One repercussion of the current economic downturn is rapidly declining automotive sales. A knock on effect is that car parts companies are seeing their sales decline and many are going into liquidation. Consequently, if you are maintaining your old car on the road it is becoming progressively more difficult to source spare car parts. Nowadays however, thanks to the massive international market the internet has opened up, obtaining these precious parts is much easier than it might be otherwise. For example, I own an old Alfa Spider. It is a very beautiful car, of immaculate appearance, and when functioning as it should its on-the-road performance is simply outstanding. The problem is that it is manufactured by Alfa and that fact alone means that it will go wrong most of the time. My Alfa has an unquenchable thirst for spare parts. Apart from the expense, in the past this was not a problem. I could call at my local Alfa supplier and if the part was not in stock they would order it for me. Not any more. All I get now are apologies and explanations of why such and such part is no longer available. Last month the canvas roof failed to open. The fault was quickly diagnosed as a hydraulic pump failure, however my Alfa supplier told me that it could no longer supply a replacement part and a complete new mechanism would be required costing around $600. I searched the internet and visited many forums, asking questions and leaving messages. After only a few hours a contact on an Alfa forum replied and informed me of a small components manufacturer in France that manufactured a replacement plastic gearwheel for the pump. The total price was $24 including shipping. Thank you internet, you saved me $576.