Rare Parts By the Pallet

July 1, 2008 | By John Gunnell

This Wisconsin Auto Parts Dealer Came Upon a Large Cache... Most of Them Are for ’30s to ’50s Vehicles

SOME PEOPLE HAVE a passion for obsolete New Old Stock (NOS) and New Old Replacement Stock (NORS) auto parts. Nels Egge of Santa Fe Springs, California, was one of those uncommon people. Bob Marx, of Arpin, Wisconsin, is another old parts hound. The two never met each other, but now they have something else in common— Marx now owns a gigantic cache of high quality, old-fashioned ignition and electrical parts that Egge bought up over 30 years ago and never put in his mail order catalog.

Ironically, Marx wasn’t searching for parts when he planned a California vacation that led to the acquisition of 59 skids of parts for cars of the Teens through the 1960s. Marx says he also came close to passing up the opportunity to buy them. When he first talked to Egge purchasing agent Steve Markley, Marx was told that 36 skids of parts had been found in a warehouse. Most of the skids held large cardboard cartons, about the same size as the skids and perhaps four feet high, that were filled with items like distributor caps, rotors, condensers, contact point sets, headlight switches, coils, relays and so on.

The two dozen or so vintage distributor caps seen here are a small fraction of what was included in 59 skids full of electrical and ignition parts that Nels Egge collected prior to 1977.

This is a rare type of coil for older cars. The serrated cap screws off and a large bulb sits under it. It is among the many parts in the Egge cache that have a museum quality to them. As you can see, the asking price is $75.

Markley told Marx that Egge Machine had decided to concentrate on engine rebuilding, engine parts, rebuilding water pumps, rebuilding fuel pumps and selling high-performance parts for flathead Ford V-8s. Egge knew that the ignition and electrical parts were in very good shape and probably highly desirable, but they were not sorted and identified. Organizing the parts would have required specialized expertise and many man-hours of work. The costs for a big company to do this might be too high for a good return on investment, so Egge decided that the best course of action was to sell the parts.

“They were going to put the parts on the open market when we talked to Steve and he offered them to us,” Marx said and he’s glad that he bought the parts because the offering grew as time passed. The 36 pallets quickly turned into 40 when four more were discovered. Then, two days before Marx and his wife left for California, 19 additional pallets turned up in semi trailers that were thought to hold only engine parts. “The parts were buried so deep, that we’re still waiting for three pallets to be dug out,” Marx said.

A Frequent Buyer

“We were told that Nels Egge, Jr., the founder of Egge Machine Co., bought and bought and bought in the old days; he loved to buy and he never sold,” Marx said. The parts were stored at Egge’s Santa Fe Springs facility for so long that they still had inspection stickers from the last time they were inventoried…in 1977. The parts include items like a rare Lincoln-Zephyr V-12 rotor that Marx said has become nearly impossible to find.

The pallets also had hundreds of NOS distributor caps. Among the rarer caps are models for a Nash Twin Ignition Six and Twin-Ignition Eight. He has old, heavyweight caps for Hudsons, Studebakers, Willys and Nashes, as well as for Chrysler, Ford and GM models.

“Feel the difference in weight between this brown NOS Cadillac distributor cap and this black reproduction cap,” Marx suggested at a swap meet. “The old caps never cracked like the reproductions do.”

It’s Like Automotive Archeology

This very-hard-to-find rotor for a 1930s-1940s V-12-powered Lincoln-Zephyr is now available from Marx Parts LLC.

For years, the obsolete parts business has been a good sideline for Bob Marx, who also sells reproduction head gaskets.

Bob Marx holds a distributor cap for a Nash Twin-Ignition Six in his right hand and another for a Nash Twin-Ignition Eight in his left hand.

The majority of the parts in the cache are for cars of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, and the acquisition couldn’t have come at a better time for Bob Marx, who left his full-time job “by mutual agreement” in February. He is now working full-time in the old car parts business and had to rent an additional 40 x 60-ft. warehouse to hold his Egge parts. He and his wife are still sorting out what they have left on pallets and putting them into big boxes by category.

They are putting rotors in one box, contact points in another one, distributor caps in a third one, etc. They will then go back to sort the various components by year, make and model.

Among the rarest of the parts discovered so far was a hard-to-find Bosch armored cable type coil for 1930s cars and another rare type of coil that looks like a black Thermos with a screw-off cap. Under the cap is a large bulb.

Some of the parts, as well as the boxes they are packaged in, have a museum like quality about them.

For example, to open some of the sealed Delco-Remy containers, you have to pull a string that cuts the cardboard and allows the lid to be opened so the part can be removed.

Marx has been a seller of NOS, OEM and aftermarket parts for 1920s to 1960s cars for years, mainly at swap meets in the Midwest. He also does a mail-order business and sells his parts on eBay.

His full line includes mechanical parts as well as electrical items. He also handles a line of reproduction head gaskets for vintage engines.

Marx is very knowledgeable about all of the parts he sells and does a good job cataloging his inventory. If anyone is able to sort out the 59 skids, Marx is certainly among those most qualified to do so.


Marx Parts LLC

7323 County Road N

Arpin, WI 54410