Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
June 2002

Columnist — Allen Wright

Buying Auto Parts for your Restoration:
Do you Get What you Pay For?

The 1963 Plymouth Belvedere Super Stock project is completed. A little fine-tuning and it will be perfect.

On every restoration project you learn something new. Instead of going for some of the less expensive parts on the Belvedere, I used names I knew and trusted. I paid a little more for some things but I am confident that the performance will show the quality of the parts.

As with everything there are some high and low times with a project car. Here are a few that I experienced:

I bought a good name transmission filter and gasket from a reputable transmission rebuilder. Unfortunately, the automatic transmission leaked almost immediately. The cause? A cheap cork gasket. I repaired it with a Fel-Pro Performance gasket and the leak is gone. I hope that filter that was originally installed is better than the gasket.

Header gaskets. I knew this but I forgot at the time of installation. I used the set marked "For all headers! Will not blow out!" Guess what blew out? You don't buy those headers. You buy the ones for the custom application.

I checked with the manufacturer of the headers and the correct number and manufacturer of the right gaskets was located. I installed the correct gaskets…again, no leaks.

It is interesting to note that if I had read the instructions that came with the headers, I would have known the gasket to use.

Air filtration. There was no doubt that for the Plymouth that I would use the K&N Filter for both the intake and crankcase breather. The air filter wiped out a $50 bill.

I have a belief that K&N has a good product and they are a big supplier to car events and drag racing. I have no technical knowledge; their technical written material is good enough for me.

What a surprise to find that the June 2002 issue of Hot Rod did an air filter shootout. Hot Rod said "As you can see, there was little difference between the filters tested, though the paper element [Purolator] did lose a few ticks as compared to the performance units."

Hot Rod went on to say "In fact, the power numbers are so close as to be identical compared to testing repeatability." What kind of a deal is this? I purchased the most expensive air cleaner element only to learn that the Purolator does about the same for $5.99? The K&N guys must be cranked up on this article. I can't wait to see the July Hot Rod for K&N's response.

On another subject, have you noticed the high mileage oils that some companies are marketing? I'm talking about the brands like Max-Life. These products are specially designed for high mileage cars over 75,000 miles.

Why are they doing this now? They know that come 2003, motor oils using an additive that contains phosphorus — called ZDDP — will be phased out.

What is ZDDP? It is zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate and it is a great antiwear additive and antioxidant that contains phosphorus. But some believe that phosphorus is bad because it clogs up the emissions systems, particularly the catalytic converter.

So why does this affect anything? The new motor oils without ZDDP will be designed for the newer cars and will not have backward compatibility. This means you won't be able to use the new formulation of motor oils on pre-2003 or 2004 cars.

So this is what we are going to end up with: two different types of motor oils. One kind will be what we have now, with normal treatments of ZDDP. The other will have the new formulation for new cars.

Most older cars were designed for oils high in anti-wear additives. If you have an old car, this could be a major issue. Most racing oils and high performance oils have a lot of antiwear additives present.

Every now and then I see someone who still has some cans of R-12 for sale at high prices. I don't believe this will happen with oils with ZDDP in them. But I do believe that the oils marketed in 2003 and beyond that meet the new standard will be pricey as they enter the market.

I recently returned from a business trip to Asia. I was gone over three weeks and spent some time in Malaysia. Very few people there are of good cheer now that there are major conflicts everywhere.

When I got home, the new Jack In the Box commercial was the best statement I heard: "We are the best country in the world." I am on board.

Originally published in the June 2002 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright June 2002 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.