Mustangs and Magnetic Media

NATIONAL PARTS DEPOT'S PC VIN DECODING
SOFTWARE BRINGS OUR HOBBY
INTO THE 20TH CENTURY


text by Mark Houlahan
screens by W.L. Durban Publishing

V.I.N. Entry Screen (4k)

For years, anyone worthy of the term "enthusiast" carried around a pocket VIN decoder with them. After all, you never knew when you might stumble upon a Hi-Po GT fastback in a field somewhere and needed to check out the data plate codes. While these books have served a great purpose for many years, they were just the beginning of the research trail. After you verified what you had, several more books including shop manuals, Ford Parts and Service parts books, and paint trim code books were needed to help find parts and restore your find.

Data Plate Entry Screen (12k)

Now, in the '90s, in the world of Pentium power, hard drives, CD-ROMs, gigabytes, and the Internet, the most important sections of these books have been combined into one 1.44Mb floppy disk that will run on any 386 or higher CPU with four megabytes of memory. If I just lost you, skip to the next tech story, if you're starting to drool, read on.

The Mustang Secret Decoder disk is the work of W.L. Durban Publishing, and will soon be sold exclusively through National Parts Depot. The software is for first-generation (1964-1/2 through 1973) Mustangs only, and at this time does not include 1965-67 Shelby VINs. What do you get for the suggested retail of $29.95? A bunch. Besides the typical decoding of VIN and data plate codes, the software can let you pick from associated codes. For instance, you're not sure what the original color is of your interior, but you do know the proper exterior color. After typing in the proper exterior code you can ask to pick from the interior code list, and pull down list will only show the available interior choices for your bodystyle and exterior color using a "filter." This filter reduces the choices to only those that were available from Ford in your combination.

"Pick List" Screen (11k)

Every part of the program has error correction, so if you enter a VIN for a hardtop, but on the data plate you enter a fastback, it will alert you to the error and prompt for a correction.

Easily worth the purchase price is the pull down menu for casting/part numbers for engine parts. Enter all your information, pull down the menu for casting numbers, and look up the part you need for your engine. Application, specifications on the parts, casting number, and Ford part numbers are all listed, and they are also printable.

Production Figures Screen (11k)

We asked several enthusiasts with home computers to try the software out and get back to us with some comments. All of our testers had no trouble getting the software installed and running in just a matter of minutes. Most said the software was so easy to use they didn't even need to look at the supplied owner's manual. One tester, at first, had no mouse support, but it turned out to be an old mouse driver. Once a new mouse for Windows was installed everything was fine. Another tester couldn't run the software due to the fact his CPU was a 286. The instruction booklet sent to us didn't list system requirements, however the new booklet indicates that an IBM-compatible 386 or higher PC with 4MB of memory and 3MB of hard free disk space is required. For 286 or IBM 8088 users, a Minimum Decoder option is available. This software has all the features but runs a bit slower. To run the Minimum Decoder 640KB of memory and 2MB of hard disk space is needed. The program can also be run from the supplied 5-1/4 inch diskettes.

Everyone who tested the software was very pleased with what they would get for their purchase price. Several testers thought there should be more printing options. While you can use the print screen key for any part of the program, when you use the print function you can only print casting numbers and engine specs.

Colors Screen (10k) Casting Numbers Screen (13k)

From Mustang Monthly, June 1996 Issue, Volume 19, Number 4, page 68.
Copyright © 1996 by Dobbs Publishing Group, Inc.