Knowing your pillars
Q: Hi, Greg. What exactly are the pillar that so many car articles mention, such as in A-pillar, B-pillar and so on. I know this is probably an elementary question, but to a retired older gal like myself, I always wonder. Amy L., Illinois.
A: Amy, no problem as every question is a good one. The pillars mentioned in these articles refer to the pieces of steel that attach a roof to the car. The A-pillar is the windshield of the car’s support system. It is the only “pillar” that is a must on every car built that has a windshield.
The B-pillar is the piece of metal that separates the middle of that car’s front and rear doors and acts as support behind the first set of side windows. A four door sedan or a coupe will have a “B-pillar. Now, if you buy a hardtop, there is no B-pillar.
C-pillars are the back of the fixed top’s attachment to the body on sedans and coupes. If you have a hardtop where when the windows are all down there is no pillar, the C-pillar is still called a C-pillar.
A final D-pillar is common in station wagons and SUV/Crossovers, and follow the C-pillars to the rear as the final structural support from the roof to the body. The photo attached easily explains all the pillars.
Chevy 348 engine
Q: Greg, was Chevy’s 348 engine its first really high performance engine in big block form? I know it grew into a 427 later. Thanks, Ron P., Pennsylvania.
A: Ron, yes, Chevy’s 348 engine came to life in 1958 as a big-block powerplant for heavy duty trucks and Chevrolet automobiles, too. Called the “W-Head” Turbo-Thrust 348, it came with everything from a two barrel carb to four barrel to three twos.
This engine then grew into the famous “she’s real fine my 409” high performance engine that tore up the drag strips from 1961 to 1963. The 409 was availabe through 1965, when it was replaced by the all new 396 Mark IV “mystery motor” design that debuted at the Daytona 500 in 1963 as a 427.
As for a “W head” 427, you are correct that one was produced, that being the 427 “W-head” built for drag racers only in 1963. It came with a special two piece aluminum manifold and put out a conservative 430 horsepower under the option code Z11. Anyone could have walked into a Chevy dealer in 1963 and bought one, but few knew of the Z11 code other than the drag teams.
From 1965 on, however, the new big block “mystery motor” replaced the “W-heads,” and came in sizes 366-396-402-427 and 454 through the early 1970s. The 366 was a truck engine, while the others powered the famous Chevelles, Novas, Corvettes and full-size Impalas.
Thanks for your question, and you can still buy a big block “mystery style” crate motor from Chevy all the way up to 572 inches.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse News Service and welcomes reader questions on collector cars, old-time motorsports and auto nostalgia at 303 Roosevelt St, Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Zyla: Pillars and Chevy 348
Knowing your pillars