How can I tell a 348 from a 409?

Q: Greg, I enjoyed your articles on the 409 Chevy. How can you tell the difference between a 409 and a 348 engine from the outside? Thanks, Bob M., email from Illinois.

A: Bob, if both are factory stock and not tampered with, the only visual cue is the position of the oil dipstick. On the 409, it was on the passenger side between number two and four cylinders. The 348 had it on the driver's side. Now, with this said, the 348 and 409 oil pans interchange, so if you're dealing with someone you don't know, don't take it for granted. Make sure you check the numbers on the block to make absolutely sure. Many 348s were sold as 409s because of this oil pan scam.

Collector car insurance options

Q: Greg, I am planning on buying a Lincoln or Cadillac from either the late Fifties or early Sixties and want to know about insurance. Can I put a collector car on my regular car insurance policy or do I need to go to special collector car insurance company like I see advertised in Auto Roundup and Hemmings magazines? How do you insure your collector cars? Earl L., Carbondale, Pennsylvania.

A: Earl, I have my '59 Edsel and '72 Challenger insured with American Collectors Insurance, one of the best known specialty car insurers in the industry. Now, before I turn this answer into a blatant free ad for American Collector Insurance (and ruin my credibility), I want to emphasize that many other reputable collector car insurance companies exist and specialize in antique, classic, muscle car and hot rod insurance. The other specialists include Hagerty, Grundy, J.C Taylor, Condon Skelly and a host of others. Additionally, standard car policy companies like Geico, Farmers, Progressive, State Farm, Erie and other national companies can take care of underwriting a collector car in one way or another, so you do have options.

You can contact these specialty companies yourself with a phone call, an email or through an Independent Insurance Agent in your area. If you go with an Independent that aligns with American Collectors, Grundy, Hagerty or any other specialty underwriters, the price of the policy will be the same as if you contacted them yourself.

I've been a customer of American Collectors since 1985 and through all these years I've had only one claim. It was handled in a most professional manner and a payment for the damage arrived in the mail promptly.

As the owner of a collector car with insurance, you'll have some limitations. American Collectors Insurance is similar to other companies as for actual usage. My policy allows me to drive my cars up to 2,500 miles each year, although they also offer 5,000 and 7,500 mile policies, too. (see www.americancollectors.com or call 1-800-360-2277 for more).

When you pick the company you want to work with, you'll find there are certain other restrictions, like keeping the car garaged, which each agent will gladly explain. Also, in consideration of the state you live in, you can title your car as an antique or just go with a regular plate title which does not limit use as most all states have rules for antique tagged vehicles. Both my Edsel and Challenger are titled as antiques.

Good luck on your upcoming purchase, and let us know what happens.

Disclaimer: The author receives no monetary consideration, gifts or special discounts from American Collectors Insurance in any manner for his endorsement of its services.

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(Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia and old-time motorsports at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com)