Q&A with Kit Foster: April 2, 2009

Discussions on 1933 Chevy serial numbers; the HT-4100 engine; and the Consul Classic 315 sedan.
Publish date:

Q. In your response to Roy B. Williams (Jan. 29 “Q&A”), you refer to a Dec. 12 “Q&A” column. I assume that was a typo. My issues were dated Dec. 11 and 18. I’m guessing you were referencing the Dec. 18 question/comment from Dennis Mondrach that identified the “only three Ford-approved and -licensed sources for Ford VIN cert labels.” Bob Cleaver, Huntingtown, Md.

A. Indeed, my clumsy typing fingers mangled the date, and none of us in the editing chain caught it. It’s the Dec. 18, 2008, issue that mentions the Ford-approved sources. While I’m correcting errors, I must admit to misidentifying Dave Myers’ 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV in the Feb. 5 issue. We all know that the Mark IV was not built in 1964, as those clumsy fingers typed.

Q. In reply to Ken Sonner’s 1933 Chevrolet question (Jan. 1 “Q&A”), there appear to be some transposed or incorrect numbers. The body number “5, 7196” is incorrect. The first digit should be a letter. My guess is an “S,” indicating it was made at the St. Louis Fisher body plant. Most Chevrolets shipped to the north central states were made in Janesville, Wis., but that plant was closed in 1933. A Janesville body number would start with a “J.” The 7196 is a production sequence number for that body style, indicating it would be a rather late car. The trim number is also incorrect. The Eagle/Master series would have been 25, which is the common brown mohair. All 1933 four-doors had the stationary vent/quarter window. The starter-gas pedal was called the “Starterator” and was a new feature for the ’33 Master. All Masters through 1937 were so equipped. Free wheeling was standard on ’32s, and on ’33 Masters. The sidemounts would have been a factory option and the trunk a dealer-installed accessory. Early CA model cars were called “Eagle.” The name changed to “Master” for late cars. The front door vent window divider lowered with the glass on the Eagle; the divider was stationary on the Master. The Master also had a vent window crank handle that matched that of the main window, but shorter. This change took place in March 1933. The serial number would also designate the plant at which the car was assembled, and also the month. I’d suggest that Mr. Sonner join the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (vccachat.org) for complete information. The club frequently advertises in Old Cars Weekly. Gene Schneider, West Allis, Wis.

A. Thanks for filling in all the information on the 1933 Chevy. The errors in the body and trim numbers resulted from my misreading Mr. Sonner’s handwritten letter. I agree with your suggestion on joining the club. No one is more likely to know about your car than people who have one like it. Make and model clubs are the place to find experts on most any kind of car, in this case Chevrolet.

Q. In the Jan. 1 issue of Old Cars Weekly, a letter in the “Sound Your Horn” section titled “Sticking Up for the Seville” mentioned the “even worse 5100 small V-8 engine.” Do you have a comment on this engine? To my knowledge, what the letter writer, R.D. Olsen, is referring to is the 4100 engine that became the 4500 and ended up the 4900 engine. I have an Eldorado Biarritz with the 4900 engine that I’ve had for 12 years. It still uses no oil and gets 24 to 26 mpg on the highway. I’m interested in comments on this engine as it’s been referred to as the high-tech engine used by Cadillac for years. Gary Thieme, Waseca, Minn.

A. I expect that Mr. Olsen was referring to the HT-4100, as that was the engine used in the Seville from 1982 to ’87, as well as a number of other models. I have no personal experience with it, and thus no comment except to note that the internet is replete with references to its unreliability. These may have been teething problems, for the later 4500 and 4900 versions are called “enlarged and improved.” Comments from readers with personal experience are welcome.

Q. I recently picked up some old auto brochures from the 1960s at an auction. One of them described a “Consul Model 315,” sold by Ford. I’ve never heard of this car before. From the brochure, it seems like it was imported from Dagenham, England. Larry Murray, Lake Park, Minn.

A. Yes, the Consul Classic 315 sedan and a similarly styled Consul Capri 335 coupe, were built by Ford of Britain from April 1961 to September 1963. A Capri GT model remained in production through July 1964. The styling, while bearing heavy American influence, was done in Britain. The first Consul model appeared in 1950, Ford’s first new postwar English car. It was the company’s first unitary construction model, and the first, with its Zephyr sibling, to use the MacPherson strut suspension designed by Ford engineer Earle S. MacPherson. These “ordinary” Consuls were built in two generations through 1962, when they were succeeded by the Cortina.

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