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Q&A with Kit Foster: January 30, 2014

Q. A friend of mine gave me this possible hood ornament. He said he thought it was off a Chevy wagon. I would like to know what year and model. Can you help me?


— Gary Hilton, Torrance, Calif.

A. You don’t tell us how big it is, so I suspect the picture is deceptive, since it looks quite large in this view. Caprices in the early 1980s seem to have had “stand-up” ornaments, although I haven’t found an exact match for this one. Is it spring-loaded? Can anyone help?


Q. Thank you for publishing my question regarding peeling “top coating” on my 1983 Mustang (Aug. 22). I have developed a “fix,” at least a temporary one. It “sure do look better” since I applied Armor All to the paint surface, and the white flaking has disappeared. This may help someone else get their car off the lot.

— Oliver Jergensen, Soap Lake, Wash.

A. I’m glad you’ve found a work-around, since the readers who commented (Nov. 14) both advised you to strip and refinish. Let us know how it holds up. I recall taking rubbing compound to faded paint on a red 1951 Nash. It looked great for a while, but after about six months it faded even worse than before.


Q. Just as an aside to the hand crank question (Dec. 12), the Morris Minor could be hand-cranked up until the end of production in 1972. They were sold in Canada up to the end, but not in the United States after 1967. The lug wrench handle included a dog on the other end that fit through a hole in the bumper and lower radiator shroud. With Lucas on board, it was a handy thing to have.

— Jim Morris, West Allis, Wis.

A. Thanks. We also heard from Dan Strayer, who says his father had a 1971 Renault R10 that came with a hand crank. Having owned several British cars and suffered no more electrical maladies than on any of my other cars, I’ll let the Lucas joke slide.



Q. This photo is of an old instrument dash panel with choke, gas and timing knobs, also an ignition key hole. My lady, Julie, recovered it from her parents’ “moving day trash bin.” Her mom said “throw it out,” her dad said “no way!” When this retrieved piece was secretly given to me by their daughter it was very bent and rusted. I’ve enjoyed making it somewhat better. What vehicle is this from, and do some of your readers experience similar scenarios obtaining old treasures like this one?

— H.N. Bergh, Lampi, Mo.

A. I’ve had fairly good luck recently identifying cars, bodies and instrument panels (in fact, it was the instrument panel that helped me ID a Durant touring body a few weeks ago). This one, however, doesn’t ring a bell. The three oval holes are no doubt for a speedometer (probably in the middle) and two sets of gauges, perhaps two dials each, or maybe one is for a clock. You say that one knob is for “timing,” which I interpret as spark advance. That may be a clue, as most cars with a manual spark advance had that control on the steering wheel hub, because it needs to be adjusted frequently while driving.

Have we had similar scenarios in our own lives? Certainly! Old car people are, by nature I think, pack rats (let’s not use the currently fashionable term “hoarders”). The one factor that justifies keeping something you don’t need is the fact that it is rare and potentially useful to someone. Most old car parts fit that definition. If you were to visit my garage right now you’d see all sorts of things of that kind. It gives me great satisfaction when I’m able to unite odd parts on my shelf with people who need them.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail or mail to: Q&A, c/o Angelo Van Bogart, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.

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