When we last saw the A100 Hell Project, I’d junkyard-engineered a new gas pedal as part of my “get this thing on the road as quickly and cheaply as possible” initiative. The lack of headlights, due to a corroded-by-12-idle-years switch, was the next big annoyance I needed to tackle.
It appears that Chrysler used the same headlight switch for damn near every motor vehicle they built from the time of the Bay Of Pigs to the time of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The knob changed over the years, but the low-bidder, 11-cent guts remained the same. You can buy new replacement switches pretty cheaply, but I shudder at the certain horribleness of a Chinese-made knockoff of a component that started out as a hammered-together-by-drunks piece of crap. Fortunately, the late-70s camper van that provided the donor gas pedal was still at my local self-service junkyard, so I headed over there. This intriguing business is a block away, so I’ll be paying them a visit soon.
Before I grabbed the switch from this van, I decided to snag the driver’s seat as well; it’s the correct size for the A100 and will serve as a functional butt-rest until I can get the factory seats recovered in red metalflake Naugahyde with maroon piping. You think I don’t have that much style? Think again, sucka!
The original 1966 A100 switch looks like this. No touchy-feely European-style graphic symbols for those who don’t know English here! This one is frozen completely solid; even in Denver’s bone-dry climate, 12 years of inactivity don’t do low-end electrical components any good.
Here’s the switch from the ’78 van. The big “L” has been replaced by a tiny-font “Lights,” but otherwise not much had changed during the preceding 12 years.
Back at my garage, I contemplated just swapping the switches straight across, but I really wanted the headlight switch to match the “W” wiper switch. Knowing Chrysler, there’s probably a Neanderthal method that allowed the Imperial assembly line to swipe switches from over on the Valiant line.
Hmmm… what’s that little button for?
Yep, pushing the button makes it possible to remove the knob and shaft, though not without a lot of persuading and cursing.
And here we go! The quality of the components makes even 60s GM stuff look sophisticated (though, to their credit, Chrysler didn’t use cardboard gloveboxes in their vans), but who cares?
Ever wonder where the term “Mopar” came from? Yeah, we all know, but it’s still cool to see it as two words.
The new switch works just fine. Next step, now that winter is here: fix the heater!
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