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Dusting Off: Hot-Wiring a Car

First, the obvious: we don’t actually endorse stealing cars. But still, it’s nice to know that in a pinch, all you need to do to escape your pursuers is shimmy the lock of the nearest parked car, reach under the dashboard, connect a couple of wires and peel out just in time to wink at the goon coming around the bend, gun in hand.

Sure, he’d probably shoot out the rear windshield, but we all know those bullets never hit anyone.

So in the spirit of nostalgia, we’ve put together a quick guide to hot-wiring, along with the ideal circumstances under which you’d be doing it. Use this information only for good...

The Bottom Line: Hot-wiring has essentially become obsolete thanks to steering locks and electronic chips embedded in keys.

The Heyday: The A-Team era, or anytime before 1986, when cars had a carbureted engine and single-ignition coil and distributor.

Easiest Car to Hot-Wire: 1945 Chevrolets—the post-WWII models had an inside hood release, so the starter could always be activated whether the ignition switch was on or off.

User’s Manual: If you lost the keys to your 1978 Ford pickup truck or find yourself in an old episode of Dukes of Hazzard, here’s a quick tutorial:

—Remove the plastic panel from the steering column. —You’ll see three pairs of wires. Most often, the red pair is the set that provides power to the car, and the brown pair handles the starter. Disconnect the red wires from the cylinder and strip the plastic from the ends. —Twist the red wires together. This will power the dashboard and lights. —Carefully connect the red wires to the brown wires. You should see a spark and hear the engine fire up. Once it’s started idling, separate and cover the ends of the starter wires. (Note: These wires are still live after the vehicle has started.)

Hurry, Roscoe P. Coltrane is likely in hot pursuit.