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Behind the scenes at Chuck’s Restoration Supplies

5 December 2014

If you’re even remotely interested in the American car scene you will probably have heard of Chuck’s Restoration Supplies. Over the course of more than 20 years Chuck’s has grown from a garage-based importer to one of the larger, and most reputable, importing businesses in the country.

But, even though the logo features the infamous Chevrolet bow tie emblem, the owner and founder, Chuck Etherton, is quick to point out that it is not just Chevs they deal with — even though Chevrolets are what they specialize in — they’ll work with most American makes, including late-model vehicles. We were recently lucky enough to get a bit of a guided tour around the back end of the premises of their West Auckland site to find out a bit more.

The business was started in the early ’90s as more and more of Chuck’s friends began requesting he bring car parts back for them from his frequent trips to America. One thing led to another and after a few years the business began operating out of a 10,000-square-foot warehouse.

Chuck’s core business is in importing — primarily cars and restoration parts — so you’d expect there to be some cool stuff down there. There’s more than just some though — the inventory of brand-new parts is enormous and covers typical service components, like brake pads and ball joints, right through to rubbers, glovebox lids, reproduction bumpers, and body panels — you name it.

What is really incredible though, is the selection of used items. Doors, glass, stainless trim, seats, specific nuts and bolts — just about anything you could think of.

“I hate wrecking cars” Chuck says. “That’s one more car that will never make it to the road.” Which explains why it took him more than 20 years to amass the collection of used parts residing in his warehouse.

There are also some fine vehicles on display, including an Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne with factory straight-six, and this 1968 Chevrolet Impala (below). The Impala is an almost immaculate offering with factory 327ci small block and almost no rust — already spoken for, the Impala should be on the road for far less than what you’d expect one of these things to cost.  

This cool little Toyota Celica (below) was also hiding in a corner. We didn’t quiz Chuck about it, but thought it was a bit of a gem in a warehouse filled with American iron.

When we arrived, Chuck was also expecting to receive two containers. When the containers are unloaded they need to be fumigated before they can be opened. The fumigator arrived and the container was cracked open. This one was packed with three cars, including a Ford Thunderbird and a Chevrolet Impala, and as much miscellaneous stuff that could be rammed into the remaining space. As you can see in the photo there’s more boxes of stuff visible than there is ’61 Impala.

Inside, Chuck’s team are well equipped to deal with the queries and concerns customers may have — they all own, or are keen on, American vehicles and possess a strong work ethic and passion, which showed when we spoke to them. With Chuck openly saying he’d like to sell up, as he’s getting a bit old to be doing this, the business looks to be in good hands and all ready to help the next generation of American car owners.