Q&A with Kit Foster: October 18, 2012

Publish date:

Q. Regarding the 1967 Mustang convertible in the “7s Collection” of Robert Plummer, written up by John Gunnell on pages 30-31 of the Aug. 23 issue, it is described and shown (front view) as being among the 1 percent of such cars to have a bench seat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Mustang with a bench seat. Does that mean if it is an automatic, that it also has a column shift?

— Ed Thompson, Milwaukee, Wis.

A. I don’t remember seeing one either, but after some online research I see why. The “bench” seat for ’60s Mustangs looks very much like the buckets, at first glance. There’s just a center section joining what look like ordinary buckets, and it seems to have a fold-down backrest that could serve as an arm rest. It looks pretty uncomfortable for a middle passenger. Pictures I’ve seen show the shifter on the floor tunnel in the same position it would be in a console. The console itself is just a thin extrusion that sits atop the driveshaft tunnel. It has hardly any depth. Apparently, there are enough of them that you can buy an upholstery kit.


Q. I have a 1979 Lincoln Town Car. The windshield and back light were removed during restoration for installation of a new vinyl top. The installer sealed the glass with a tar-like substance and got it on the leather seats and on the dash pad. I was wondering what I can use to clean it off the seats and dash that will not harm them or remove their color.

— Eric Nelson, Reedsburg Wis.

A. Without knowing more about the tar-like substance and your car’s upholstery material I hesitate to recommend any specific product. If I were in your shoes, I’d ask the installer (assuming we were still on speaking terms) what product was used. The package should tell you what solvents will remove excess “substance.” Then try some of the solvent on a hidden section of your upholstery (perhaps by removing the rear seat cushion). If you can’t find out what the proper solvent is, get a sample of the tar-like substance (if the installation was really messy you may be able to scrape some off without doing damage) and try various solvents to see how well they work in softening the gunk. Then do the damage test on the hidden section of material. Repeat until you find a combination that works. Possible helpful hint: any homemaker will tell you that WD-40 makes a pretty good household solvent, in addition to performing the intended water-displacement tasks. Related corollary: WD-40 is not a lubricant. Don’t use it as one. It won’t last, but it will trap grunge that will gum up whatever you were trying to lubricate.


Q. A friend of mine was going through his shelves, looking for some brass contact distributor caps, and came across this unusual V-8 cap. Outwardly it looks like an ordinary “window” style cap as used on millions of GM eight-cylinder engines from 1957-74. Closer inspection shows one of the terminals to be a dummy – it has a non-conductive plastic insert in place of the normal metal one. This insert sticks up into the wire tower. The insert has been machined to clear the rotor just like all the metal inserts, so clearly the engine will run (on seven) with this cap. The only identification on it is “A-28” cast on the inside. What is the purpose of this cap? The only thing we can think of it is that either it goes with some piece of test equipment (perhaps to measure maximum coil output) or is some sort of “ringer” for one of those troubleshooting tests.

— Larry Claypool, Frankfort, Ill.

1018-qa-dist cap 2

A. For some reason it conjures up the notion of those cars rigged to demonstrate spark intensifiers at fairs and carnivals (increasingly confined to old car shows, now that modern cars seldom have distributors). However, it doesn’t make sense in that context either. I think you’re right that it’s for some diagnostic or experimental purpose, where one dead cylinder is part of the experiment. Readers, do you know what it’s for?

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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