Today's modern, highly digitised cars rarely suffer from faults and malfunctions, and when they do the problem can often be fixed by plugging it into a diagnostic computer. However, if you have a penchant for older cars and vintage models, repairing the inevitable mechanical hiccups they will suffer as they age can be more challenging. Sourcing replacement parts for an older vehicle can be particularly difficult and won't get any easier with time.
Consequently, many motorists seeking to maintain or restore an older vehicle will often purchase two of the same vehicle -- one model kept in to driving, and one cheaper, 'sacrificial' car which is cannibalised for its spare parts to keep the primary car running. With a little planning and intelligence, this approach can have many benefits over sourcing and purchasing spare components individually, and anybody with an aging yet beloved vehicle to maintain should pay serious attention to the stock of their local used car dealerships.
What are the advantages of purchasing a car for spare parts?
Unlike most other things in life, a used car is often less than the sum of its parts -- they are sold to be roadworthy, comfortable modes of transportation, and a vehicle that still possesses many components in good working condition but is no longer as reliable, comfortable or desirable as it once was will often be sold for bargain basement prices, if only to free up room for more profitable models. In some cases, you can pick up an entire vehicle containing your desired part for less than the price of the component by itself.
Even if you can pick up a component for less than a particularly battered duplicate of your car, purchasing the car can be the more economical option in the long run. The older a car gets, the more prone it is to mechanical failure, and having a ready stock of replacement parts sitting ready for use in a spare vehicle can be both cheaper and more economically than fitting replacement parts on a malfunction-by-malfunction basis.
This is particularly true if you drive a vintage vehicle that is no longer in production -- this generally means that replacement parts for the car are no longer being produced either, creating an ever-dwindling pool of remaining components that can increase exponentially in value as they become rarer. Finding a non-roadworthy vintage car with identical or similar components to your own is often much easier.
You are not limited to purchasing a vehicle for spares that is identical to your own, either. Many models go through a number of iterations over the years, with different body shapes and styles but the same components under the bonnet. Picking up a less desirable iteration of your car with broadly similar mechanical components can be very cost-effective, and ensures that your spare parts all come from the original factory rather than dubious aftermarket manufacturers.