Q: Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm sure this is probably top-secret information, but maybe you can let me in on the secret. For years I have tried to find a cross-reference that will tell me which parts from one car will fit into another car. I want to know this so I can advertise to the largest group of people who could use what I'm selling. For instance, I have a set of aluminum alloy wheels from a 1979 Mercury Capri RS Turbo. I suspect they would cross over to a Ford Mustang, but for which model years? Is there a Web site or any place I could go to get this information?

-- Terry

A: RAY: This information is not classified at all, Terry. It's just expensive.

TOM: As you've concluded, this is valuable information. And there's a company out there that has concluded the same thing.

RAY: Its product is called the Hollander Interchange Manual. And Hollander sells it, on a subscription basis, to places such as junkyards and car restorers--and to any member of the general public willing to pay for it.

TOM: You can contact Hollander on the Web (www.hollander-auto-parts.com) or at 1-800-761-9266. But beware: The manual's not cheap!

RAY: The current book sells for about 400 bucks, and it only goes back to the 1984 model year (not far enough for your '79 Capri wheels). There's a CD-ROM version you can buy that goes all the way back to 1965, but that will set you back about 800 bucks. So unless you're "in the business" or sell parts frequently, it's probably not a worthwhile investment.

TOM: If this is a one-time thing, you might get lucky by cozying up to your local junk man (oops, I mean auto-recycling service professional). If you're really nice, he might do you a favor and look up the Capri wheels for you once.

RAY: But if you come by every week asking him to look up another part for you, he's going to eventually sic his dog on you. And in that case you might as well buy the book, because the emergency-room bill alone is going to run you more than $400. Good luck, Terry.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a small bet with a lady friend about an old advertising slogan. I say it was "When better cars are built, Buick will build them." She says it was Ford that will build those better cars. I bet her a Jackson that I'm right. Please answer this question and save me 20 bucks!

-- Joe

TOM: We take a 10 percent commission on bets, Joe. Actually, you're absolutely right. "When better cars are built, Buick will build them" was Buick's slogan back in 1911.

RAY: Ford, on the other hand, didn't have a slogan in 1911. But from 1912 through 1925, it used the slogan "The Universal Car."

TOM: So I think we can all agree that when better slogans were built, Ford grabbed one.

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