Truck parts prices change partly by supply and demand just like anything else. It’s been my observation that parts prices and availability for Chevy, Ford and Dodge trucks have been such that driving old trucks “forever” worked well. Sheer numbers of these trucks on the road guaranteed a supply of used truck parts plus a demand for new parts too. However with the closing of many parts plants, doesn’t it make you wonder where the parts will come from to keep older trucks on the road.
Spare parts for older trucks often were made in batches on regular production equipment and then stored until there was a call for a part. At that time the part was shipped from inventory and then at some point the inventory level triggered an order for another run of parts to be produced.
I drive a 1976 Chevy C10 with about 50,000 miles on it. Can you imagine going back just that far how many pickup part numbers have been built just for Chevrolet trucks? The number is in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. All parts must be tracked and the manufacturing data available for these parts to be produced when needed. In addition, production tooling and equipment must be ready and on hand to make parts when the existing stock drops to the reorder level.
My guess is that at some point in time some pieces of the truck parts system will just report that the parts requested are not available. Already my review of the GM online parts site shows it stops well short of the 1976 model year. That probably means a decision to drop older parts inventories and manufacturing has already been made, maybe. That may mean that after-market parts makers will step in to fill the gap. Probably only if tooling up to make parts is justified by a proven demand for a certain volume of pieces. Otherwise, the investment is not justified.
Truck parts for older American pickups have historically been relatively cheap and easy to get. That may change as the auto industry changes. That means many serviceable and valuable vehicles will die an early death from lack of affordable service parts. That surely seems like a shame.