To Stop a Car Thief

Sep 05, 2015

RAY: Back in the 1960s a mechanic I knew had a gas station / repair shop, which meant that many of his customer's cars were left outside in the lot overnight. He had some stolen and couldn't protect them from the hotwire thieves that came at night. Back in those days, hotwiring a car and driving it away was a pretty easy thing to do. So he came up with a quick, simple and effective way to discourage them.

He would pop the hood, reach under and in a few seconds render the car unstartable. The neat thing was that if anyone tried to start it, it would seem to want to start. It would cough and hit on an occasional cylinder, like vroom, vroom vroom, and even if they opened the hood, examination under there revealed nothing obvious.

The next morning he would reach under the hood and in 10 seconds or less have the car running. The question is, what was he doing?

RAY: What he did was elegant. He simply swapped two of the wires connected to the distributor. So he would take the coil wire and swap it with, say, the number one spark plug wire. All that would fire would be number one spark plug. So you turn the key and it doesn't start but it makes you think it's going to start. So who's our winner this week?

TOM: Congratulations to Larry Bouterie from Charlottesville, VA!

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