While I like the idea of using products that are made in the USA, especially when working on older American hot rods and trucks, the reality is that we live in a global economy where things are made all over the world. But just because something isn’t made in the USA doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, I’ve been very vocal in recent years about that fact that where it is made does not automatically denote quality, or lack thereof. Crap is crap, regardless of where it is made. With so many parts being made overseas, the guys at Classic Truck Performance decided they were going to go check out the build process on sheetmetal parts and share the whole adventure with us. Here is their write up and the video.

Video Description:

We’ve all wondered what parts manufacturing looks like overseas. With so much of our classic truck (and car) parts being produced in Taiwan, our team at Classic Truck Performance decided it was time to jump on a 14 hour flight and brave the food options to find out for ourselves.

Our trip focused on visiting factories producing reproduction sheet metal for classic cars and trucks but our adventure led us much deeper into replacement parts and automotive lifestyle products manufacturing. We were fortunate to have our good friend Paul, owner of Golden Star Classic Auto Parts, as our guide and translator as we visited Muscle Car GT, CHL Auto Parts and other factories in Taiwan.

Before our trip, we kept hearing one name pop up: Mr. GT. All conversations about sheet metal seemed to lead back to Mr. GT, and during our trip we were able to spend multiple days with the man, the myth and the legend. Mr. GT is the owner of Muscle Car GT, the largest producer of sheet metal in Taiwan. We were able to visit the main Muscle Car GT Factory and find out the backstory of Mr. GT and the process of making sheet metal.

Mr. GT started producing sheet metal for classic cars in the 80’s. It started with reproduction sheet metal for early Mustang’s and eventually grew into producing sheet metal for most makes and models of classic trucks and cars. We are talking thousands of parts for car models like: Chevy C10, Ford F100, Chevelle, Nova, Camaro, VW Bus, Porsche and so much more.

One of the most interesting thing we learned on the trip was the how sheet metal tooling is being made with state of the art technology. From scanning original parts from complete bodies shipped to Taiwan, to creating styrofoam moldings, to casting the parts, refining them and eventually being ready to start stamping parts. We are talking up to a few hundred thousand dollars of investment into producing tooling for something like a quarter panel. And when you walk through these factories, you see hundreds of tools used to make everything from the largest pieces to the smallest pieces of metal for our vehicles.

In fact, Mr. GT started reproducing complete body shells back in the early 2000’s, and people thought he was crazy for doing so. Fast forward 20 years and it’s so much more common to start a high level build with complete new reproduction sheet metal for C10’s, Tri-Five’s, Bronco’s, Mustang’s, VW Bus’s, etc. And not only does that give us American’s more options for complete bodies to start with, making complete body shells has also ensured that each piece of the vehicles fits together and works together.

While we were in Taiwan, Paul from Golden Star Classic Auto Parts showed us the different body shells he is building: 1955 – 1957 Chevy’s, 1969 – 1972 Blazers and 1969 – 1972 Chevy C10’s. We were also able to see some of the new injection molding machines Paul purchased from GM and shipped from Tennessee from Taiwan. These new machines will make grilles fro New Body Style Chevy Trucks from 1999 – 2006. Some of these machines weighed up to 40,000 per machine, which meant that Paul had to ship 15 containers to get all these machines to Taiwan, but Paul can see that the NBS will eventually be the hot truck and he will be ready to supply grilles for those trucks.

Overall, our team left Taiwan with a greater appreciation for the people, tools and companies making reproduction sheet metal for our classic cars and trucks. These business owners have invested millions of dollars into creating the tools to make sure we have options for replacement sheet metal and reproduction parts for our hobby. If it weren’t for people like Mr. GT and Paul from Golden Star Classic Auto Parts our industry wouldn’t have the options that we have today and we would likely have more rusted out trucks and cars lying in overgrown fields unable to be brought back to life. So to the producers and importers, we say thank you.

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