5,015 miles, 6 ½ quarts of oil, 13 oz of ZDDP, two sets of driver’s side front wheel bearings, one axle, two tires, one exhaust collector gasket, 35 fuel stops, 414.96 gallons of gas. That is the list of items I used on my trip with two other guys while driving our “restored” old vehicles on Route 66, the Mother Road. That list does not include the tools and parts for the other vehicles we needed to buy while on the trip. We started on the morning of March 26th, 2022, and wound up back home twenty-two days and twelve hours later on April 16th, 2022.
We started driving Route 66 - the entire length, from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California - on April 1, 2022, and arrived in Santa Monica April 15, 2022, 14 days total. To get to Chicago, we left Phoenix six days earlier, March 26, 2022, and took interstates to get there the quickest. After we arrived in Santa Monica, we left for Phoenix using the interstates as well. This is the story of the actual route driving and all of the repairs we had to make while on the journey with our fifty-year old plus, restored vehicles.
My red Route66 and I were nicknamed Little Red Riding Hood, LRRH for short in these accounts. The other 1966 Route66 was gold, so it was nicknamed Goldilocks, GL for short. And the white C10 had a big guy as an owner so, as part of the childhood stories theme, was nicknamed the Big Bad Wolf, or BBW for short.
Most people who travel Route 66 drive modern cars, not classic, old vehicles like we did. We had two 1966 Ford Route66s and one 1970 Chevrolet C10. Technically, the Route66s are considered trucks (they are registered as such) but most people don’t consider them trucks, they think of them as El Caminos, so, technically, we took this trip with three old trucks. Along the route people would refer to them as “hot rods” or “classic cars” and we got stares, pointing fingers, thumbs up, big smiles and endearing looks from all walks of life. Sometimes, when we were in a parking lot (doing repairs or walking to or from a restaurant, etc.), we would get to talk to a lot of nice people about the times they had with their old cars as youths, because these old vehicles reminded them of those times. That part was fun.
There are not very many people that could do this trip with old vehicles like we did. I would not recommend anyone do this trip with an older vehicle! We consider ourselves lucky in that I was a mechanic in a former life, BBW lives in a rural area and does a lot of vehicle repair work himself and GL is technically minded with experience restoring his own vehicle using YouTube videos, internet forums and such. All of us restored our own vehicles ourselves. I did “fudge a little” because I had someone else do paint and upholstery: I stripped my car and sent it to the paint shop, I removed the bench seat and door panels and took them to the upholstery shop. Everything else was done solely by me – suspension, transmission, drive train, electrical. A lot of the “classic car crowd” pay other people to do the actual work – rebuild an engine, repair a transmission, suspension work, wire in a new sound system or repair electrical demons – but for the most part, we all did our own work.
I have found that new parts for these older vehicles do not last very long, certainly not as long as they used to when they were manufactured by automobile manufacturers. There were several parts that I had to replace again even before the trip started, within 2,500 miles and 18 months of initial installation. All were purchased from reputable parts sources (CJ Pony Parts, NAPA Auto Parts, Summit Racing, RPS, etc.). I purchased multiple fuel pumps from different vendors before buying a high volume Edelbrock fuel pump. I also replaced a turn signal flasher, a headlight switch, a carburetor float (from a new Edelbrock carburetor with less than 200 miles on it after installation), a brake master cylinder, a reverse light switch and a lower control arm. I also had the fuel sending unit seal on the gas tank start leaking in Illinois but then stopped leaking in Oklahoma, so I think that might have been related to the cold temperatures in Illinois. My point is that even though these vehicles were restored with new parts, the new parts of today for these vehicles do not hold up very well to long term use.
The Major Issues
Each vehicle turned out to have its own set of demons that we had to deal with the entire trip, and each had at least one major issue during the trip. We never had to tow one of them or call for assistance in any way – we dealt with all the issues ourselves by buying tools, parts and supplies during the trip and fixing them in parking lots, on the side of the road, parking garages, etc.