Crazy Road Trip
Story time: Once upon a time, there were three Amigos, with a very lewd sense of humor. They had planned on going to the Hot August Nights (the largest AMERICAN car show [pre-1974] in the world) in a 1971 Chevy C-20. The truck wasn’t ready, but did that stop the three amigos? No… In searching for alternate vehicles, John stumbled upon a 1972 ‘Cuda, the king of Mopar. It was hiding up in a awesome shop in Washington state near the Canadian Border. John called his amigos and said “Hey, I’ve got a horrible idea: Lets fly to Washington, grab a ‘Cuda and try driving across this great nation (north to south); stopping in Reno for Hot August Nights.” Being the recklessly awesome cowboys they were, they agreed.
The ‘Cuda needed some love, John called Kelly at Pacific Classics and relayed his intent to drive it 2k miles without testing anything. Kelly offered to pay half the shipping to have it shipped to Arizona, but John refused because he wanted a story of this magnificent beast boasting down the highway like “Kowalski” from Vanishing Point. Kelly worked with a few local shops to make sure the vehicle was tuned up and the headers (leaking) were replaced. Time was ticking, hearts were racing as they had the weekend and two business days to receive the parts, and finish the work before we arrived. The first set of headers came in, Small Block Chevy (Summit Racing really screwed up), re-order and the right ones came in two days later. The exhaust was fixed, car was tuned, new bumper installed, motor mounts replaced with new carburetor installed just before we landed. We shipped some ‘oh shit’ parts up to Washington, packed a ruck-sack full of tools (51 lbs of tools to be exact) and headed for the airport knowing we would have to conduct some ‘on the move’ mechanics (45 year old vehicle with some original parts). Kelly stuck around several hours after closing time to see us through. Seeing the ‘Cuda for the first time, we all had to change our undies. Smoke barbarically billowing out from the wheels, burning out in the parking-lot, we were on our way. 2 hours South, in Seattle, the shocks began to permit the tires rubbing on the wheel well. Joe noticed they are air shocks, and we had a compressor (yes, we brought a compressor on the plane). We aired them up and tried again. 30 minutes later, aired up again, 30 min later, aired up again until the Good Idea Fairy “bippidy boppidy booped” Joe with the idea of filling the shocks with fix-a-flat. BOOM! Problem #1 fixed. We decided to try to get some sleep at a near by Motel 6, but they were full and told us we could wait til midnight and maybe a room would be vacant. It wasn’t. We headed South once again, the lights on the dash wouldn’t turn on, so we used a flash-light every 3 minutes to check gauges. The temperature gauge moved, but was not accurate. Applying Kentucky Wind-age to a temperature gauge, we determined it would be too hot if it got to mid-gauge. The headlights began to dim just south of Olympia… darker and darker… until John asked Joe if he could even tell if the lights were on any more. John drove 60 miles using moonlight and the tail-lights of a big-rig for guidance until Joe had to urinate (again) and we pulled over. The engine died on the off ramp. We pushed the car up a hill to avoid unnecessary collision. The battery was from 2013, and had a dead cell. We called a cab at 2am and hitched a ride to Walmart to get a new battery. Swapped that out and back on the road distributing democracy to those viewing, while rotating who was driving so we could nap. We burned through Washington, and most of Oregon without issue. The lights began to flicker, and we determined there was a short happening somewhere. Stopping in Eugene Oregon, we began our search for the mischievous open wire rubbing on ground. There were 5 potential candidates of positive wires, open and bare, touching grounded metal. Success. Back on the beautiful country-roads with no traffic, cows merrily frolicking in the Oregon and Northern California sun, agricultural fields as far as the eyes can see… this ‘Cuda was meant for those long windy roads. Having not showered in a while, we stopped to bathe in a cooooolllldddd creek in Kalamath Falls. No police tried to pull us over, because “it takes a Mopar to catch a Mopar” and what kind of American Public Servant would hinder the ‘Cuda from spreading freedom to passer-bys? 80 miles north of Susanville, CA; she began to sputter when given heavy foot. The sputter grew… We began brainstorming what could cause this, as we’d already replaced the carburetor before departing WA. The fuel pump, maybe, the gas line being on the head, the vacuum line… Joe looked up the nearest auto parts store and we had 80 miles to limp. There were several stores in Susanville, but only ONE had a fuel pump for a ‘Cuda 340. We limped up hills, sputtering and praying, and rolled into Autozone. The fuel pump was shot, the Vacuum advance line had a BB in it clogging ANY flow, the spark plugs were not spaced correctly (one was damn near touching) and charred, the belts and fuel lines were cracking. We replaced it all deep into dark in that parking lot. Did a burn out leaving Autozone and headed for Reno. The Grand Sierra Resort was our first show, the ‘Cuda running great, galloped gleefully to its purely American kin. She was home. The show was glorious, the cars were immaculate, eagles soared above, and there was the crisp smell of freedom in the air. We lost Bob for hours and after searching, came to determine that we need to ‘fish’ for Bob… What attracts a ‘Bob Steele’ more than a shiny red Mopar? We determined we should drive around, using the ‘Cuda as a Bob lure and he would come running. We also had not looked under the cars, and it was likely that Bob was under one, looking at its drive-train… one last glance before fishing, we spotted the evasive creature in its natural habitat of muscle cars! We caught a few more shows and massive parking lots filled with thousands of reasons why America is so great, in Reno, Sparks and Victorian Avenue, met up with John’s Reno family and showed our cars. Cruised the strip, waving at the children, giving them high fives as we cruised the night. We picked up Miss Nevada at an In and Out burger and she gave her princess wave to the smiling masses. This is what the ‘Cuda was meant for… this is how life should be. Some crazy friends, pulling some reckless moves and a Nevada beauty smiling in the front seat ( Katherine Bunker ). The night retired at my Aunts glorious residence (with garage full of cars, her convertible Cutlass, my uncles Cobra Jet Ranchero) and the next day (after repairing the latch on the trunk which wouldn’t close) we went to the Auctions. Hundreds of American show-cars auctioning off every day: a 1971 ‘Cuda went for $70,000. Bob was like a kid in a candy store, “Oh look at this 1957… OOOH that’s a 1948!!! Let me tell you about 1948…” It was time to begin the 14 hour drive through the hot desert. Anticipating heating issues, we picked up a water pump, thermostat and housing; as well as a few extra gallons of anti-freeze. We drove through the night, when Bob Steele decided to take her to 100+ mph, she began to overheat and give the alarming yet soothing fragrance of dumping anti-freeze. In that moment he knew… he fucked up. hahahaha! Swapped the thermostat… overheated… swapped the water pump… overheated… out of options as we did not have another radiator handy, we called AAA (at 2am) to tow us to Tonopah, NV which had a Napa Auto-Parts. We slept a bit in a motel that was up-hill from Napa (so we could coast down) and in the morning found out Napa is not open on Sundays… There was a Uhaul rental place (a guys trailer home with a few Uhaul trucks out front), grabbed a Uhaul and trailer and finished the drive. 46 years after Vanishing Point came out (1971), who would have thought a Mopar would still be burning through the desert. The ‘Cuda is in the garage, awaiting a new and improved radiator, and will be gloriously released upon Sierra Vista, AZ for years to come; to inspire those, who choose to drive foreign cars, to cast aside their transgressions against America and conform to its supreme glory… to bring justice to the streets, and liberty to the soul.
“Speed means freedom of the soul,” Super Soul – Vanishing Point.