When I got into building and collecting old cars many years ago now, a senior collector advised us newcomers to buy as many parts as we could for the cars that we felt would be part of our permanent collection.  He had an impressive collection of Packards, and bought parts to service them for years to come.  

        This was in the 70s, and you could go into most any parts store and they would have a clutch disk for a 47 Nash 600 Super on the shelf, or a copper head gasket for a 46 Packard small eight hanging up in the back, and, of course, all of the tune-up parts, so there didnt seem to be an urgent need to stockpile parts, but I began to, anyway.  Going to the parts store was fun.  There were no computers and you knew the parts guys by name, and there was always one older guy that didnt have to look at the parts bookshe just knew the parts!  

        I remember going into the parts store one day and asking for a front wheel cylinder kit for a 46 Packard Custom Super 8, and before anyone could look it up, Chris says, Its a one-inch bore; it crosses over to a 57 Chevy rear.  Theres one on the Dorman shelf. N-O-W, Packard has been removed from the list of makes in the parts stores computer, along with Hudson, most Studebaker and other orphan cars.  Fortunately, Chevy, Ford and Chrysler cars have suppliers like the ones that advertise in Southern Wheels Magazine, with online catalogs to supply most every part, but if you are working on an orphan car, good luck!

        Following the advice of my friend from years ago, I buy spark plugs, fuel filters, etc., in quantity and have them when I need them.  My supply of 10mm spark plugs, as used in most 30s and 40s Packards was down to the last four boxes.  I use an AC Delco M8, 10mm 1/4depth, with a 5/8hex head.  I called one of my suppliers that I hadnt bought from in five years or more, and asked if he had the AC M8s in stock.  He told me he didnt, but could get some, and added, You know these are marine plugs, right? I said No, they are M8 automotive, non-resistor plugs.  He came back with, The new ones are marine, resistor plugs.  I asked him when they had changed.  He suggested that I call AC Delco at 800-223-3526, which I did, and they told me they had no history on the plug, but it was now a marine plug and thats all they knew.  

        I contacted an acquaintance who had put the M8 marine plugs in his Packard and he said the car ran well before he put them in, and terrible afterward.  Resistor plugs are for electronic ignition cars and non-resistor plugs are for cars with ignition points  The end game is to get 20,000 volts at the plugs.  

        The M8s are history, so I wont buy any more of them, but have crossed them over to an Autolite 3136 non-resistor plug, which is readily available at Then & Now Auto Parts*, Max Merritt*, Jegs.com, and summitracing.com (the racers know the importance of non-resistor spark plugs!).

        The following is my opinion, based on my years of research, and trial and error:  


        In old car manuals from the 60s back, the suggested rear end and standard transmission lube is 90-weight Hypoid* gear oil, except posi-traction.  It is not sold now anywhere except for use in motorcycles, and I was advised not to use it in automobiles.  I couldnt find ANY!  The new substitute is 80-90 hypoid gear oil, and after talking with many people who are using it, there have been no problems.  One thing to be aware of, if you have your car repaired at a shop, ask what they are using.  They might use a 75-90 silicone, which, from my research should not be used in old carstransmissions and rear ends.  I am using 80-90 Hypoid gear oil now.


        Oil is an ever-evolving lubricant.  The zinc has been cut back in most, but not all oils. I use Valvoline VR-1 Racing Oil. It is rated off-road and still has a significant amount of zinc.  I was told this when I spoke with a rep at Valvoline, and the non-detergent 30-weight still has about the same zinc as it always had.  I use the VR-1 in all my cars that have had the engines completely cleaned (oven-baked) and rebuilt, and Valvoline 30-weight, non-detergent for all pre-60s cars that have not been rebuilt, and I have good oil pressure and have never had bearing failure.

        When I first buy a car (and then every few years), I remove the oil pan, clean it out and clean the oil pump screen and replace the pan gasket.  A caution on tightening the pan bolts is, dont over-tighten them.  Most pan bolts are 1/4bolts and a general torque for a steel oil pan with 1/4grade 5 bolts is 10 ft/lbs.  (Never use an air wrench on an oil pan!  It will bend the pan, creating a wavy bolt surface.)


        There are many types of antifreeze on the market, and the safest thing is to consult your owners manual, but if you dont have a manual, you can look it up online or call the dealer.  In my old cars with cast iron blocks and cast or aluminum heads, I use Peak ethylene glycol antifreeze (green).  It states on the container, for all engines. When I add water, I used only distilled water.


        This is another fluid that changed overnight.  I literally went into the parts store one day and bought DOT 3, and the next day it had been replaced with DOT 3 Hi-Temp Synthetic. They also have a DOT 4 synthetic.  This should not be confused with silicone (DOT 5) brake fluid, which is not compatible with non-silicone brake fluids!  There is also LMA (low moisture activity) brake fluid, as used on most vintage English cars.  I can tell you from experience that if you add conventional DOT 3 to a system that has LMA, the DOT 3 will swell the rubber in the pistons of the calipers and lock up the brakes!  Many brake fluids are not compatible.