Going For Gear

I have a ’74 Satellite with an automatic transmission and a mildly modified 360 engine. The engine makes approximately 350 horsepower. I don’t race this car, but use it for cruising from time to time. It is just your basic Sunday driver and not a commuter vehicle. What I want is a little more get-up and go. I don’t want to bother with further engine modifications.

It seems to me the car is geared very high, and I believe the axle ratio is 2.73:1. I was considering a gear change to give the car more pep off the start and through the gears. Since I rarely drive the car long distances or on the open road, I was contemplating a gear change to a 3.90:1 gear set. Would this be too much gear? What is your opinion of a 3.55:1 gear? Is this a better choice for my car? Thanks for any input.

Mark Tharp - Via moparmusclemagazine.com

Mark, you know better than I how you use your car, but you are right about the high gear ratio making the car seem lazy, especially off the line. Either of the two gear ratios you are considering will make a dramatic difference in the way your car feels when the power is on. Personally, I would select the 3.55 gears, since the car will be just a little less wound-up on the freeway.

Dying for Dye

My car is a red ’68 Road Runner with a black interior. I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and during the summer, the sun beats down on the car like a blow torch. The car does not have air conditioning, and the main reason I bought this car is to cruise it in the summertime. In the heat of the day, even with all of the windows down, the temperature inside of the car is unbearable. It’s so hot, I have to find some shade and just park the car. As you can imagine, by the time I get anywhere I’m roasted.

I’m done with the black interior. I can’t really afford to replace the interior right now, but I think white will look good with the red exterior paint. I have seen various brands of spray vinyl dye at the parts house, and wonder how it would work. I know it isn’t as good as replacing the interior parts, but as a temporary measure I wanted to just paint the interior.

Phillip Norstrom - Via moparmusclemagazine.com

Phillip, as you have found out, though it looks great, a black interior isn’t all that cool while driving on scorching days. I would hesitate to recommend painting an interior, and I am even more hesitant when the painting involves a color change. When the color change involves an extreme change, such as going from black to white over the entire interior, I’m outright opposed to the idea. However, you indicate that this would be a temporary stop-gap solution, so I’ll give you my best advice. First, you’ll have to disassemble the interior and remove each panel or part that will be painted. This will include separating the seats from the seatbacks. Next, clean everything perfectly with a solvent and vinyl prep, as supplied by a paint supply shop. Forget the spray cans, and pick up a professional vinyl paint product, such as SEM, and shoot the parts individually with a paint gun.

Note that the paint will inevitably become worn, scuffed, scratched, and otherwise damaged, and the original black will come through. This solution will have quite a limited life, but if you are intent on painting the interior, the above process will work the best until you can purchase the new pieces in the desired color.


I have a Duster and am doing all the rebuilding on my own. I have done quite a bit of work, including adding a 360 engine and 727 transmission. I just completed a paint job in SubLime urethane paint using basecoat clearcoat paint from PPG. The paint looks pretty good and I have no drips or sags, but it was my first complete paint job. The problem is that I’ve got some “orange peel” all over. It isn’t terrible, but I want that show-car smooth surface and a mirror reflection. I know to get there I need to cut and buff the clear. I shot three full coats of clear so there is plenty of thickness, but I’m a little nervous about attacking that shiny fresh paint with sandpaper. I’ve buffed and polished several cars, so I’m confident about that part of the job, but could use some tips on the wet-sanding process.

Joe Molloy - Via moparmusclemagazine.com

It might seem drastic to take sandpaper to that gleaming fresh paint, but that is just how the job begins—with wet-sanding of the surface. Specialty sandpaper of very fine grit is used here, which creates sanding scratches of minimal depth so that they can be polished out in the buffing process. There is no questioning that a variety of paint sins can be improved by the cut and polish process, but it holds true that the better the quality of the finish “off-the-gun” the better the final results. Ideally, we would recommend the finest paper practical for the sanding process, but if the finish is showing fairly heavy texture or “orange-peel” a coarser paper to begin may be the only practical choice. Generally speaking, 1,000-grit is the coarsest normally used for wet-sanding the finish, while 1,500 is the norm, and as fine as 2,000-grit is preferred by some.

During the sanding process, it is important to keep the surface wet, and clear of sanding debris. An ample supply of water is required, most commonly supplied by a large sponge and bucket. Use a small amount of dish soap in the water to help lubricate the surface, and work the sandpaper in long, consistent strokes. To improve leveling, it is advisable to use a flexible hand pad or block to back up the sandpaper, rather than working the surface by hand. The objective is to get a perfectly smooth and flat surface, devoid of any gloss. It is impossible to tell if the paint is sufficiently sanded while the surface is still wet, since the water will impart a false gloss to the paint. The procedure is to sand, wipe dry and check, and then sand some more or move on. Although wet-sanding is not particularly tough to do, it requires patience and time.