your timing mark is on the harmonic balancer, i believe. you hook the timing light up, and aim it at the balancer, then turn the distributor till you get it lined up. on the balancer is a clip with notches on it, and the wheel next to it has a hash mark on it. you line them up to set the timing. good to hear you have an old school mechanic. just about anyone who knows about old cars hates working on new ones. old cars were built to last. new cars are designed to break before they are paid for. they are also made with individual parts which often require that the mechanic get special tools to work on them. old cars had universal parts, and one part would fit many different cars, which is why an interchange guide is so helpful when you are getting parts for them. the same starter that goes on a firebird, will often be cheaper if you get the part number and check which other cars share it. if you get the same part for a grand prix it might be cheaper. new cars are also designed to be hard to work on, so it's expensive, and beyond the scope of what the average car owner can do. it wasn't that uncommon to see an engine hanging from a tree in someone's front yard 20 years ago, but when was the last time you saw that? i share your mechanic's opinion. i HATE new cars. i hate how much they cost, how cheap made they are, how i can't even change the oil in one.
ii don't feel safe in one either. i'm a paramedic, and i can tell you that the hype about new cars being safer is a huge load of bs. it depends on the type of accident. very few instances occur where you would be safer in a new car. the safety ratings and crash tests are made to see what would happen if a new car got hit BY ANOTHER NEW CAR, not a 2 1/2 ton monster. picture a toyota getting hit by a 77 grand prix. which do you think would win? answer: the toyota would be a speed bump for the grand prix. air bags are dangerous, and crumple zones just mean that your car totals easier. i want a car that's not made out of plastic, fiberglass, and recycled pepsi cans! i like that there's more than 9 feet of steel between me and anything that hits me head on. funny story: about ten years ago, i saw and old guy driving a 76 lincoln rear-end a cavalier at low speed. the cavalier was toast, and the girl in it was freaking out. old guy gets out to check his car, points to the bumper, and says, "you scratched my bumper!" you had to look close to see it. all i could think was, "you coulda had a v8!"
anyway, the rochester is what goes on the car, just make sure you get one big enough for your application. funny story, but sad: went in carquest to order a new carb for my car, and got a blank look form the guy behind the counter. he said, "we don't sell THOSE." looked at me like i had just grown another head, or like he thought i wasn't quite right... screw 'im i went a block away to o'reilly and gave them my money.