of the body and ensure it won’t collapse in on itself before the new pan is welded in.


#1 Seek professional help


#2. Do not start cutting until you have the replacement panel as a reference


#3. Be careful not to warp the metal when welding


#4. Have the right tools available


#5. Support the body when changing structural panels

Shop for restoration parts at www.opgi.com.

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Posted in Uncategorized

OPGI’s Top 5 Tech Tips: Cooling System

The cooling system is one of the most important parts of any vehicle. It requires regular inspection and maintenance of all the components to ensure optimum performance. At heart of the cooling system is the radiator. This wonderful invention is responsible for cooling the engine coolant and maintaining system temperatures. Bigger engines, higher horsepower and air conditioning will quickly find the limit of an inadequately sized radiator or poorly maintained components. Even a small failure will have you on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Use the following five tech tips to help you keep your car on the road and your cooling system happy.

OPGI’s Top 5 Tech Tips: Cooling System

#1. Make sure that your current radiator or new radiator is the adequate size for your particular application. A radiator that is too small for any application will not provide adequate cooling especially if you plan on having air conditioning. Engine size, power output and accessories will dictate what radiator you should run. For example, using a radiator for a 6-cylinder car that has a 500 hp big-block swap will be inadequate. Call OPGI at 800-243-8355 and we’ll help you determine the correct radiator for your car.

#2. Check to make sure your radiator is not clogged. Symptoms of this are overheating while at freeway speeds, but normal operating temps when driving around town. Visually inspect the core of the radiator. Are the fins excessively beat up or blocked with debris? Make sure the exterior of the radiator is clean and not damaged. Open the radiator cap and look inside; can you see excessive build-up of deposits on the tubes? Using a radiator flush may help depending on how bad the build-up is. Also, use an infrared thermometer and check the temps at different spots on the radiator. If the results are wildly different from one spot to the next, that could also indicate a blockage.

#3. A properly operating thermostat is essential. Sometimes the coolest thermostat is not always better, so make sure you have one that fits your needs. If your application requires a 195° thermostat, then use it. Never run your vehicle without a thermostat, which could lead to drivability issues.

#4. Fan shrouds are essential to cooling system performance. When these cars were built, they were designed to be used with the correct fan shroud and fan. Make sure that the shroud is not missing or cracked and that the fan does not have any damage. If using electric fans, make sure the air flow (CFM) is enough to provide an adequate amount cool air through the radiator to keep the engine cool.

#5. Inspect your cooling system components regularly. It’s always a good idea to inspect your cooling system on a regular basis. Check for obvious leaks around the hoses, thermostat housing, water pump, radiator and freeze plugs. Is the seal on your radiator cap cracked? Do your hoses look like they have seen better days? Are the hose clamps old and rusted? Be safe and replace. A little investment in maintenance now will save lots of money down the road.


#1. Make sure that your current radiator or new radiator is the adequate size for your particular application

Click here to shop radiators and components.


#2. Check to make sure your radiator is not clogged


#3. A properly operating thermostat is essential

Click here to shop thermostats and accessories.


#4. Fan shrouds are essential to cooling system performance

Click here to shop fan shrouds and accessories.


#5. Inspect your cooling system components regularly

Click here to shop radiator hoses and accessories.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Getting Started in the Collector Car Hobby

The single biggest expense involved with owning a classic car is obviously the initial cost of acquiring the vehicle or building the vehicle in the first place. While there are available collectible vehicles to suit nearly every level of budget out there on the market at any given moment, parking any classic in your garage will present the hurdle of an initial buy-in cost to overcome before you can get started in the game.

After a suitable vehicle is has been built or purchased, there are also other financial factors to deal with concerning your ownership. One, is that you probably should not buy a vehicle purely as an investment. The days of a volatile and constantly appreciating market filled with speculators willing to pay whatever it takes to secure a vehicle are over. Unless you own some ultra-rare classic that was produced in extremely low quantities, it is now a better strategy to simply own something you enjoy using and enjoy just for what it is. Viewing your classic car as a strict financial investment only is likely to disappoint. Your vehicle may or may not appreciate, and there’s no guarantee you’ll come out ahead after a few years of ownership. It’s better to invest in something that you’ll love to own and enjoy being around. That’s a payoff you can’t put into dollars and cents.

Paying the right price to purchase or build the classic car of your dreams is another financial factor to be dealt with. Although prices are mostly determined by the age, condition, features and the scarcity of a vehicle, the market can change quickly, and not always in a good direction. Niche markets within the greater overall collector car marketplace often exhibit their own price adjustment ups and downs.

Finding out later that you paid too much for a vehicle can definitely spoil a lot of the attraction. It won’t help on the investment side, either. Better to research the car(s) you’re interested in thoroughly, and if you can’t or don’t have the ability to become an absolute expert on your targeted vehicle, find someone who is an expert to help you out. You can check the value of a particular car on websites for the National Automobile Dealers Association, Hemmings Motor News and Hagerty Insurance, but finding an actual person who knows the exact model you are buying is better. Classic car clubs in your region as well as some classic car dealers might be willing to help in researching the vehicles you’re interested in. Don’t overlook these valuable resources and remember, this is one instance where you can never have too much information.

Classic car ownership presents yet another ongoing financial factor in the form of the ongoing cost of containment and associated expenses related to maintaining your vehicle once you have it at home, tucked safely in your garage. Garage space has never been free, but it has not been outrageously expensive either – depending on the level of service chosen. Just as you can’t park a valuable classic car in a driveway and forget about it, garage space rental facilities across the country are probably not lacking for customers these days.

The thousands of classics hidden away in commercial rentals are usually watched through 24-hour video surveillance, and many spaces also provide heat, air conditioning and a battery charger when needed. The cars also need to be started up occasionally, or the brakes will seize, the clutch will stick, and the engine will get dry. The more cars you have, the more difficult and expensive this can be. Those with the means often go to great lengths when storing their cars. Comedian and vintage car collector Jerry Seinfeld spent almost $1.5 million to have his own car storage facility built. Well-known collector Jay Leno has a full-time staff on the payroll, their sole job being keeping Jay’s stored cars in tip-top shape. Obviously the average collector cannot go to such lengths, but even the average collector will find that if you can’t store your vehicle at home, even minimal “safe” storage off-site can present another significant cost of ownership.

None of the initial hurdles of collector car ownership are so great that they would diminish the experience of owning and driving a classic car that you love. After the initial costs have been dealt with, you have the rest of your life to get on with the truly important part of this hobby; enjoyment. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

 

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Posted in Articles, Industry News

New for 2017 – Late Summer Clearance Sale catalogs from OPGI now available with savings up to 45%!

Original Parts Group Inc., the industry’s leading supplier and manufacturer of restoration and high-performance parts for classic GM cars, now offers five new 2017 Late Summer Clearance Sale catalogs featuring thousands of in-demand restoration parts and accessories up to 45% off their regular price.

The long days of summer are the perfect time to get started on your next big restoration project. The Late Summer Clearance Sale catalogs are available now and grouped in five different motor divisions: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac. Because OPGI offers the widest selection and best prices on the highest-quality parts for your classic GM restoration project, you’ll find big summer savings on everything from interior and body parts to engine parts, sheet metal, bright trim and everything in between.

Visit OPGI.com to take advantage of dramatically reduced summer clearance sale prices and free standard ground shipping on any pre-paid order of $199 or greater, shipped by FedEx Ground, within the contiguous United States. For more information visit OPGI.com, or call toll free: 1-800-243-8355.

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Posted in Articles, Parts Catalog

OPGI’s Top 5 Tech Tips: Moldings

Bright and shiny new moldings will obviously improve the appearance of any car that they are installed on. In order to look their best however, molding components must absolutely be installed correctly. Installing new moldings is never a quick, snap-together procedure, and the job usually requires skill, the ability to follow directions and perhaps a bit of patience. The El Camino SS pictured above is a good example of just how good a full set of new moldings can look , and at the same time, it hints at the possible complexity of the job.

Here at the Original Parts Group headquarters, we usually turn to the guys in the Sourcing Department when we get questions regarding molding installation on a specific make or model. In that light, we asked the Sourcing Department for a few general molding installation tips that we could pass along to our customers with their own molding projects. Here’s what they had to say:

OPGI’s Top 5 Tech Tips: Moldings

#1. Protect your paint with masking tape when drilling new holes or working with fresh paint.
Protecting fresh paint from scratches and chips is always a top priority when putting the finishing touches on your car. Laying down a protective layer of masking tape will insure a damage free installation of your moldings and trim.

#2. Always inspect the clips or retainers and replace if broken or worn.
Whether the molding clips are metal or plastic, always inspect those clips for damage. Trying to reuse decades old hardware could lead to installation difficulty and possibly loose or missing moldings.

#3. Always use the correct tools to remove molding to avoid damage.
Never use screwdrivers or other incorrect tools to try and removing moldings. This will more often than not damage the molding and scratch the finish of your car. A molding removal tool such as CVT0039 is cheap insurance that not only protects your car but makes the removal process so much easier.

#4. Looking to save your original aluminum moldings? Remove them from the car and lightly wet sand with 2500 grit sand paper. This will remove fine scratches and other blemishes once buffed using a high quality aluminum polish.

#5. If using speed nuts on new molding, cut the threads before installing onto the car.
Certain moldings require the use of speed nuts that cuts a thread into the soft aluminum stud to secure the piece. Install the speed nut and cut the threads before installing on the car. This will make installation easier and quicker.

#1. Be sure to protect the paint with masking tape. Blue Painter’s tape is perfect for this, and will not leave residue or harm paint.

#2. Always inspect clips and retainers before assembly. It’s best to familiarize yourself with how they fasten the molding to the vehicle. Take your time, this shouldn’t be a “rush” project!

#3. Always use the correct tools. Never use screwdrivers, etc. to pry off moldings. They will crimp very easily! OPGI offers these for sale – click this link.

#4. Saving any of the original molding will involve wet sanding and hand polishing.


#5. When using speed nuts, be sure to cut the threads before installing them on the car.

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Posted in Auto Body Parts, Body Moldings & Trim

Inspirational Interiors

When it comes to restoring a classic GM muscle car, most enthusiasts know that you’re not really finished with the job until your interior looks as good as the exterior does. There aren’t many aspects of car restoration that are more satisfying than returning a worn-out interior to its original factory fresh appearance. When your car is finally complete, hopefully you’ll be spending more of your time sitting inside the car admiring the great interior than you’ll be spending under the hood  wrenching on things. If you’ve got a convertible, a thorough interior restoration is doubly important when the top is down and the whole interior is exposed. A complete interior restoration can really look outstanding when restored to original specs as shown here on OPGI’s 1972 Chevelle Convertible. Follow along as we take a closer look at several great interior restoration jobs and maybe you’ll be inspired to restore your own interior with parts from OPGI’s extensive line of interior parts and interior accessories.

Even if your car is not a convertible, the interior of a classic muscle car is more visible than one might imagine. The lack of B-pillars really opens up the interior and nearly every item of the 100% factory correct restoration is visible from the outside of this 1966 Chevelle SS when the door is open. All OPGI interior components are exact factory reproductions that are guaranteed to meet all OEM specifications for fit, finish and functionality. Exact reproduction interior components from OPGI include authentic grains, enamel-baked paint, flawless chrome accents, and brushed aluminum fascia, making all virtually indistinguishable from original factory parts.

Whether your project car is equipped with bucket seats and a center console like this clean 1971 Buick Skylark GS interior, or a bench seat and manual 4-speed like the 1965 El Camino interior shown below, OPGI has everything you need to restore your GM classic back to perfect showroom shape.

No interior component makes a bigger impression than the seats. OPGI offers everything from seat foam and upholstery to completely assembled seats to fit all of the most popular GM classic A-body cars. OPGI stocks reproduction seat upholstery kits featuring factory-correct center inserts along with authentic heavy-grain vinyl skirts in more sets and colors than any other supplier. The basic black interior shown here looks just right inside this bright orange GTO Judge from 1969.

This 1971 El Camino is fitted with brand new reproduction gauges and dash lamps that are 100% factory correct.  OPGI offers reproduction gauges as well as custom gauges that combine nostalgic styling with modern engineering. New steering wheels, dash accessories and dashboard lamps can go a long way toward making a worn interior look factory fresh again.

Complete, factory-correct door panel kits are available for everything from the ’69 GTO Judge above, to the ’66 Chevelle shown below. Interior door panels often get damaged and become worn over time. New door panel kits that include all of the GM factory trim and hardware can really make a difference in this area.

Because door sill step plates take a lot of abuse and are visible every time you open your doors, OPGI offers factory-accurate reproduction step plates in aluminum complete with “Body by Fisher” badges pre-riveted to the assembly. For a bit of added durability, stainless steel step plates are also available without the Fisher Body badges or mounting screws.

Complete center console kits include everything needed for a complete restoration including console bases, doors, hinges, back light assemblies, finished top plates, correct indicator lenses, dial assemblies, sealing strips, lock latches, screw kits, and even the mounting brackets. Depending on the application, OPGI Shifter Assemblies feature pre-installed lockout buttons and springs along with all the features needed for a trouble-free installation in your car. OPGI premium reproduction Center Console Kits are available for Chevelles, El Caminos and Monte Carlos from 1966 to 1972 equipped with manual, Turbo Hydra-Matic, or Powerglide transmissions. Although all kit components can be ordered from the OPGI catalog as separate items, complete kits usually represent the best deals.

Nothing looks quite as good as a black carpeted interior fitted with white seats. Conversely, nothing looks quite as bad as white seating that is stained or worn out. As displayed in this 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 Convertible, all new seat upholstery in white solves the problem.

Don’t forget the back seat! Seating upholstery that matches the front buckets, as shown on this 1964 Riviera, is available in a huge variety of colors and styles.

In addition to carpet kits, upholstery kits, console kits and door panel kits, headliner kits that are exact duplicates of the headliners GM used from 1964 to 1977 are available in all factory correct colors and patterns. Here, a 1971 El Camino shows off a complete new headliner that is a perfect match for the original factory equipment.

More part of the interior than the exterior, a clean trunk  is another area that will gain points for an original, factory-correct appearance. Here, a 1965 GTO displays a restored trunk area complete with new, OEM-specification trunk mat and correct-pattern spare tire cover. Depending on the application, OPGI trunk mats are available in both rubber and carpet versions.

Shop for restoration parts at www.opgi.com.

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Posted in Interior Accessories, Interior Soft Trim, Interior Trim, Weatherstripping & Seals

OPGI Employee Spotlight – Rollie Bennett

Before OPGI employee Rollie Bennett III was deployed overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom for 17 months back in 2002, he worked here at Original Parts Group for 8 months. During those 8 months he climbed his way up the totem pole in the Warehouse. Starting with packing hundreds of boxes per day, to pulling hundreds of parts orders, Rollie was then promoted to our Receiving Department.

Upon his return to the US after his long deployment, Rollie came back to OPGI to start where he left off. He worked in the Receiving Department for many years, 11 to be exact. Although he loved his job and the employees, he knew he wanted more. He began taking some Digital Media and Design classes at Golden West College and OCC, and then spoke to OPGI’s Vice President about the possibility of being promoted to the Marketing Department. Rollie was almost instantly taken into Marketing with open arms.

Now 4 years later in Marketing, Rollie works with Production Supervisor Scott Hamm where they both layout and design all 11 of OPGI’s annual parts catalogs, dealer books, holiday catalogs and yearly clearance catalogs. He has a real passion for the design portion of his position, and you can see it in his work.

Last month Rollie was asked if he would like to be a part of our Father’s Day Promotion photo shoot alongside his son, none other than Rollie IV. He gladly accepted, and his son was very excited to come to work with his Dad. They had a great time cruising in OPGI’S 4-4-2 Cutlass, and playing pretend with the 1970 Chevelle while our photographer snapped some fun photos.

Here is a fun fact for you; Rollie met his wife Jessica here at OPGI 15 years ago where they worked in the warehouse together. Ironically, after Jessica worked in the Accounting Department for 12 years, they have found themselves working in the same department yet again with Jessica working as our Marketing Coordinator.

Rollie is continuing with his schooling in hopes to continue to grow with Original Parts Group. He is a very dedicated employee and strives for nothing but the best!

 

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Posted in Articles, OPGI Employee Spotlight

In Praise of the 1960 – 1969 Corvair


Late Model on the move!

Unlike the one-size-fits-all, large-bodied cars produced by the “big three” American manufacturers up to 1960, the Chevrolet Corvair manufactured by General Motors (GM) from 1960 to 1969 was a smaller, unconventional vehicle in many ways. The Corvair was the only USA produced passenger car to employ an air-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine constructed with many major components made from aluminum. The engine was rear mounted and drove the rear wheels through a transaxle. The innovative Corvair was the first GM car built on a unibody chassis and the first GM car with independent suspension at all four wheels.

Despite the unconventional styling, the Corvair was very well received at the time of its introduction and earned numerous engineering patents due to its innovative construction. Time Magazine put the Corvair on its cover in October of 1959 and Motor Trend Magazine awarded the Corvair its “Car of the Year” award for 1960.  Spanning two main generations of manufacturing design, the Corvair range grew to include a two-door coupe, convertible, four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon, as well as passenger van, commercial van, and pickup trucks. At the time, the Corvair’s main competition in the marketplace were imports from Volkswagen, Renault and Fiat as well as the USA-produced Ford Falcon, Plymouth Valiant, Studebaker Lark and Rambler American.

For the 1960 launch, GM produced just over 250,000 2 door coupe and 4 door sedan models in 2 trim levels. Priced at right around $2,000, the new smaller, utilitarian car from Chevrolet was a hit with many Americans. For 1961, Chevrolet produced 329,632 Corvairs and added a 4 door station wagon, a Greenbrier window van, a Corvair 95 panel van and a pickup called the Rampside with a side mounted loading gate.


1964 Corvair Spyder  photo by Jeff Koch

Things got more sporty in 1962 with the introduction of a “Monza Spyder” turbocharged package (available only on Monza coupes and convertibles with 4-speed transmissions) that upped the horsepower to 150 from the original max of 102 hp through the use of a turbocharger, new carburetor and a larger oil cooler. The sporty “Monza Spyder” option also included chrome engine accents, special emblems, “Spyder” wheel cover inserts, and a new dashboard layout.

In 1963, the station wagon variant was eliminated, and although there were a few minor trim and interior changes across the line, the 1963 Corvairs were basically identical to the 1962 models. 1964 marked the last year of the “early” style Corvairs and was also the last year of production for the Rampside and Corvair 95 panel van. However, 1964 was also the year the Corvair received a larger 164 CID engine, a transverse leaf spring, revised coil spring suspension, a front stabilizer bar and finned rear brake drums.

1965 was the year the second generation Corvair arrived on the scene. Although 1965 was the last year of the Greenbrier window van, the introduction of the new late model with a fully independent suspension replacing the original swing axle was the bigger news. With new styling and a wealth of mechanical improvements, the new Corsas offered a turbo option of 180 hp along with a 140 mph speedometer, 6,000 rpm tachometer, a cylinder head temperature gauge, a manifold vacuum/pressure gauge and a new fuel gauge. Buyers could order a 4 carburetor-equipped 140 hp engine in any model, but the 180 hp turbo option was available only on the Corsa. Late model Corvairs also received an improved heater system, larger brakes, a stronger differential, and a new alternator replaced the generator. Chassis refinements for 1965 included a Z17 performance suspension package with a quick ratio steering box that produced major improvements in handling.


Above: 1964 Greenbrier Deluxe van and 1965 Corvair Corsa

1967 saw a loss of factory interest in the Corvair, due in part to the introduction of the Camaro. The Corsa model was eliminated and 1967 was also the last year for the 4 door sedan as the line was reduced to the 500 and Monza Hardtop Coupes, the Hardtop Sedans, and the Monza Convertible. Although Chevrolet still marketed the Corvair in 1967, little effort was put into advertising and sales fell drastically. As a result, just 27,253 Corvairs were built for 1967.

Sales continued to fall and total production for 1968 dropped to 15,399 cars. 1969 saw only 6,000 cars produced. By this time the fate of the Corvair was sealed. Negative press about the handling of the Corvair in Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed” did not help. Although GM hired race car drivers and industry experts to declare that the Corvair was safe, the damage was done. A 1972 report from the National Highway Safety Administration later exonerated the Corvair’s handling, but the report was issued too late to save the marque and the line faded into the history books. In the end, it was probably a combination of cheap gas and cheap horsepower that did the most damage to the Corvair line. In 1969, gas was less than 40 cents a gallon, the big V8 muscle cars were on the horizon and consumers did not care much about gas consumption. Today, Corvairs enjoy status as collectible classic cars with good looks and a lot of technical interest, a combination that indicates their values will likely only rise in the future.

At Original Parts Group, we will soon offer thousands of 1960-1969 Corvair parts and accessories in our newest full color catalog. It will feature a wide range of items including sheet metal, trim, interiors, engine parts and the hard-to-find pieces that result in a show-winning restoration. Shop online and be sure to pre-order your OPGI 1960-1969 Corvair parts catalog here.

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Behind The Scenes – Doing Donuts

Behind the Scenes is a quick look at how Original Parts Group, Inc. gets the work done.

We need some donuts! Not the kind you eat! The kind you put on pavement with the rear wheels! We needed a good image to illustrate National Donut Day…and this is how it was done.

Here, OPGI Sourcing Specialist Casey Mohr takes a spin behind the wheel of OPGI’s 1970 “Executive” Chevelle Project Car while OPGI Photographer Carlos Gonzalez documents the donut-making from on high.

The big-block equipped Chevelle had no trouble leaving its mark on the pavement with a little throttle encouragement.

The finished product! We needed a great photo to get people revved up for Donut Day, and judging from the amount of rubber shown on the ground here, the mission was accomplished! And that’s how you make donuts, folks……

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OPGI Blog

Welcome to the OPGI Blog! We will keep you up to date on the latest accessories and parts in the industry.