Q&A: August 15, 2019 Edition

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Q. I believe the power door lock button on the 1958 Cadillac (Q&A June 6 and July 11) was located in the odd place (in the middle of the upper door panel) with the thought that you would lock the doors with the button as you stood up to get out. No one back then rode around with the doors locked. Also, as you sat in the Sixty Special, there were six window buttons “at hand” to your side and this helped to sort it all out. My wife says this button should be for the vent. I have given up on that argument.

I added the power locks to my 1958 Cadillac Biarritz. The mount for the switch is already welded to the back of the trim panel on most cars. I spent five hours cutting out the two holes for the switch face. After 43 years the holes are still perfect. Every lock knob I have seen has a gold lightning bolt. The knob seems thinner in 1959, as all parts got thinner to be more modern. One more note: a man in Baxter Springs, Kan., used to follow wide loads in his black ’58 Fleetwood Sixty Special. Back then the follow car had a sign in the back window: “WIDE LOAD.” There he was, being 79.9 inches wide himself.
— Craig Wood, Lenexa, Kan.

A. Automotive ergonomics have come a long way since the 1950s, but there are still some head-shakers. I recently bought a 7-year-old BMW as my daily driver, because, well, just because… It followed three successive Infinitis. The “Infies” all had the trunk and fuel filler releases very conveniently located in the driver’s door arm rest. A simple thumb motion would operate them. On the BMW the trunk release is on the edge of the forward driver’s door jamb, a long reach from the sitting position. I recently discovered it’s more easily operated with my left foot, although it’s not really a foot switch and will surely suffer from repeated kicking. Fortunately, there are two other ways to open the luggage compartment: with the “smart” fob that substitutes for an ignition key, and by waving one’s foot under the rear bumper (Ford ballyhoos a similar feature, but I think you have to actually kick some sort of actuator). I’ll let you know in a few years how this relationship works out. I have a few innate misgivings about a car with no spare tire and no dipstick.

As for WIDE LOAD, I think the widest cars of that bloated era were the 1960 Ford, Edsel and Mercury lines. They topped out at 81.5 inches.Although the FoMoCo brands retreated below 80 inches for 1961, the WIDE LOAD era was not over. The 1961-’63 Imperials measured 81.7 inches at their widest point.

Q. I have several GM cars and recently I have noticed “bubbles” – like the headliner is losing its adhesive. Is there a fix or prevention? All the cars are stored inside, climate controlled, with at least two windows down for ventilation.
— Eric Anderson, Iowa

A. Editor Angelo Van Bogart has some wisdom: “I have owned more than a dozen 1980s GM vehicles and there’s no rhyme or reason as to when the headliner adhesive begins to fail, but there is one truth and that is that the adhesive will fail. I’ve had two 1980s Caprices with fewer than 20,000 [miles] and both headliners have failed. One car was stored very well and the other was likely stored poorly, though that car still cleaned up well. I just don’t think there’s any way to avoid it.”

As for repair, my thought is that you may be able to carefully inject some adhesive behind the liner, then press the bubbled area up into place. Experiment, if you can, with some sample materials off the car. Replacing an entire headliner is not a simple task.

Q. Regarding the July 4 issue discussion about what people called the “glove box,” we always called it the “monkey box.” I’ve heard all the names mentioned in the column.
— Norm Watts, via e-mail

Q. I was raised in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which is in the northeast part of the state. As a kid, my father would call the “glove compartment” simply “the dash.” For example: “look in the dash and see if I left a map there.” I grew up with “dash” and/or “glove box.” My Model A has only a pocket in the driver’s door. My Porsche Boxster has an accessory glove box located behind the seats (at shoulder height). My Smart car has a pocket in the back of the passenger seat. Our Kia Optima has a regular glove box.
— Dick Bailey, via e-mail

A. My Model A is a Standard Roadster, and has pockets in both kick panels. As for storage space, my “new” BMW mentioned above also has less space in the center console and door bins than the Infiniti it replaced, although the actual glove compartment in the dash is about the same size. I guess the BMW driver demographic is considered less prone to clutter.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail
oldcars@krause.com or mail to: Q&A, Old Cars,
5225 Joerns Drive, Suite 2, Stevens Point, WI 54481.

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