Parts Hunting In China
Needle In A Haystack

Where do you go to buy parts for your car? In California, I know where to go to get pretty much any car part that I may need. If I want to get general parts, like light bulbs or windshield wipers, I just go to a parts store. For new OEM parts I would go to a dealership or just order online to save some cash. If I really wanted to go the cheap route, I would head to the junkyard and pull the parts off myself. Some junkyards are fancier than others of course, and I’ve been to one where they just call in a part, and 30 minutes later it’s handed to you – for a fair price to boot.

What about performance or rare JDM parts? Everyone has their sources, but there are so many performance shops in California that finding anything and everything you need is normally just a phone call away. Of course, it’s a little bit different in other countries, but largely follows the same concept. So what is it like in China? Well, I went to find out…

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-2

In December I attended the World Drift Series China event in Guangzhou. I will go into more detail about the event itself in another post, but for now I want to talk about a parts predicament that Ross Petty found himself in on his return to drifting after a two-year hiatus. Ross was on fire, and it actually looked as if he was going to win the event. But when he went up against Matt Powers in the final four, Ross drove through an oil slick and his S15 understeered into the wall.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-3

His left front wheel turned into a tostada, he broke a control arm and damaged a rear knuckle. If he was stateside or in Japan, this would be a simple fix, however, there was another event in the city of Shenzhen the following weekend, so he needed to repair the car right away.

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That meant sourcing parts for the S15 in Guangzhou. But where to start looking? Luckily the locals told us about a parts market nearby, which supposedly had lots of rare JDM parts sourced from Hong Kong, where the Japanese car scene is huge.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-5

After a 40-minute taxi ride we arrived in the middle of a very busy intersection. At this point I was sceptical about finding what we were looking for, but at the same time I was intrigued by what we might uncover. According to our contact, there were parts suppliers as far as the eye could see in this area of the city.

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As we walked down a small alleyway, I noticed some signs with familiar logos. We were close.

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Ross pretty much had everything he needed to fix the car expect two things: an S15 headlight, which he could live without, and a rear driver’s side knuckle for an S14/S15 – a must-have.

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I thought we’d find a normal parts warehouse similar to what I’m used to in Los Angeles, but what we were confronted with was far from that.

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I just can’t begin to describe the feeling that I got from this one shop. It’s just madness.

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Fuel rails suspended from the ceiling and hundreds of throttle bodies hanging over the store owner’s head. OCD car fanatics need not apply here.

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Upon closer inspection, it was actually pretty amazing how organized this shop really was. I decided to explore further…

Don’t Get Shafted
Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-12

Pretty much every shop I walked past had a specialty. This one sold driveshafts and driveline parts. You don’t want to get shafted by this shop.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-16

What I’m curious about is how anyone finds what they are looking for. I mean, there has to be hundreds of different types of fuel rails hanging from the ceiling of this shop. Could you imagine if it collapsed? That wasn’t the scariest aspect though, rather that it smelled like fuel in there. The fact that most Chinese males smoke cigarettes, made me very afraid to get too close.

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Check out these awesome grab bins for fuel injectors. Some of these are bound to still work.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-18

Or choose from this wide variety of O2 sensors. The possibilities are endless.

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Need a new top end for your motor? There are many sitting on the floor that you can pick from.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-20

Don’t have room in your car? No problem, they deliver. And in style might I add.

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Need wheels and tires? You’re covered here too. Free delivery of course.

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What also amazed me was the fact that no one cared that I was taking photos of them.

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Pretty much every junkyard that I’ve been to in Los Angeles does not allow photography, and the staff certainly don’t want you to take pictures of them while they go about their work.

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Here, everyone seemed to be in their little world, just waiting for their next potential customer while surrounded by thousands of used car parts.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-14

Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just keeping an eye on these front ends.

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You have to pass the time somehow, right? Check out the Nissan GT-R bumper sitting there and being crushed by all those headlights.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-24

I was interested to find out what each shop specialized in. I’ve already shown you guys the driveshaft shop and the fire hazard fuel rail shop, but what else was there?

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There was a shop dedicated to selling ECUs of all makes and models. This was probably one of the cleanest ones on the street, for obvious reasons.

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I found this Audi and VW front end store too. Audi is considered one of the most prestigious brands in Mainland China.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-27

Need a rebuilt steering rack? Look no further, this guy has more racks than you have ever seen.

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What about air suspension? No need to go to the dealership when you can just get it second hand.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-29

I have no idea how this alternator shop knows which one is for what car, but I’m guessing there’s some sort of system in place. That wall of alternators is just waiting to fall over on an unsuspecting victim. Getting crushed by a wave of alternators is a bad way to leave this earth.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-30

There were quite a few exhaust shops, and most of the stock they had was fully assembled. My only question is, what do they do if you need one that’s way in the back?

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This particular shop sold pretty much everything under the sun, but good luck trying to go inside! This was a hoarder’s dream palace.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-32

The most common shop I saw were those dedicated to reselling headlights. Because of the massive amount of fender benders that happen every day in Guangzhou, lights are the most common parts that need to be replaced.

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A lot of them are restored headlights that are pieced together from used parts.

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One by one they are restored back to their original clarity.

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Each one is then labeled and priced ready for display. They’re pretty much perfect and sold for a fraction of the new OEM price.

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Out of all the stores we went to however, we could not find a single S15 headlight. That was not a big deal though, as it was just a cosmetic item really.

Hungry?
Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-33

When you get hungry from all the shopping there are food carts everywhere with some tasty street meat for you to try. Yum.

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Also interesting was the way the shops often blended into the street itself. As if the road was not narrow enough, the spaces out front of the shop were used to display items.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-34

In some cases it was also used as a full-on workshop. These guys even had an engine building area. Who needs a clean room, right?

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No cherry picker? No problem. No engine stand? Just put it on the ground. Compression test it and sell it for profit. Done.

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Apart from restoring headlights and engines, I also saw these guys piecing back together a fully burnt out Porsche Cayenne.

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There are no laws about working on your car on the street, and with a new interior and a fresh coat of paint this Porsche will be ready for the showroom floor once again.

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Of course, the real reason why Ross and I went out there in the first place was to find an S14/S15 driver’s side knuckle. And soon enough we found some shops that seemed to specialize in performance parts.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-45

I couldn’t tell if the parts were genuine or not, but it seemed like most of the brakes this shop had for sale were OEM, many of them restored and repainted.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-46

There were also a bunch of Nissan suspension parts laying out on the street.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-47

I am at a loss to explain why shops were trying to sell all of these brake calipers and rotors. While I get that there is a demand for OEM parts, how is it that these shops know what brakes will fit on what car?

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-48

With that said, besides the headlight shops and the ECU store, how is it that anyone on the block knows what they have in stock or not?

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These guys didn’t have the knuckle we needed in stock, but they said they would pull one from another warehouse and deliver it to our hotel. Mission accomplished.

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I’m just glad that I had the chance to look into a world that’s completely removed from what I am used to. I’m sure there are many more markets around the world like this one, and perhaps with even crazier shops.

Larry_Chen_Speedhunters_chinese_parts-50

It’s always tough on drift teams to compete while abroad – especially privateers like Ross Petty. But with a little bit of dedication you can pretty much fix anything. Soon I will go into more detail about what the Rasta drifter had to go through to fix his car in time for the next round of competition.

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What better way to end a day of parts hunting, than with a bowl of spicy chicken feet.

So tell me, what sort of interesting parts shops have you guys been to? Post some photos in the comments section – I want to see them!

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

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124 comments

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1

not a retail store. but I went part hunting in a garage just out of interest

http://www.hoodridesa.com/2014/12/part-hunting-in-dim-lit-room-by-imraan.html

2

Dear all Racer and Tuner i will be at this place in this early July 2017 please follow my page for update https://www.facebook.com/globalracingmotorsport/ . I will help you to find and deliver your needs. tq

3

Another one of my expeditions and found some pretty cool sights

http://www.hoodridesa.com/2014/07/why-you-no-sweat-becauseracecar-by.html

5

Dear all Racer and Tuner i will be at this place in this early July 2017 please follow my page for update https://www.facebook.com/globalracingmotorsport/ . I will help you to find and deliver your needs. tq

6

The "alternator shop" was actually sellinng AC compressors. I like´d the idea of the story and pictures were cool. In the write up too much worrying about stuff falling on someone. I would have liked to know how do they actually find right part from they shop.

7
Speedhunters_Bryn

Love it Larry!

8

Larry, are you still there? I need OEM Xenon headlights and some Project Mu brake calipers and discs for the rear axle of my S15... Could you find it for me and send to Moscow, Russia?)))

9

Save for the differences in the way things (laws and stuff) go in different countries, parts hunting in brazil is a much much simmilar game. Don`t expect a good price on import cars though, usually the more exotic up goes the price, to the point that some pull-a-parts doesnt even realize they sell somethings for more than the dealership asks...
And the myth that the "dealership prices are too high" is so consistent, that people often buy overpriced parts from smartasses on the street...

10

I'm surprised by the whole scene !

11

I love this article so much.  It combines my love of cars with places that most people don't get to see.  Man, what an interesting place.

12

call me safe, but i would not have entered one single store.

great article!

but those stores were cringe-worthy.

13

Thanks Larry, I'm glad you were able to highlight what the automotive scene is like in my hometown in mainland China.

14

Oh Top Gear UK, simply imagine a China Special on Series 22. That workshop tune will take up half the coverage.

Though I think you're gonna have to give those three some pretty shabby ex-rally cars. And send them on a trip to find a medallion or finding the end of the Great Wall or something. Like, put them on a trip harder than Bolivia and Patagonia combined.

Then they come in those shops with Jeremy's hammer and Richard's and James' complete set of tools (including, invariably, Jeremy).

And the kicker: Pit them against Top Gear China.

There. A Top Gear Christmas Special, Versus Edition.

15

Love this article!  That giddy kid in the candy store - yup, that would be me!

16

I'm a guy in China, there is always a block like this in first-tier cities in CHN.  lol

17

suomeljus Alternators were on the ground. I thought the same thing but blew the picture up and saw them. I also see starters too.

18

This is pretty insane but in a good way. Very unorganized but I am sure they have a system set up. It's just so cluttered with parts and ever thing is done with whatever they have to get the job done.

19

Larry - Great Stuff!  Every major city in China has a similar "car parts" market, but none of them are quite like the one in Guangzhou.  I spent 3 years visiting tuning shops in China before I saw the first engine stand, but now there is a rapidly growing number of higher end performance shops opening up all over the place.  Unfortunately they still suffer from a lack of knowledge, but blowing up a GTR or 2 speeds the learning curve.

20

Spelling mistake after the photo of Ross- except instead of expect. :)

21

i've had the chance to go to a couple of shops like these a few weeks ago while looking for some parts and man, i was going "i want this but i don't need this but i'll find a use for this i hope i have enough money" upon stepping foot on each shop.  

now i know the allure of these kinds of shops.  heheheh.

22

its like the fashion district in LA but for cars instead of crappy clothes haha !! awesome !!

23

I think the only similarity to buying car parts in China and LA is that you can also get a nice bowl of Chicken Feet after you're done picking up parts in the 626!! Nice write-up Larry, it's actually hilarious how organized chaos seems to be a recurring theme in China.

24

Now those are a lot of turbos over there, have you asked about the prices?

25
VictorVanderpooten

I don't even want to know of where these parts come from

26

UWerqxTeam_MJ this post kept getting better and better with every word

27

it feels so oddly satisfying to look at all the parts...

28

UWerqxTeam_MJ this gotta be happening haha

29

ludolfs china edition!

30

Favorite story in the last couple months, thanks for the look into this.  As for similar shops in LA .... they exist.... if you know where to look (for example, here's a small part of a stash containing more than 40 2002' stuffed in one corner of building).

31

I think they know what they have, this is there livelyhood to make money, just like I know exactly whats in my garage.

32

The love of the automobile, like life, always finds a way.

You know, I don't think I've ever seen a wheel folded up like that before.

33

Awesome feature. Reminds me a lot of the car scene in Bangkok.

34

Might be a strange question, but are they on ebay? Seems like a huge market not developped?

35

MartindeWitte hier moet jij het héél warm van krijgen ;-)

36

Very entertaining read!

37

Love this post!

38

Wow what an amazing story. Great photos of all those shops. I'd be in heaven if they had that here in the states.

39

VictorVanderpooten was thinking the same thing lol

40

You gotta see here in Guadalajara,Mexico. Analco neighborhood. There are two parallel streets, Los Angeles and 5 de Febrero, (and any perpendicular street between those) it's pretty similar. Great post, I loved it.

41

VictorVanderpooten Im guessing cars.

42

CharlieZard I'd love to check it out one day.

43

justkorda Hrm, I don't think ebay is very big in China.

44

Ice Age Tostada, or Taco salad.

45

@Rod O True, but there is just so much of it. Just straight Chaos.

46

AceAndrew2 That is so cool. I could probably pull off a few parts on that Z.

48

EvolveWRC The prices for the standard parts were fair, but the aftermarket parts were pretty inflated.

49

Chris Nuggets haha, I never thought of it that way. Good point.

50

@84disel200 Don't forget the crappy perfume.

51

QAJimMoore I've been going to China for 15 years and I have never seen anything like this. Although like you said car culture is growing rapidly.

52

UWerqxTeam_MJ They would be stupid not to do this.

53

johnbezt No kidding. I only went in stores without stuff hanging from the ceiling.

55

Speedhunters_Bryn Please, Sir.

56

suomeljus They had everything including alternators. I have no idea, I think you just ask and they tell you what they have that 'might' fit. The price was high, due to how rare they are in China.

57

Holy Moly!!!

58

Larry Chen I stand corrected. I have to say it again. Great pictures. So much to see. I can almost smell the gas, oil and cigarettes from the shops.

59

Larry Chen johnbezt Bahahahha. hard hat, hi-viz!

60

One of my favourite articles in a while, nice work Larry. That fuel rail shop, it's so chaotic it's almost beautiful lol

61

Larry Chen I'm not lurking, I will pay you)) in our country these mods are so rare like unicorns)))

62

Nice one Larry .. more of this parts hunting .

63

HAHAHAHA Welcome to China!!!!!!!!Sorry to let you see so much waste....BTW when will you come again?I hope the next time you see not only these...Greetings

64

A sight I would've never seen if it weren't for you Larry! Great post!

65

the shop u've written is a alternator shop i have only spotted 2-3 alternators.

but alot of AC compressors and Power steering pumps, water pumps and starter motors.

66

Larry Chen justkorda that's too bad, it seems like we are getting the short straw here in america,

67

Hard to say on where would be better to source from Hong Kong or Macau. Macau is closer to guanzhou and the JDM scene there is really big, but overall probably smaller since Macau is so small... but all the hondas there have fake type R badges and stuff.

68

Those brakes! Are those legitimate Brembo/AP brakes? a little clean up and those will look SUPERB in any car. Great post, Larry!

69

Just a fantastic article, something really fresh from the other side of the world.
I have been to China and I know how bonkers it is, but I never knew the spare parts business was like this! 

Thank you Larry :)

70

CharlieZard How are prices and are there any devoted to performance parts & aftermarket?

71

@CharlieZard Nice to read another mexican over here!!! 


Those "shops" really reminded the average yonkee/deshuesadero here in Mexico. Only difference is they try to keep every car part under the same roof instead of specializing in a particular piece.

72

we've got some thing like this too. but not so much. most of the shop like these in here are selling motorcycle parts.

73

Great post Larry! I wonder how many get injured from falling parts in one year!

74

mbretschneider Pick-N-Pull here in California is known for that with some of their "cheaper" parts.

75

Victor Zimin Larry Chen Why not try looking for them in Vladivostok? I know it's far away from where you're from, but Vladivostok is like a few hundred miles away from Japan and 90% of their cars are RHD anyways. Just a thought.

76

中国也有一些正规的汽配城,但总体还是比较乱...以民用为主,像S15这样在中国保有量几乎为零的地方,或许也只有这样的 摊子 可以买到一些用的上的了.

77

In the last picture of parts, there appears to be what looks like Nitron coilovers just laying on the ground.  that's $7-10k suspension just laying there, wonder how much they wanted for it?

78

Welcome to a little province called Samut Prakarn, just outside Bangkok...

79

MikeDonnelly looks like tein coils to me with the controller

80

That is f-ing insane.. i thought the stuff i saw in Korea and the outskirts of Hiroshima Japan was wild, this beats it by far..

81

The Philippines have similar places like that. LOL!

82

Larry Chen justkorda Dont take my word on it, but i think they use a different site called alibaba, or aliexpress! the guy who owns it is the richest guy in china (Last time i checked)!

83

wow...wonder if they use SAP?! lol

84

dzeimz16 I'm more interested in how they obtained CTS-V brembos.

85

Nikhil_P Hahahaha, God I hate that program.

86

Ice Age "The love of the automobile, like life, always finds a way." 
                Such poetry...from your mouth to God's ears bro!

87

Nikhil_P Hi, Nikhil. You are pretty close actually. The website is called "Taobao" which is owned by Alibaba.

88

bmxatv10 Nikhil_P haha likewise!!

89

eVox CharlieZard Prices vary, you have to "hustle the deal" you know. There are a lot of parts of all kind. But you have to ask around.

90

SachaAlbarda do these people have websites?

91

Nikhil_P bmxatv10 can anyone use SAP?

92

two questions
Do they speak reasonable English? I mean this in a non racial way just a valid question
Do they have websites i can contact them on

93

JeffJefferson1 Nikhil_P bmxatv10 Never knew anyone who could, lol.

94

JeffJefferson1 SachaAlbarda

95

SachaAlbarda can u give me the full address of this shop?

96

That must have been some adventure. It really amazing what people will specialize in and sell in other countries. You probably had to do a lot of on foot research before you found the best deals. It is true that you want to get the best price for your piece. Thanks for sharing this really cool experience. Thankfully not every car repairs needs a trip to a foreign country.
 http://www.carbusters.net.au/products

97

we also have automotive junkyard store / market in indonesia , even you can buy engine there,,

98

That is awesome you were able to find rare JDM parts in the junkyard in China!  I have done pretty well for myself out here in the states as well.  My brother and dad are pretty mechanical and anytime something goes wrong with the car, they almost always are able to find a used auto part to fix it.  It saves a ton of money and works great.  
http://www.archiescarparts.com/Auto-Parts-Valparaiso-IN.html

99

One of the best articles on speedhunters!

Egypt had shops just like this o_O

100

Thank you, I know how to keep your accessories where to buy in China
---
signature: http://www.clickjogosclick.com/ | http://www.baixarfacebookmovel.com/

101

Yurisminator I count about 40 alternators, just open the wallpaper. You're right though, there are more starters and AC compressors.

102

JeffJefferson1  Without implying that you couldn't speak any language besides English......what other languages do you reasonable speak?

103

where it is? china adress?

104

I want that black front end for my 98 camry! JDM front!

105

Welcome to ASIA!

106

This article is really interesting. There's actually a pretty big market for car parts and scrap vehicles here in the USA, you just have to know where to look. http://sellbrokencarforcash.com/http://sellbrokencarforcash.com/

107

Where?

108

Awesome article. Thanks for allowing us to follow vicariously.


But, ehhhh, chicken feet... I have had lots of Dim Sum and I always avoid chicken feet.

109
SpartanLoveWhisky

Love ur articles!
but some one is using ur pictures without ur signature on it,though they do mention its from ur article but i still its not right.
check it out
http://wechat.fingerdaily.com/thread-199146-1-1.html

110

That is just insanity. We have a small used parts department at the shop... about 3,500 parts and my OCD drives me nuts, I could never work there... Chinese people is crazy! LOL.. Great article and pictures, thanks for sharing!

111

Awesome report..always amazing posts!!
Regards from Portugal

In Portugal once i made a little photoshoot in a junkyard,hope you like it..cheers

https://www.behance.net/gallery/8639877/Wrecked-Exotics

112

CalvinAdiMulya 
78 Baiyun N Ave, Baiyun, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
广州市白云大道北78号陈田湛隆汽配城

113

HansRoyal hi bro are your place close to this spare parts shop area? plan to go there in this coming may. Can you assist me there? tq

114
WaleedElFaramawy

I have a Nissan livina 2011 >>> I want some spare parts .... my e mail .com
can you help me in this

115

iam looking for lamborghini gallardo 2005 06 or 07 half cut pls

116
kyleschoendorfer

I am looking for parts fo a lexus 1990 - 1994 ls400
Performance headlamp assembley
Complete turbo kit with cooler.
Heater control in dash.
Struts.
I have more.

117
kyleschoendorfer
118

FiuzAduan Not really, I'm living in another city, but it's closed... I have friend work in there

119

NN3199 are you able to put me in contact with anyone over there to buy a few bits and pieces please?

120

@LarryChen, are you able to supply a few names or contact numbers on some of those shops please, looking for a few things and google is useless

121

hello larry how are you 

i need some second hand  lexus headlights 
if you have used  lexus headlights
then whats app me plz +923218801075
thanks

122

can you please tell which market it is? where. i mean the address. am going to guangzhou is it near?

123

where is this market

124

Dear all Racer and Tuner i will be at this place in this early July 2017 please follow my page for update https://www.facebook.com/globalracingmotorsport/ . I will help you to find and deliver your needs. tq

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