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Q&A with Kit Foster: November 21, 2013

Q. This old hood ornament is from a car not known to me. I would greatly appreciate it if you could identify the ornament relative to make and year, and possibly place a value on it.

— Larry Szuhy, Euless, Texas


A. The head and neck certainly shout “Packard,” but I had trouble matching it up until I realized the wings are attached incorrectly. They should point straight up. It’s from a 1948-’51 upscale-series Packard. For 1952, the wings of the pelican (its proper name, although some insist it’s a cormorant) were swept back in this fashion, but were a different shape. Its value would depend greatly on whether the wings could be removed and re-attached properly without damage.


Q. My thoughts on “top coating” (Aug. 22 Q&A): I’ve been in body work and refinishing since the 1970s. They sure went through a learning stage with clear coating. Today, it’s a much better product, but now they want us to go to a waterborne base coat and then a urethane clear. It’s supposed to help the air. But for the man with the Mustang, I think he will have to go to a shop and strip the hood and trunk lid and refinish. If they say they could just feather and sand, I think when they’re done, if you get down and look closely, you will be able to see the feathered edge.

— Arnold Maunu, Bailey, Colo.

A. Stripping and refinishing will give the best results, I’m sure, and hoods and trunk lids are easiest because they can be removed. The remaining concern is, of course, matching the paint that remains on the car.


Q. In the Aug. 22 Q&A, Mr. Jergensen wrote regarding “topcoating” on new cars. I suspect what he is referring to is the urethane clear coat applied by the manufacturer over the OEM color coat. That system is on literally all new vehicles today. The clear enhances the appearance of the color and significantly extends the lifespan of the vehicle’s coating. In the aftermarket, it offers additional repair advantages.
Mr. Jergensen’s 1983 Mustang’s clear coat was delaminating from the color coat — that is, peeling. When that occurs it is attributed to ultraviolet sun rays penetrating the clear and degrading the outermost layer of color, thus compromising the adhesion of the clear to the color. So the color really isn’t OK. The clear and compromised color should be removed from the affected panels by sanding and be replaced with new primer, color and clear.

It was a similar condition on mid-’80s GM trucks that were not clear-coated, but the color was coming off the primer. Ultraviolet rays were penetrating what was said to be too thin a coat of color and degrading the primer to which the color was attached.

— Steve Haley, Salem, Mass.

A. So, another vote for strip and refinish, a solid majority so far.


Q. The unidentified vehicle in the Oct. 10 Q&A might be an early Klondike truck assembled in Loganville, near Cazenovia, Wis. There is only one known remaining Klondike truck and I got to see it at an Iola Old Car Show.

—Bill Harper, Linwood, Mich.

A. It could be, although the surviving truck that Bill mentions, with a photo in the Sauk County, Wis., Historical Society Flikr album, is much later and does not resemble our mystery truck very much. The Sauk County government website ( explains that Fred W. Kohlmeyer built his first pickup truck circa 1911, and in 1915 his first Klondike truck, in a concrete block paint shop he used in his auto business. By the end of the 1920s he had built 27 vehicles, including a fire truck, a “travel bus” and a recreational vehicle.


Q. In regards to the 1969 Cutlass with the ribbon thermometer strip in the dash vent (Sept. 26), I don’t believe that temperature-sensitive materials like this were available back then. If this car does not have factory air conditioning, then it will have a faux vent, which looks like the functioning vents in the car, but is solid. As such, no air can pass through. I am thinking that this is at least an ’80s or newer owner-added thermometer. If his car was built in Canada, and there would be “Made in Canada” embossed on the cowl tag.

— Dan Bruckbauer, Muskegon, Mich.

A. Having cleared up my question about the air duct, you’ve convinced me that you’re right. Yes, Canadian-built cars of that era are prominently marked. My 1970 Impala said so on the door jamb.

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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