Vintage Auto-Lite Spark Plugs

Spark plugs have been igniting the fuel in your cars engines since the beginning of the early automobiles that have been fueled with gasoline. Where the price of gasoline is going is another story entirely. We won't go there now.

This vintage Auto-Lite spark plug advertising campaign claims their plugs give a similar thrill in performance as Ann Sheridan did in the 1940 film, Torrid Zone.

Spark plugs weren't thrown away back then, but were cleaned and reused until they were used up or failed, unlike today when they are just tossed in the garbage and new ones installed. It's very rare to find a shop with a full blown spark plug cleaning and testing station like was common in the 1940s

1940 Ford Deluxe Dash in a 40 Ford Pickup Truck


I'm thinking of replacing the dash in my 1940 Ford P/U With a 1940 Deluxe Dash !! What do you think.



It's hard to beat that look when you can retain all the original gauges and trim. What's hard for me to understand is why people will install the 40 dash and then remove everything that makes it what it is. They end up with just a silhouette of what it was, loosing completely, the charm and wonderful design work. Guess it's along the same lines as removing door handles and adding hidden hinges, swinging the door backwards etc. You can turn a real car into something that looks plastic. Just my opinion, for what that's worth.


R-10 Borg Warner Overdrive Custom Installation and Operation

"Hello Doug,

I just left a comment on your blog about the Nash OD unit in the 37 Chevy truck...well done BTW!!

I've been trying to find an original R10 OD unit from a early 50's Plymouth, but they are rare and expensive. I'm doing away with the fluid drive in my 48 Desoto for a dry clutch, 3 speed manual. I had been toying with an idea very similar to what you did on your 37 Chevy. I would appreciate a little more info about the R10 unit you used, and what was involved with making it a stand alone unit. My system would be an open drive shaft set-up, but I can have plates and yokes machined to work. Also I'm interested in how you set up your control system, mechanical, or electrical?

Thank you for your time, Brian"


The drive line coupler from the mid 1930's Ford works pretty well on one end and the front shaft can be cut down to accept the same. A flange plate had to be fabricated for both ends on mine but with yours, you would only need to do that on one end. And different applies for the yoke situation for the open drive line as well, opposed to the closed. The open drive-line overdrives are far more plentiful than the enclosed style that I used. I do have another one as well as extra parts, seals etc. most of which would interchange with all.

I eliminated the kick down switch and the mechanical shift lock out safety, on the unit itself. I ran the governor ground/switching circuit through a toggle switch on my dash, before the electric relay. This allows me to be more in control of shift timing. I can split gears with it set up this way.

The down side of removing the safety devices is that you can literally split gears if you operate it improperly.

First engaging the mechanical control with the cable is important. Secondly switching the toggle. The governor kicks in at 25mph which grounds the relay and sends current to the solenoid, which will then engage the mechanical, provided you have the cable pushed in. Engagement won't occur though, until you have no torque coast. This situation is normally achieved with releasing accelerator pressure, however I use the clutch as well in second over but not third over. When I shift to third from second over, I flip the switch down, release accelerator,clutch in, shift,accelerate, and then flip the switch back up, release accelerator to achieve third over.

Fast acceleration shift goes: first gear, second gear, second over, third, and third over.
It gets down the road!

Downshifting is where you can loose your gears easily. Most people won't attempt to mechanically shift out of overdrive while moving. The downshift must be performed as follows: Flip the toggle switch off, apply accelerator in order to gently take up all slack in the freewheeling mode and then pull the cable to achieve lock up again. If you pull the cable at the wrong time, it could mean it's time to replace gears.

I believe it is also critical to run synthetic oil in your Borg Warner R10 overdrive when it is a stand alone unit. It creates a tremendous amount of heat which is probably dissipated better when it is a part of the transmission.

Photo courtesy of Chris Shelton

Old Car for Sale Used to Run Like New LOL

Will be a classic some day.

Ran when last parked.

Used to be like new.

I find it so humorous, reading "For Sale" descriptions.

Hasn't been started since last time it ran.

Ran when parked.

Ran like a top last time I drove it. I'm thinking he must have been on ice to do that.? lol

Easy fix, I just don't have time.

Surface rust, paint is just bubbling a little bit.

1937 Chevrolet Pickup Truck Tire Size

A reader brought up the question, what is the correct tire size?


What is the correct tire size for a 37 chevy pickup.

Thanks, Steve


Thanks for your question.

Standard tire size for the 1937 Chevrolet Half Ton Pickup Truck is 6.00-16 4ply.

Optional were 6.00-16 6ply, 6.50-16 6ply, 6.50-17 6ply, and 7.50-15 6ply. The most popular wheels to use are the 15 inch wheels, referred to as artillery wheels. They are 5-1/2 inches wide. 1937 was the first year for these wheels but they used them for several years following. The wheels would have been black though unlike this example.

Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, I'll see what I can do to help.


Traditional Hot Rod Tail Lights Nite Owls

Traditional hot rods are in a class of their own. Modern, off the shelf parts have now place in the building of traditional hot rods. Making use of the parts that were available in the wrecking yards and what was on the shelf in the 1940's and 1950's is what it's all about. Naturally, picking the "cool parts" and making use of them was what the discerning hot rod builder did and still does today.

Sure there was the "follow the leader" attitude then to a certain extent just as there is today. There wasn't as many aftermarket/engineered parts available then though, so you had to do a little thinking on your own.

One of the subtle but really cool and functional additions you could do to your ride, is add the "Nite Owl" tail lights. They are actually visible from the side. This was the idea of the design in making them dome shaped. Later, car makers actually started using separate lights, called "side marker" lights.

You won't likely be able to just go out and get some of these, but that's all part of what makes your car special. Those hard to find vintage parts. Yes it takes a tremendous amount of time to round up all the stuff to make a car like the 1936 Ford Hot Rod that these lights are on. All the specialty things on this car sets it so far apart from the crowd, it's literally incomprehensible to the average car builder.

You can also see some professional photos of this car in Rod and Custom feature Gentleman's Hot Rod. The writer's mention of the 21st century seat belts is incorrect. The belts are 1950's belts.

1964 Corvette Coupe Restoration

1964 Corvette Sting Ray Restoration starts with initial evaluation to determine where the major problem areas are.

We decided to get a used left door for the car because the original had been busted up and had a bad repair done to it. The metal structural part of the door was damaged too and hadn't been corrected completely. In fitting the replacement door, I realized how much these cars vary from one to another. It took quite a bit of finessing to get the door to fit properly but now fits better I am sure than it did when it was new.

This Corvette had been bumped here and there, but nothing major. The structural metal member in the header was bowed from impact on the left front fender and we were able to get that taken care of pretty nicely.

There were some places of separation in the fiberglass panels and around the windshield opening were it is glued to the metal structure. The metal was quite rusty and the walnut shell blasting did nothing to remove the rust. I used a stripping wheel on that and used a cut off wheel to get down between the metal and fiberglass. I sealed the rust that I couldn't remove, with POR15. I have found this to be the only effective way to seal rust, permanently. After sealing it, I reglued the fiberglass to the metal, using a modern two part panel adhesive.

Good Year Disc Wheels for Gordon Buehrig Victoria

Reader looking for Good Year Disc Wheels to complete his custom Gordon Buehrig Victoria.

 Hi Doug,

I found your webpages while searching for information about Goodyear Air Wheels from the 1932-33 era.  I noticed your photos of General Jumbo wheels and reference to these Goodyear wheels and tires.

I have built a replica of a 1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet that Gordon Buehrig modified into a Victoria Convertible in 1930-32.   He described he used 15” “experimental” Goodyear disk wheels and tires, I have attached a photo of the original car with these wheels mounted.  I have been unable to locate any of these wheels for sale to use on my car, and have used 16” Kelsey Hayes wires with aluminum wheel disks instead to recreate the look.  If you know of any of the original wheels for sale in 15 or 16” size for Ford hubs I would like to follow up on them.  I plan to place some ads in various websites, any suggestions you have would be appreciated.

Thanks, Jack      Vancouver, WA

Nice looking car you've created!

The wheels you are looking for, are rare indeed. I have personally only seen one on ebay.
Finding the correct tires will likely be more difficult as I don't think the 15s are being reproduced. I know the larger diameter are. They aren't a tire that drive well on pavement anyway. I think they were more for soft surface road.

It seems like I remember a set of those wheels in a garage of a collector that I went to look at a 31 Roadster PU. The wheels were NOS and with caps. It's been some time ago when I saw them and they weren't really available at the time, however I will try to find out about them for your project as it seems your project is a deserving recipient for the wheels.

Thanks for the pictures too.  Doug

I just talked to the owner of the nos wheels and he is not going to let them go. He says he has some projects and thinks he might use them. You know how that goes. I'm sorry I couldn't make that happen for you.

Classic Car Seat Cushions Vintage Coolers

Air conditioning in cars in the 1950's and Trucks in the 1960's was almost unheard of except for the Swamp Coolers that were mounted in the passenger window.

Another pretty effective way to stay cooler, was to use the seat cushions that allowed air to circulate behind your back and under your butt. Not many remember these from years ago, but I went on the hunt for some when I was making plans to drive coast to coast in 2007, in my 1937 Chevrolet Pickup Truck. I found a couple of them on e-bay and it was one of my favorite sellers that had them.

I was very glad I had them when I ended up driving in temperatures that topped 100 degrees. I could feel the pleasant breeze behind my back and only imagined what it would have been like without the seat coolers, sitting against the vinyl.