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Q&A with Kit Foster: April 23, 2015


Q. I was sent this photo by a well-informed car guy friend, in hopes that I could identify this grille. It is on the wall at his friend’s place, and when people ask he has to tell them he has no idea what it is from. While it is good for my ego that people sometimes think I have all the answers to anything car-related, I’m clueless on this one. After quite a bit of research, I’m now more curious than ever. Was it a one-off, custom, alternative vehicle, attachment for a Lincoln or Monte Carlo or such? The size and shape suggests it would have been on a vehicle, but I suppose it is possible it was used for a sign or some other purpose. I’m counting on Old Cars Weekly readers to solve the mystery.

— Ken Nimocks, Green Bay, Wis.

A. I don’t recognize it either, but it has an aura I associate with some recent Korean cars, perhaps Kia, Daewoo or Ssangyong. Readers, does anyone know it?

Q. I’m trying to find some history about my 1939 Ford truck, VIN # C1230D354. Stamped on the frame, however, is BB54 197210Y. I bought the truck in September 1992 in St. Paul, Minn. The last time it had been licensed was 1970, with Minnesota plate YA7253. It has a 60-hp engine, three-speed transmission, 122-inch wheelbase, half-ton rear end and hubs, and a full 8-foot box the same as the 1-ton. I’ve always called it a “morphadyke,” part half-ton and part one-ton. That makes it a 3/4-ton, right?

— Dave Renfrow, via e-mail

A. I don’t know about “morphadyke,” but it is indeed a 3/4-ton Express, Model 92D, Type 83, Ford’s first truck in that class and new for 1939. As you say, it has a mix of half- and 1-ton parts, and was rated with a 1,500-lb. capacity, according to James K. Wagner’s “Ford Trucks Since 1905” (Crestline Publishing, 1978). It’s interesting that Ford offered the small 60-hp V-8 in a truck this size (and in 1-tons, too), but that was to attract customers interested in economy. After the V-8 60 was discontinued for 1941, there were Ford trucks with four-cylinder engines from the 9N tractor.

Your VIN, which I understand is on the title, looks like it may be Canadian, but it doesn’t fit the format of any other Canadian Fords I’ve seen. The frame number is correct for a 60-hp truck: “BB” was a prefix that started in 1932 with the BB 1-1/2 ton truck, and “54” appears in all 60-hp vehicles, car and truck. The serial portion, however, fits into the sequence published for 1937, but at Ford all conventions were frequently broken so anything is possible. As for its history, I suspect the Minnesota DMV won’t be of much help. Do any of our Minnesota readers remember a truck like this?


Q. How come on the Cadillac shield emblem all the rectangles are different colors? How come on different models the colors are different?

— Jim Harrington, Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

A. Well, the shield, or crest, has evolved in detail over the years, but the general design has remained fairly consistent. It is said to derive from the family coat of arms of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the French explorer who founded Detroit and for whom Cadillac is named. Some of them omit the birds (or ducks, as some people call them). The birds are merlettes (in French, martlets in English), and are heraldic charges (symbolic representations) of stylized birds, like swallows or house martins.

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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