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Old Cars Q&A: 2021 no. 1

Kit Foster answers all of your old car questions. This time he covers a Ford V8-60, mystery highway machine and fuel pumps.
Answer Man

Q. Regarding your discussion about the Ford V8-60 (Q&A Aug. 27), that engine continued in production in various forms until the late 1960s. After Ford of France was acquired by Simca in 1954, a 144-cid (2.4- liter) version was used in the Simca Vedette, which was produced through 1961 in France, 1962 in Australia, and 1965 in Brazil. Later, a 150-cid (2.5-liter) version of the engine, now with overhead-valve heads, was produced through the 1969 model year for the Brazilian-built Simca Esplanada. That small V-8 certainly had a long and interesting history.  — Dan Deacon, Philadelphia, Pa.


A. I was mainly answering Gerald Nyquist’s question about his father’s 1936 Ford, which didn’t have a V8-60. You’re right that the small flathead lasted beyond the mid-50s, though I had not come across the Brazilian production to 1965, nor the OHV version in the Simca Esplanada.

In addition to the French Vedette, the first version of which was styled like a 1949 Mercury, that engine powered Ford France’s svelte Comète coupe (photo: Wikimedia Commons). Bodied by Facel, the Comète was fitted with a Pont à Mousson four-speed transmission. From 1953, you could buy a Vendôme, essentially a Vedette with the “full-size” 239-cid flathead V-8. In fact, that engine, in its 8BA configuration, survived through the 1960s in the SUMB, a French military vehicle akin to the Mercedes Unimog. SUMB, by the way, stands for “Simca Unic Marmon Bocquet.” Designed by the Bocquet Company of Villiers-le-Bel, France, it used Marmon-Herrington patents for the four-wheel-drive system and was built in the factories of SA Unic, a French automobile and truck manufacturer since 1905. 


While we’re on the subject of foreign flatheads, it’s worth mentioning that Ford offered a V-8 Pilot model in the UK from 1947 to 1951. The styling was a throwback to 1930s cues. The engine was initially a V8-60, but soon changed to a 21-stud 221-cid flathead. It seems Ford never put the 24-stud version into British production, nor did it increase the displacement to 239 as in postwar U.S. models.

Q. At an estate auction recently, I purchased a box lot with several scrapbooks of auto-related material. It had all kinds of ads of cars and trucks of the 1930s and ’40s, plus local automotive ads and info. One of the oddest pictures is shown here. I have no idea what it is. It says “Highway Comm. of Ind. #19” on the side. Any clue as to what or when this was used? It sort of looks like an innovative piece of machinery.  — Fritz Walters, Delavan, Wis.

Indiana Hwybw

A. The cab and nose are from a 1933-’35 Dodge truck. The structure at the rear looks like a hopper of some sort, and the front part looks like it might be a tank. Could it be a highway striping machine?

Q. [Regarding Mike Rowda’s Olds hard-starting Olds, (Oct. 1 and Nov. 5),] the electric fuel pump is a band-aid and does not really fix the issue. He would have to wire it up so that he could fill the fuel bowl before cranking. For safety’s sake, it should be wired to the oil pressure switch so, in case of a crash, the fuel pump shuts off. All modern fuel-injected vehicles have some type of safety shut-off in case of a crash to shut the pump off, so that fuel is literally not added to the fire.  — John Gurnig, Lake Forest, Ill.

A. That’s an excellent point, not mentioned so far. I forget the exact circumstances and trail of events, but friends once had a Type 2 VW van consumed by fire for that exact reason.

To submit questions to this column:
or mail to: Q&A, Old Cars,
5225 Joerns Drive, Suite 2,
Stevens Point, WI 54481.

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