Q&A with Kit Foster: February 14, 2013

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Q. I just finished reading the article about the 2+2 1965 Pontiac with triple carburetors (Jan. 17 issue). What a great car! I was wondering when multiple carburetors were first offered as standard equipment or as optional equipment on U.S. cars. I know that early ’50s Hudsons had a dealer-installed Twin H-Power option that meant dual single-barrel carburetors. Were there earlier examples?

— John Koskela, Robins, Iowa

A. Well, the Cadillac V-16 and V-12, both introduced in 1930, had dual carburetors, but those cars had what were, in effect, two separate engines sharing a single crankshaft. Each bank of cylinders had its own fuel and electrical system. If you mean an option for a car which ordinarily used a single carb, Buick’s 1941-’42 Compound Carburetion certainly qualifies. This system, standard on the 320.2-cubic-inch Century, Roadmaster and Limited engines, had two dual-barrel carburetors on a split intake manifold, such that one barrel on each carb fed four cylinders. The front carburetor was complete, with float bowl, idle and main jets, choke, throttle and acceleration pump. The rear carb had only a float bowl, idle and main jets and throttle. The rear carburetor kicked in at full throttle. With the help of higher compression, the maximum horsepower of the engine increased from 121 to 165. Compound Carburetion, however, proved difficult to keep in tune, although part of the problem was traced to the 10 millimeter spark plugs introduced at the same time. Compound Carburetion did not return after World War II.


Q. I would like some information on a car my dad had around 1934, a 1924 Diana, I think. The man at Jiffy Lube had a big book, and he said it wasn’t in his book. So is there such a car? I’m 88, my sister is 90 and I have two brothers. The back seat was so big we played while Dad drove.

— Thomas E. Kendall, Saint John, Wash.


A. Yes, Thomas, there was a Diana. Built from 1925 to 1928, it was an upscale “companion make” to the Moon. Patterned somewhat on the Belgian Minerva, both in its radiator shell and goddess nameplate, it was announced to great fanfare in May 1925. Selling at $1,895 to $2,195, it was priced between Buick and Cadillac. Like the Moon, it was an “assembled” car, using bought-in components such as a Continental straight-eight engine. There are persistent stories about unreliability, but no doubt the main factor in the demise of Diana was the failing fortunes of the Moon Motor Car Co., which ceased production in 1930. This photo of a 1928 Diana is from the OCW archives.


Q. The Jan. 10 Q&A column concerning GM trunk-mounted air conditioners got my attention. Concerning the Novi unit, that was definitely an aftermarket installation. I will tell you the real story. In 1953, my father bought a new 1953 Buick Roadmaster (Roadmonster). It was equipped with factory air conditioning. It was a Frigidaire (GM) unit mounted in the trunk, high on the hump behind the back seat. There were chrome air-scoops on each side to catch fresh air. Plastic tubes went from the rear deck into tubes in the roof under the headliner. At each seat, front and rear, was an outlet, similar to those in an airplane, to adjust and divert the air flow. The compressor did not have a clutch. You were given three fan belts, two to go around the compressor for the summer and one to bypass it for the winter. There were two small knobs on the dash under the speedometer, one for the three-speed fan, the other a temperature control. The car was black, but after a few minutes it would be comfortable. These rear units were used through 1956 on Buick, Olds and Cadillac.

— Leo V. Seicshnaydre Jr., Gulfport, Miss.

A. Thanks for sharing that experience. I was aware that the pioneering Packard air conditioning system of 1940 also called for removal of the belt in winter, as it, too, had no clutch. I didn’t realize that GM’s postwar system didn’t either. This makes me wonder what car had the first clutch-controlled air conditioning compressor. I found a 1954 Chrysler Airtemp Service Reference Book online, and it makes no mention of a clutch (and the illustrations don’t seem to show one). Does anyone know who was first with this feature? Was it perhaps the Harrison system offered by Pontiac in 1954? That, with Nash in the same year, is generally credited as the first to put all system components under the hood and behind the dashboard.

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

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