Using eBay in a different way

Posted on October 26th, 2007 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

hydraulic-damper.jpgAs someone who has always enjoyed buying and selling secondhand goods, the advent of eBay is to me the opening of a Pandora’s Box of wonderful stuff.

I spend probably a minimum of 30 minutes each day scanning eBay, normally looking at the technical books but occasionally also checking search results on cars I own or I would like to own. My wife and I have a feedback record of over 700, accumulated usually through the purchase and sale of small bits and pieces. (And that feedback record is 100 per cent: we’ve met only an extraordinarily small number of people with whom we’ve had any problems at all – and none where the problems couldn’t be resolved.)

But the reason I am mentioning eBay here is because of something I’ve found very useful; something many people may not have thought of. Quite often when modifying cars, I wonder if a standard part fitted to another model will perform the required role. And with their pics and model details, eBay makes a great place to find if those parts exist.

So for example, at one stage I was looking for turbo intercooler for a project car. Because the flow requirement wasn’t going to be very great, and because the space to fit it in was very limited, it had to be very short but only moderately fat. There are no aftermarket cores that suit those criteria, so I started to browse eBay, not only here in Australia but also in the UK and US. What I was after was a pic that showed a standard intercooler from another car, an intercooler of around the right dimensions. In fact I found a few just like what was required – they were fitted to turbo diesels.

In another case, I needed to know what sort of steering dampers were available for motorbikes. I wanted to use a damper in a non-motorcycle application – but I needed to know if what I wanted even existed. Again, a worldwide search under ‘steering damper’ found a heap of pics and specs, not only for aftermarket units but for original equipment ones. And it’s the latter which is really useful: a general web search will find plenty of pics and details on aftermarket components but very few on factory parts.

On another occasion I wondered about universal joints used in steering shafts. Not in fact proper universals but those rubber/canvas disc ones that also absorb vibration – they’re fitted mostly to older cars. I had a vague recollection of how they looked but I wanted to quickly eyeball one to see if the design was in fact at all like I remembered it.

In the case of the intercooler and steering universal, the search and results showed that I didn’t in fact want to go that way. But in the case of the steering damper, the model fitted to a Yamaha R1 looked perfect for the application. As it happened, the one for auction was located only kilometres away and the price was right – so I bid and won it. But even if it had been for auction in the US or the UK, I would at least have now known the exact component I was chasing.

So if you’re vaguely thinking that a part from another car (or any vehicle, for that matter) might perform the required function, an eBay search can be a very useful research tool.

One Response to 'Using eBay in a different way'

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  1. Jerry said,

    on October 28th, 2007 at 7:04 am

    I have 1971 Datsun 240Z and just installed a RB20DET from a 91 Skyline GTS-t……and purchased nearly everything for the install through eBay. In the process buying some very interesting items and making my life mch easier than if ebay didnt exist.

    Its a great resource!