So, for the past five or six months or so, I’d been having trouble with my ‘68 fastback Mustang missing. At first it was intermittent and I would dink around a little with the carb or the timing and the problem would fade for a week or so, but it always came back. I drove the car less and less because of it. Running on seven in that car wasn’t too bad, until the miss started to get consistent.
I checked all the plugs and they seemed okay. Not the prettiest, but none were fouled or broken. One was a tiny bit loose. For a week after all that, the car ran great again, but the misfire returned.
I wasted a few more weeks, driving my other cars, scratching my head, trying to figure out what could be causing the problem. Everything looked fine. Nothing was fried.
Then, one night, my best friend, Eddie was over and us three wanted to go out to dinner.
Eddie had the back seat out of his ‘68 Camaro, my ‘68 Mustang convertible is still not done from the engine swap because my husband and I have been too busy and the rest of our cars are 2-seaters. I offered up my seven-cylinder wonder and because Eddie is the ultimate car guy, he popped the hood and started inspecting the car as I had, except he narrowed it down to the #6 cylinder by letting the car run for a little and seeing which header didn’t heat up.
Busting out an old spark plug, he put the wire to that one and grounded it on the intake. It was sparking, but very weakly–which explained the intermittent misfiring. He sighed and happened to look down…at the coil…and said, “Did you spill some oil on the coil recently or is it leaking?”
“Huh?” I looked down, too. “Holy shit. No, I didn’t spill any and that looks more like seepage anyway.” And I started to think about that particular coil. I’d had it forever. It was on the car when this pic was taken in 1998…
Come to think of it, that coil was on the car when I moved in 1996…and then I remembered the very day I bought that coil.
For Christmas in 1993, my mom (of all people!) had bought me a Mallory electronic ignition change over kit which I’d tossed the points and installed in the stock distributor a few days later…which fried three cheap stock coils before I realized that they couldn’t keep up with the Mallory.
So what did I do? Well, I marched on down to SuperShops. Yes, you read that right…SuperShops (remember them?!). I’d never been in there before, but I knew they had the best chance in town of having what I needed.
The scent of fresh tire rubber assailed my nose as I walked through the door. Then, I might as well have put a big target on my forehead and a Kick-Me sign on my back because the jackasses behind the counter not only saw some dumbass chick coming toward them, but she’d also driven up in a Ford.
They tightened their bow-ties and looked at each other in horror. I could hear the silent “No, I don’t wanna help her, you help her. Sucks to be you.” pass between them as I made it to the counter.
I suffered through the obligatory, “Of course it’s broken, you’re driving a Ford” comment and got to the matter at hand. What I’d needed was a new coil.
“Well, how do you know you need a new coil?”
“The old one doesn’t work anymore.”
“But are you sure it’s the coil? You should get someone to look at it for you.”
“Look, I need a coil. Can you help me figure out which one? I don’t have a catalog at home.” (Remember those pre-internet days!?)
“Well, okay, but you can get a stock coil at Kragen or Chief, y’know.”
“I’m running a Mallory changeover and I’ve already fried two coils. I need something better than stock.”
All of a sudden, Mr. Bow-tie’s demeanor changed. He didn’t know what to make of a girl driving a car that wasn’t stock. He seemed almost impressed, or afraid or maybe a little glad I wasn’t just another idiot and whipped out the Mallory catalog from under the counter. At the time, there were three coils.
And Mr. Bow-tie, magically turned into a knowledgeable salesperson trying to sell me the right part for my application. He sold me the ProMaster because it was better than stock, cheaper than a race coil, but still sturdy enough that if I ever wanted to do any upgrades, the coil should be able to handle it.
Fast-forward fifteen years and that coil is the oldest component in that engine compartment with the exception of the wiring. Everything else has been replaced at least once since then. Not a bad life on that old coil and while it had started to fail, it didn’t fry and die, leaving me stranded like the stock ones did. Hat’s off Mallory!
For the time being, I took the later ProMaster Coil out of my convertible. That’s one of the best parts about having two of nearly the same car. And parts have gone in both directions these last six years. Both cars have helped each other out.
I’m back in the saddle of my fastback again and life is very good. Now if I can just scrape together the time to finish off the convertible before summer ends…