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Q&A with Kit Foster: June 14, 2012

Q. This is in response to Barbara Hollinger’s question in the April 19 Q&A about a truck fuel tank. The number 2MB4133P1 is, I’m 99 percent sure, a Mack part number. When I worked as a parts man for Mack Trucks in 1951-52, the part numbers were constructed in this style. My search today on the internet did not confirm this. Mack may now be using a different part number system. I suggest that the tank’s owner contact a collector of vintage Mack trucks.

Bill Bourne, via e-mail

A. Thanks. I was pretty sure it was from a truck. Mack has many aficionados among truck collectors, so Ms. Hollinger should be able to find someone interested, perhaps in the American Truck Historical Society (


Q. I have a bone-stock 1948 Ford Super Deluxe two-door V8 with 52,000 miles that needs a new rear main seal. Can it be replaced in the car? Does the top half need to be replaced? I had the main and rod bearings replaced 15 years ago at 47,000 miles. I have a new seal kit that looks like rope. Is there a better or newer type seal kit?

Ken Snyder, Fremont, Neb.

A. I suspect there’s a tool for installing this rope seal, as readers commented for the Dodge seal replacement (Q&A Mar. 8 and Apr. 12). Like the Dodge, it can probably be done in place. And yes, you should replace the whole thing.


Q. Regarding the last year for carburetors on (“domestic,” I presume) cars (Q&A May 10), my vote is 1988. I’m fairly sure the short run of 1988 Olds Cutlass Supreme Classic coupes (rear drive) had a carburetor on the 307 V8 motor, and probably other GM V8s of that year as well. Speaking of Olds, what was the last year one could get a three-speed or four-speed manual transmission on a Cutlass, in any of its forms (442, Supreme, Salon, Calais, etc.)? I don’t know the answer.

Ed Thompson, Milwaukee, Wis.

A. With respect to the carburetor, you’re on the right track but you didn’t go far enough. As for the Cutlass manual transmission, as they say, it’s complicated. That’s because there were so many Cutlasses, in large measure because Olds discovered that the “Cutlass” name was golden — for a time, anything with that badge would sell. The first Cutlass, of course, was a sports coupe in the new-for-1961 intermediate F-85 line. A Cutlass convertible was added for 1962, and in 1964 it became the upscale series of the new A-body intermediate. It continued in that vein through the third-generation A-body up to 1972. With the Colonnade bodies in 1973, Cutlass became nearly synonymous with Oldsmobile’s “A-line,” gaining suffixes for increasing opulence: “S,” “Supreme” and “Salon.” This continued through the end of the downsized fifth-generation A-bodies in 1981.

1982 came the many faces of Cutlass. There was a new front-wheel drive A-body Cutlass Ciera, a Cutlass Supreme in the G-body line (as the old rear-drive A-body had been renamed) and yet another Cutlass Supreme on the new front-drive W platform. Then in 1989 the N-platform Calais was renamed “Cutlass Calais,” perpetuating the three-Cutlass, three-platform tradition. It didn’t last. The Cutlass Calais was replaced by the Achieva in 1992. From 1997 to 1999, Olds had a Chevy Malibu clone named – you guessed it – Cutlass.

But you asked about manual transmissions. Cutlass Calais offered a five-speed, right to the end in 1991. The Cutlass Supreme International Coupe had a five-speed, too, and the Cutlass Supreme S had one in 1992. But you asked about three- and four-speed manuals. For that we have to go back to 1980 and the Cutlass Salon and Supreme, which offered a three-speed. For a four-speed manual we retreat once again, to 1979. All this is based on a quick scan of the Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999.


Q. In the May 10th issue a question was raised about the last cars with a carburetor. As far as GM is concerned I believe it was the 1990 307 Olds engine used by all GM divisions. The Olds V-8 never got fuel injection and 1990 was the last year of usage.

Phil Aubrey, Merlin, Ore.

A. I think you’ve nailed it. The 307, used in some models of all five GM lines in 1990, was the last American passenger car engine with a carburetor. Ford had converted the workhorse 302, also used by Mercury and Lincoln, to fuel injection in 1983, but a carbureted four and a Police Interceptor 351 were available through 1986. Chrysler Corporation offered a carbureted 318 in the rear-drive Fifth Avenue/Diplomat/Fury models through 1989, while AMC’s last came in their final year as an independent, in the 258 cid straight-six 1986 Eagle. If we’re allowed to venture off-road, we could count the Jeep Wrangler, which used that carbureted 258 six right through 1990, effectively tying GM’s hold on the record. The common thread for all these carbureted engines is that they came at the tail end of production, when re-engineering for fuel injection was not considered cost-effective.

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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