By on June 25, 2014

Impaladventure 002

Drive an ’81 Impala across half of the country? What a great idea! Do most of the driving in a single stint, after spending the day flying out to Maine? Not so great!

83,022 miles: This morning, I took a pair of Southwest 737s from Columbus, Ohio to Portland, Maine, to meet “Mark In Maine”. Well, I left in the morning, anyway. After the transfer in Baltimore, it ended up being nearly seven o’ clock in the evening when I actually get to Mark’s house. He’s pulling his third-generation droptop Camaro RS behind a U-Haul; his wife is in his high-mileage, manual-shift Outback wagon. We’re heading for Greenville, Indiana, about 1,168 miles away.

First impressions of the Impala: it’s honest and sound, but rougher than the pictures showed. This is truly a base-equipment car: the only options I see are a cloth bench seat that doesn’t adjust far enough back to fit me and a right-side rearview mirror that isn’t working. There’s no rearview mirror on the windshield, but that isn’t because it didn’t originally come with one. This is a replacement piece of glass. Luckily, there’s a replacement mirror left on the seat. Unluckily, it’s there because it was glued together incorrectly. Time for duct tape. Now I can see behind me. Something’s weird: the view is like, REALLY clear behind me.

Oh. No defroster. Funny. You don’t realize that the lines are there until they aren’t. The Impala starts with a single twist of the key and settles into an odd truncated-musclecar rumble. The transmission shift indicator is broken, but every Gen-Xer knows the PRND23 column shift on these cars by heart, right? Off we go.

Impaladventure 012

83,042 miles: Alternator light’s on already. We come to a halt, make a few calls ahead to make sure there’s another alternator available at a place that will stay open for a bit, then proceed. But not before we realize that the big coupe is seriously leaking gasoline. Like, a five-foot puddle in a minute. This is the first time Mark’s filled the tank since buying the car. Looks like we can’t do that.

“I guess we have to turn back,” Mark offers.

“Nonsense. Tell my son,” I say, swinging the wide door open with what I imagine to be a flourish, “I loved him.”

83,055 miles: The O’Reilly guys think the battery is bad. We swap it. No change in the light. But it’s charging fine. A bad ground? We buy an extra alternator just in case. The circle of stinking fuel is almost as big as the car by the time we leave. The engine smells hot. This is remarkably like a Lemons race. There might be weather ahead, and I want to beat it, so I push the 229 V-6 until the speedometer is pegged and drop Mark’s U-Haul.

83,284 miles: How fundamentally different this is from a modern automobile. It’s hideously sensitive to crosswinds, it requires a sort of tacking motion with the steering to keep it going straight, and despite its size there’s less available space for the driver than my Accord offers. I have a little “Jambox” on the dashboard, but it can’t keep up with the roar from the lowered windows. If I roll the windows up, the fuel fumes are intense. Still, by the time I do the first fillup, it’s not leaking any more. I fill it to the 3/4 mark, at which point it doesn’t seem to leak.

83,449 miles: I’m genuinely tired by now. It’s way past midnight and I’m still in New York. Finally able to roll up the windows, I put an old 10,000 Maniacs record on the Jambox and think back to my 1980 Marquis. It wasn’t a direct competitor to this Impala, not with its full complement of equipment, its 302 V-8, and its luxurious velour interior. Still, dynamically… Hate to admit it, B-body fans, but you’re right. This is a better car than the early Panther. By some distance. Even on three different kinds of tires, even with 83k miles and thirty-three years on it. It’s more connected to the road, the packaging is marginally better. Boo hiss.

20140624_041718

83,630 miles: I think we’re doing nearly 23mpg on the trot here, but I’m driving as conservatively as I can. Time to short-fuel yet again. Briefly, I imagine that I’m an F1 driver. Ross Brawn is on the radio: “Now, Jack, we’re going to short-fuel you to get you ahead of Alonso in the rotation. But we need the maximum. Ten qualifying laps.”

“Ross,” I reply, “for sure.”

20140624_083341

83,801 miles: The speedometer cable whines and wobbles the needle and sometimes, according to my imperfect GPS app, 85mph indicated is really 68mph and sometimes it’s 90. I become paranoid about police, slow way down, and wind up getting buzzed by a few trucks, which blows the Impala all over the place.

I’m finally in Pennsylvania but I’m beat. The sun’s up but I’d prefer to be asleep. Two cans of NOS energy drink aren’t keeping my eyes open or on the road. I make an executive decision: this trip will end in Powell, Ohio today. That will mean I’ll only be awake thirty hours in a row. I call Mark to tell him the decision and find out that due to issues with the U-Haul he’s seven hours behind me.

20140624_071943

83,920 miles: Fuel economy’s dropped through the floor and the Impala’s become genuinely unstable in crosswinds. Something’s wrong. But I’m almost home. It’s noon and I’ve arranged for a lunch date at a sandwich shop down the street. When I walk into the place, I’m frankly filthy from sixteen hours driving a car with a dirty interior and having my hands under the hood. The khaki-clad sausage-festers having their business lunch are visibly uncomfortably standing next to me.

What a surprise for them, then, to have a six-foot redheaded Dutch girl come in and give me a big hug all over my dirty self.

“You look, um,” Kiki says.

“What you’re supposed to say,” I cut her off, “is…”

“Hmm,” is all she can muster. “Your tire’s flat.” And it pretty much is. The left rear is way down. Explains the low economy and the handling problem. There’s something very entertaining about having lunch with a very corporate-looking girl in a very corporate-looking place full of corporate-looking people while wearing the Hidden Part Of Icebergs shirt and stinking of hot oil. Everybody looks at us. Maybe they think she’s my GRE tutor.

On the way out, as I’m driving the flat-tired Impala past a group of incredulous khaki-clads, I yell back at Kiki, “I’M SORRY I DON’T HAVE A JOB!” Then I go in search of a place to put air in the tire. The only gas station with an air hose has three cars waiting. The driver of the second car in line gives me an obviously contemptuous glance as I cruise by. He’s sixty-five years old and is seated behind the wheel of a Chevy Venture. Not even an Uplander. This is what my life’s come to: being dissed by old people in the worst minivan of all time. The hell with this. I’ll drive it home flat.

83,927 miles: In the Ohio summer heat, the burble of the Chevy 229 is decidedly uneven and once or twice it seems that we might stall. Up the long hill of Powell Road, some Boomer in a CR-V honks impatiently because I’m doing 15mph. A funny thing: when I was a kid, old people drove Impala coupes. Now old people drive CR-Vs and Ventures and all this high-seat low-power no-style utter garbage. As I stick my middle finger out of the rolled-down left window, I think this: old people were cooler back then.

Finally, I’m home. Time to sleep for one million years. Tomorow, I’ll take her the rest of the way. But first, a session with the air hose. Likely the first of many.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

151 Comments on “Impaladventure Part 1: 905 Miles Overnight, Just Three Mechanical Issues...”


  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    When I moved back to Maine from Jackson, WY I stopped in Columbus, OH for the night on my second day. From my hotel to my parents house in Hampden, ME was exactly 1000 miles. It was a long day of driving. I was in my 99 Grand Prix GTP, at the time it was 6 years old, so I wasn’t really roughing it.

    I commend such a long drive in an old car like that, don’t know if I could do it.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I imagine all these annoying constant noises, and really loose steering, and smells of old Chevrolet. Old Chevrolets always smell the same.

      Unless they’re filthy, which this one is – so it’s probably worse. My grandfather had a sedan Caprice of this generation (around 1994), and it had some massive timing issue. It was always interesting how you could turn it off, remove the key, and it would still be running for 30 seconds. Never got it fixed and he sold it shortly after that – in exchange for a 92 New Yorker.

    • 0 avatar
      Windy

      When I was putting in the hours to get my first pilot job with a major airline I was moving home a lot. Most the time it was in a u-haul towing my 99 EMS SAAB. There were very few of these moves in the 70s when there weren’t problems with the rental box van. It’s nice to read that things remain the same on that front.

      I recall one trip where I drove the cursed rig non stop from golden Colorado to cape cod MA nonstop in just over 28 hours. By the time I reached the Hudson River a bit after midnight I was chatting with a little man sitting on the dashboard telling me that I was in fact asleep and about to crash… (As I was a 20 something idiot on my way to fly fish spotting missions in a single engine light aircraft 200 miles off shore… I was was convinced of my own immortality) I shouted back at the gnome that I was not asleep just in need of another no-doze pill full of caffeine . We continued to chat till we got to the Mass turnpike when with a final ” you will never make it!) he vanished…

      As the the only time in my life when I ever had any hallucinations, the experience remains a memorable one. It was also the last time I ever pushed beyond the point when I needed rest… It is not just the danger of falling asleep but the fact that your decision making ability becomes seriously impaired when your body and mind need rest.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim_Turbo

        I once fell asleep while driving home from college after being out all night, it was about a 2.5 hour drive. It happened right before the only rest stop on the entire trip, and when I woke up I was in the lane for the rest stop. I took a nice long nap in the rest area that day and have never driven on no sleep again.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Road trips in sketchy old cars is fun, if you leave yourself enough time and expect the unexpected. My buddies and I drive our 50+ year old cars all over the place on long road trips. Something always happens, but planning ahead and being mechanically inclined helps a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think I am the kind of person where that situation would always stress me out, and cause me to have a bad time. Unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar
      rmmartel

      I somewhat fondly remember those days – the thrill of wondering *if* you would get to your destination – what mechanical malady might crop up to hinder your progress…the excitement of the unexpected.

      My best trip-break-down were always caused by external influences. Snow storm in the Wyoming mountains clogging the air intake on my Chevette (yup – cross country solo in a Chevette in January good times) or a junk truck throwing crap on the road that punctured the gas tank on my Chevelle in rural Georgia.

      Of course now hauling my bride and kid somewhere by car I’d just as soon have it be an unexciting journey.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Of course now hauling my bride and kid somewhere by car I’d just as soon have it be an unexciting journey.”

        True that. Women and young kids seem to have significantly less tolerance for breakdowns and roadside repairs. So I make sure to install electronic ignition in all the cars old enough to have points.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Maybe someday I’ll take the T-Bird from where I am in PA (kinda right in the middle on the east side, south of the Lehigh Valley but north of Montgomery County) all the way down old I-95 to visit my dad in Lake Worth, FL.

      Of course, with my luck, I’d nuke the engine in South Carolina or something.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You do have bad luck, I don’t think you would have a good time!

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I managed to send one car to the scrapper, get the second one in a nasty accident, and almost seize up my third car!

          That and yesterday was a cascade of terrible luck and stupidity, because I locked my keys in the car AND almost drained the battery by leaving the interior lights on all night.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            LOL. Nice. One of the advantages of keyless start!

            I nearly did this a couple times on some other cars I had. Audis will actually unlock the door automatically if you lock it via the interior button with the key in the ignition.

            Seems like another one I had would let you lock the other doors, but not the drivers door from the interior button, if you had the door open. It unlocked when you closed the door.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Well this is the wonder of 1995 technology.

            Kinda wish I had the keypad security system that was an option back then, that seems like an effective backup for if you leave your keys in the car.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I was thinking you had a LeSabre, or a Regal. I didn’t think they had that optional!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Well I did say T-Bird…

            And I saw one at the U-Pull-It with the SecuriCode keypad on the door, so clearly it was an option that the original owner just didn’t spring for, like how the passenger side fender I pulled has a power antenna while my car has a manual antenna. (Snuck that by the junkyard staff, saved me $15).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ha sorry. I was actually recalling back to whatever was in the Piston Slap article which was about you.

  • avatar
    vtnoah

    Guessing you went through NH then VT to get to NY. That’s a rough trip on it’s own let alone in an old beater. You would assume you can just drive straight across the two but nope! You gotta drive south, then North, through the White Mountains, then the Greens, on a number of dirt roads no less. It’s a bitch. Good luck on the rest of your trip man.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      lolwat! There’s no paved highway?

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        There are no east-west highways in New England aside from 90 (Mass Pike) and that would require one to drive all the way south to Boston.

        To get out of Maine it’s either south on 95 Maine Turnpike) or cross many state highways through NH and then VT. While there are a great many paved state roads, there are an equal number of dirt roads, especially in the northern portions of NH and VT.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          I’ve made the trip before – by back roads across NH and VT, and via Northern MA to the Masspike. The I-95 to I-495 to I 290 to I-90 is the fastest. You don’t have to go all the way to Boston to pick up 90 – the 495 – 290 (Worcester) to Auburn is not bad – if you can avoid rush hour.

          However, if I was in a convertible or decent sports car, the NH Vermont route would be the way to go. Just plan on extra time. Traffic lights, small towns, slow moving motoorhomes in the mountains etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Tim_Turbo

            Yes that is the way I have always gone, driven from ME across the country several times.

            But yeah if it was a nice day and I had a fun car, and no set schedule the other way is a nice drive. I have friends both in Burlington, VT and in the White Mtn area in NH so I have spent plenty of time behind tourists in motorhomes on that route.

          • 0 avatar

            According to google maps it’s only about 3 minutes faster than taking 95 all the way to the Mass Pike (90, just west of Boston).

            I live in Lexington (about 8 miles from the junction of 90 and 95) and I frequently visit a friend in Albany, NY. It’s 2 1/2 hours (averaging probably a bit over 70) taking 90 almost all the way and not stopping, and probably 3 1/2 hrs via backroads of NH, Vermont, NY. But much prettier and more fun driving the latter.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> According to google maps it’s only about 3 minutes faster than taking 95 all the way to the Mass Pike (90, just west of Boston).

            The trick is 495 via Worcester. Much faster than 95/128.

            My real trouble with the NH Vermont route is that I know almost every ice cream stand & roadside seafood shack along the route. Can’t resist one of those.

            No problem driving past the rest stops along the MassPike.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Ditto – done this trip many times – that’s the way to go.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Nah, you take I-95 south to I-495 and follow the loop to I-290. Take I-290 through Worcester and hit the Mass Turnpike connector in Auburn, Mass.

          No need to drive all the way to Boston, you’d pick up I-495 up by Lawerence, almost on the NH border.

          • 0 avatar

            @MCS, APAGttH

            This is precisely the route that google maps says is all of 4 miles and 3 minutes shorter than taking 95 directly to the Mass Pike.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> @David C. Holzman According to google maps it’s only about 3 minutes faster..

            I’m in Andover – sort-of between 95 and 495. For me, if it’s before 5am or after 7pm, 95 to the Masspike works, but about 2:30pm 95 usually stops dead between Lexington and the Masspike. Then there’s the clover-leaf of death at 95 & 93 and it’s backup. Hit it at the wrong time and the 3 minutes rapidly turns into an hour or more.

            Besides, Kimball’s Ice Cream in Westford beats any of the rest stops in 95! Another reason – one of my kids is competing in iGEM14 (a genetic engineering competition) and his lab is off of 290 in Worcester. Gotta check in!

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> Guessing you went through NH then VT to get to NY.
      Much quicker via Massachusetts, as long as you avoid the Lee speed trap.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> You gotta drive south, then North, through the White Mountains, then the Greens, on a number of dirt roads no less

      If you were to cross NH and VT to get to NY, it wouldn’t involve dirt roads at all. Maine 11 to 202, then Rt. 9. Basically Rochester NH, to Concord NH, then Brattleboro Vt. No White Mountains, no dirt roads.

      • 0 avatar
        vtnoah

        I’m a Northern Vermonter so I always take 15 all the way into NH or something like that. Can’t quite remember as the last time I did the trip was about 10 years ago. I do remember having to take some god awful dirt road though. Going through Southern VT to get to NY does make sense though.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          >> I do remember having to take some god awful dirt road though.

          Between Manchester Vt and I think Walpole NH there’s a dirt road. Well worth it for the stop at Grafton Village Cheese.

          The VT-NH is route is much slower than you’d think. Two lane roads with lots of slowing down and stopping vs. all interstate driving where the vast majority of the drivers are exceeding the speed limit by over 10 mph. Also, with the interstate route you skirt around Albany. With the backroads, you have to go through it.

          I’ve driven all of those roads and know them well. There’s a big difference between the google map times and reality. Besides, that old car would have spent a lot of time in second gear.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I just don’t see what y’all see in these old barges. They weren’t all that fly when they were new, and now most of them are slap worn out.

    A late model midsize sedan does what these cars were supposed to do so much better.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Especially with this one, which isn’t a luxo-paneling burnished worn out. More of a base-carpet non-option and dirty worn out.

    • 0 avatar
      JCK

      Totally agree. I grew up with a ’80 Olds Delta 88 Royale and an ’85 Buick Electra wagon. The Olds completely fell apart at the 10-year mark (stuffing in visors disintegrating, vinyl roof looking awful). Recirculating ball steering is awful. The undersize 110 hp V8 in the Olds was also awful.

      They’re interesting now that they’re old and rare, but they were bad cars at the time. The current boring-as-hell Nissan Altima is a far superior car in every way (except being able to belt in six passengers)

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        It’s a chore fitting 5 full size adults in today’s smaller more cramped mid size sedans whereas these real full size cars could easily seat 6 with the bench seat options and have loads of space left over in the trunk. And lets remember that ordering these cars back in the day was critical for there owner’s happiness or stress as it were.
        Ordering a 110 HP Chevy/Buick V6 was not wise in a 3500 LB full size and these cars were far better served with a 305 or 350 V8 and a suspension upgrade (F41) was critical because at the time a smooth boulevard ride was the order of the day. So yes I would say that today’s more cramped cookie cutter cars aren’t better in every way!

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “fitting 5 full size adults in”

          BTSR is fond of mentioning that but seeing it in real life always makes me wonder… what’s wrong with them other four guys that they ain’t got their own cars?

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I lived through the 60′s and 70′s, and remember those cars quite well. They weren’t comfortable for three adults in either front or back. They weren’t all that wonderful for three children in the back. If you were small enough, you’d occasionally get stuck in the middle of the front seat, but I never saw an adult sit there.

          That was the era of longer-lower-wider, so even though the overall dimensions were huge, the amount of stuff that fit in was less than you’d think. There’s a reason that families owned a station wagon. I remember occasionally taking my father’s Cadillac on a trip, and it required a bit of creative packing of the trunk.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Recirculating ball steering is awful”

        No, no.

        *Cheap* recirculating ball steering is (can be) awful.

        AFAIK, my old w115 Merc has recirculating ball steering, and it had wonderful steering even at nearly 40 years old, when I sold it off.

        It was tight, responsive, and gave great feedback.

    • 0 avatar
      jrhmobile

      Actually, I ran a ’77 Caprice aero-glass hardtop for a couple of years. Sorry, Jack. The glass-backs just look better. And a big coupe like this today is more about style than contemporary competence.

      They have their appeal. For all their size, they handled really well — big sway bars, multi-rate coil springs and well-tuned suspension packages. With a 350 or 305 V8, they moved with authority and were smooth, powerful highway flyers.

      They weren’t anywhere near as floaty as their Nimitz-class predecessors, the fuselage-shaped 73-76 models, and with quality shocks they weren’t floaty at all.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Yes, we had zero problems back in the early 1980s driving a ’78 350 Caprice with F41 suspension from Halifax NS to Indianapolis in three days. Decent trek. Don’t remember that car having any problems with crosswinds either and we met some decent thunderstorms plus ran over a dead deer somewhere in Ohio at night. Smelled a bit for a day or two.

        Of course, the car wasn’t worn out. Ran like a train.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      “A late model midsize sedan does what these cars were supposed to do so much better.”

      Surely that is missing the point. I don’t think Mark in Maine is planning to use this car as a daily driver. It’s a 31 year old car, a time capsule from a different age. I know Jack says the photos flatter it, but I still think it looks great. Far more purposeful and authentic than the current generation of angry-faced, slit windowed, flame surfaced cars.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I was more thinking of guys like Jack and Sajeev who do (or did) drive these cars on a regular basis. I can see a car like this as a nostalgiamobile for those who are so inclined, but if it were for me I’d want it to be in at least “nice driver” condition. This one sounds pretty rough.

    • 0 avatar
      HannibalSmith

      Great article. My ’81 Malibu has almost 190 000 miles on its 229 V6, so that Impala has a lot of life left in it.

  • avatar
    raph

    Nice, don’t know if I’d take that trip in a clapped out Impala but I’m a sucker for a marathon drive. I’ve done VA to Wichita,VA to Milwaukee WS, and VA to Columbus OH.

    The last one wasn’t to bad except I had spent the day at work, got the call from my mom that the old man was in really bad shape so I had to ride out to Columbus, pick my brother up and turn right back around and drive back.

    One of these days I’m gonna make the trip from VA to New Mexico to see a brother out there. Google Erf says 1900 miles and 27 hours so I’ll give it 30 and see if I can beat that by a fair bit.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “27 hours so I’ll give it 30″

      I’d crash. Or at least fall asleep and drive off the road into some western desert landscape.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Well rested I can do pretty good, might need to nap for a bit 16 or 17 hours out. On the VA to Wichita trip I made it there in 17 hours but it took 21 hours on the way back due to a few more planned stops and one unplanned stop where I enriched a local economy by buying a section of highway.

        Interesting fact about Tennessee. The fines are cheap but the damn court costs are high as hell or were back in the 90′s.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Back in 1999, I was driving my 1983 Land Cruiser FJ60 from Portland, OR to Boston. I was off the beaten path, on Rte 212 in southeastern Montana, when, due to exceptionally poor planning, I found the LC (not Toyota’s most efficient effort) running on fumes. If you’ve never been on Rte 212 in SE Montana, the last “town” is Alzada, comprised of exactly two buildings, zero gas stations and even fewer people. The moon is more urban than this corner of the world.

    I pulled into one of the buildings, looked like a small warehouse, gave out a loud “hello” and an old gentleman came around and seeing my distress offered me two gallons of gas to get me to the next town. Wouldn’t take my money. His wife had to write out a receipt, because her husband couldn’t “read nor write”. I thanked them profusely, they absolutely saved my bacon.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Why did they give you a receipt if you hadn’t paid for it?

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        I asked for one because I was keeping track of my gas consumption.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          LOL oh the irony!

          Keeping track of your fuel consumption, but ya don’t got any to consume. Bum a couple gallons, could I have some paperwork for it as well?

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            Well, sure. I intended to keep track of it, just didn’t do a great job I guess, I was a young punk back then. I was keeping all receipts and a mileage log for the trip, plus a journal, photos, etc. I actually still have that receipt believe it or not.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You should frame it! Always a good memory for you.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Organized enough to meticulously track fuel consumption and save all receipts, but forgot to actually put fuel in the tank. Have you considered government work?

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        Hey everyone, a comedian!

        As stated previously, I was a young punk, and keenly unaware of the utter lack of gas stations in SE Montana. I did manage to make it all the way to Boston from that point without running out of gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      “Wake me up when we get to Gillette,” I told my then-wife. We were road tripping, in our 20s, and crossing Wyoming. I leaned the seat back, drifted off to sleep in the trusty old rattling Subaru wagon.

      I awoke groggily, it was dark. Dark!?

      “Where are we?

      “We just passed a little town, I think it was called Wright.”

      “Why didn’t you wake me up in Gillette?”

      “We still had half a tank of gas, so I didn’t think we needed to stop.”

      Bless her little East River (east of the Missouri), Minnesota farm-country heart. In her mind, she thought Wyoming would be like Minnesota; there’d be a farm town every 10 or 15 minutes, complete with a gas station and maybe a Hardee’s next door. But I knew better having grown up in the west. We were in the dark, in the middle of Wyoming, and the next town was Douglas, well over two hours away. I looked at the gas gauge. Under a quarter tank.

      There was no term called hyper-miling in those days, but that’s what we tried.

      It didn’t work.

      Somewhere north of Douglas, we were done.

      “Make for that side road, pull up to the oil drilling equipment parked there, and we’ll spend the night. Hopefully, in the morning, we’ll be able to get a lift or maybe one of the oil workers will have some gas we can buy.”

      We sputtered to a stop, just yards from a portable, locked gas pump. There was no way I was going to be able to get that lock off, and believe me, I studied it plenty. My wife was starting to freak.

      “We’re sleeping here? Out here!?” A coyote howled. Another answered, closer.

      “You got a better idea?”

      Just as I settled her down, and we’d gotten as comfortable as we could in the Subie, headlights swung into the makeshift work yard. Sheriff’s deputy in his Crown Vic. I jumped out of the car to greet him.

      “You guys okay? he asked. I explained that my young bride didn’t appreciate yet the distances of the American West, and she’d blown through our fuel stop, thinking there’d be gas stations every 20 miles.

      He laughed. Pulled out a key ring, unlocked the pump, handed me the hose.

      “Fill up, pay me, and I’ll get the money to the foreman.”

      I topped off, gave him a twenty, and we were back on our way. Have no idea if my money made it to its new, rightful owner. All I know is she ain’t my wife no more. And she ended up taking my Subaru to add insult to injury.

      Should’a left her out there.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        As a proud citizen in Wyoming, I can safely pose this question:

        What makes you think we want her? Wyoming is full! Please proceed to another state.

        • 0 avatar
          Domestic Hearse

          “Wyoming is full.”

          You got a chuckle out of me. And I totally get the sentiment. But don’t worry, trip was 25 years ago, and last I heard, she’s 12 states removed from Wyoming. Her sister married into a Wyoming family and adapted pretty well.

          As for being full, half your roughnecks are now in North Dakota, living in their trucks and raising hell thanks to ND’s current oil boom. You got plenty of room now! I’d plant myself in the great town of Sheridan given half a chance. Bighorn National Forest in my backyard. Perfect.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            We’d be fine with you ;-)

            Sheridan is a nice town. I’m on the other side of the mountain, by Yellowstone. Most of the new residents are from either back east or from California.

            Those are the types that we don’t want- the people that want to change the state.

            Wyoming- wither love it, or leave us be!

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            Bighorn/Sheridan> Back in 81′, a chance meeting in a Portland area tavern landed me in a isolated Winter camp near Mt. Woolsey, nearly ten miles from the nearest un-plowed road. The only access was by snowmobile, which was only to be used in an emergency. Once you arrived at camp, you stayed for the duration of Winter camp(6-weeks), some stayed on after for the whole winter.

            After six weeks of being entertained by indigenous characters(mostly Shoshone with a few Arapaho’s), and enjoying the pristine winter nature of the snow covered mountains, the bright lights and female forms inhabiting Sheridan were a sorely welcome sight.

            I could have spent that time in the Caribe on a sailboat, but I wouldn’t trade that experience in the magnificence of winter in the Big Horn mountains with a bunch of interesting characters for another winter anchored in a another emerald green lagoon playing with Dolphins and looking for treasure. Plenty of that before and after my days in the mountains.

            When we arrived at camp we drove up a wood ramp into a small shelter about 8-ft. above the snow, when we left the snow was nearly level with the buildings floor.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        “Should’a left her out there.” Hey, they are fun while they are fun, but should come with a return deposit, when they are no longer fun.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    A trip like this is a hell of a lot more palatable when you’re trying desperately to get away from something or someone.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Giving a one-finger salute can get you killed these days.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It’s interesting the times people use it. I’ve been flipped off as someone pulled out in front of me, as I was going straight down a road.

      I just give my “You know what you did!” incredulous face. But I have tints so I dunno how much they see.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Ah, the look.

        I’ve used it many times. My older truck doesn’t have a working horn, and this works just as well most of the times. With a tint, though, the effect is probably less.

  • avatar
    st1100boy

    I love stories like this. Jack Baruth’s writing usually has me laughing out loud in the office, and this article was no exception.

    Hey, Jack: How would you like to do a reader’s rides on my ’82 Honda Gold Wing? Just inherited it recently and put $1500 in repairs/upgrades into it. Now it runs and rides like a good ’83 model. Come on down to southern Illinois and check it out.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I, for one, would love to read such a review.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You’ll have email tomorrow! Love the boxer Hondas!

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        Before you leave, make sure that the upgrades included hardwiring the connector between the alternator and the voltage regulator. 1980s Hondas are notorious for melting the connector and frying the stator. Otherwise, it’s a whole lot easier to do a 1K mile overnighter on a good touring bike than in any car I can think of.

      • 0 avatar
        st1100boy

        I just put 200 miles on the Wing this afternoon, including on some semi-challenging county roads in Missouri. Hauled the mail at times too. The way the bike moved around reminded me of the big Pontiac in “The Seven-Ups”. I could probably go faster on my Tuono while eating a ham sandwich, but it was still fun. I’m just not sure if my late father would love or hate me riding his old bike that way…

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          He’d prolly love it as long as you’re not thrashing it to death….

          Gold Wings are not my meat & Spud but they’re able to go -much- faster in the twisty bits than most imagine .

          One of my all time favorite rides was following The Bike Pimp and his wife up the Angeles Forest Highway on his early model ‘Wing , my on my BMW , he just _flew_ that thing .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            st1100boy

            I think part of the Wing’s secret to speed may be the fact they actually have decent ground clearance…if the suspension is stiff enough/running enough air pressure.

            I’m running Progressive fork springs and air shocks w/ quite a bit of pressure and yesterday the only time I scraped a peg is in my subdivision. Damping isn’t great, but it’s not undersprung.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Nicely written but a few points:
    1) How tired were you that you could not tell that you had a flat tire?
    2) My mother had one of the first of these a Chev Caprice sedan in a sort of bronze/burnt orange colour that was quite fashionable when she got it new in 1977. Unlike the one in the article, fully loaded, its equipment level pretty much matched that in my father’s Eldorado. At the time, these downsized GM vehicles were very highly regarded. And they proved to be quite durable.
    3) How dare you call a Venture “the worst mini-van of all time’. We had the downmarket Venture ‘Value’ Van and except for the extremely uncomfortable built in child seats, it served us for 4 years with zero mechanical problems (although the A/C compressor would go shortly after).

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Lasting 4 years is hardly the mark of a great vehicle. Whenever I see one of these minivans, the people driving it look like they’ve given up on life, as does the van. Wipers stuck in the up position are nearly mandatory.

      I’d take any generation of Caravan over one of these any day. Come to think it, a clean first-gen Caravan with the stacked headlights would be downright awesome.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The Caravans had utter garbage for transaxles right up until 2010 and they were a nightmare on breaks, electrical and just about everything inside which either failed or fell apart.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          My friend Ken’s 2004 Caravan with the original, untouched (other than maintenance) 4-speed auto and 190,000 miles under its belt would like to have a word with you…

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I think the point is that lasting 4 years with *zero defects* is better than the *worst mini-van of all time* can manage.

        Even good cars often have a defect or two over the first few years, be they minor or not…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’m not 100% sure if the Venture was the worst minivan of all time, as there are quite a few contenders for that prize. My choice for that trophy would be the Windstar.

      The reason we’re focusing on the Venture here is because they’re still on the road being all visibly sh1tty. The Windbags of the same era have already shredded their transmissions, broke their rear axles and dropped their front subframes and are currently being recycled.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I was at the U-Pull-It yesterday getting fenders for the T-Bird, and yes, there were a LOT of Windstar/Freestar vans.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I second the worst minivan as the Ford Windbags. The GM 4 some is still seen driving around in great numbers and with a proper replacement intake and good service I know a ton of folks still driving them with 200k on the clock, mainly from ones we sold them at our dealership!

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          The interesting thing to me there is that I still regularly see Aerostars driving around.

          Plainly Ford forgot what they did right when they switched to the Wind/Freestar.

          (My parents had an Aerostar in the 80s and early 90s. It was pretty good, honestly.)

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The Windstar is both the worst minivan ever and the worst thing Ford ever built.

      • 0 avatar
        vcficus

        100% and then some… Ford for some reason thought they could sell their corrosion test vans to the public and no one would complain.

        Even weirder, what about that two or three years of the Freestar which was basically the same van, same issues but almost all new stampings?

        Mulally got there JUST in time, Ford was making bad product decisions with great accuracy.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Jack, anytime you or Bark want to drive an ’84 Parisienne for comparison, just say the word. The front stabilizer is a beautiful thing.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      Front stabilizer? Tell me more. You mean a front sway bar? Did the Parisienne have something the Caprice/Impala didn’t? I thought they were essentially all the same under the skin save for engine choices.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        You ask a good question. I’m not sure why the steering and front suspension are so much better on this machine than on the many 77-79 boxes I’ve churned through, but it is a whole different animal. On the Chevies, the steering wheel was seemingly connected to a rudder.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    My grandfather had an 84 or 85 Caprice Coupe. It was burgundy with a burgundy interior. Few options save for power windows, locks and A/C, cruise. No power seats, mirrors or even a cassette player. It was equipped with the 305 and a four speed auto. Grandpap babied that car, it only accumulated 21k in 13 years and was garaged. My folks got it when he decided he needed to downsize so my grandma could drive (96 Century)

    Except for the “character” of the article car, (Paps still smelled new when we got it), this brought back many memories of driving it to Myrtle Beach one time. The wiggly suspension, taking a “crosswind correction angle” on the highway with the wheel. 305 was fine on the highway, but the Malaise era gearing and emissions controls would kill it in the hills.But it was a smooth,quiet ride when the roads were smooth and flat. Ours had wire wheel covers, which my brother changed for some ARE Stars and Eagle GA’s. Car was more fun then, much more planted, but that was it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “I think this: old people were cooler back then”

    I have the same thoughts, the current crop of old people are whiny babies in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The current crop of old people are baby boomers. They’ve been whiny babies all along.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You said it not me :)

        Amazes me how a good overall previous generation can produce one almost the opposite. Too bad we can’t whip up some 1890s folk and break the cycle of devolution.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Yepper, if you want knuckles in your teeth instead of normative anti-violence, no thought of education beyond the 8th grade (if that) unless daddy is rich, obligatory racism and misogyny, alcohol and spousal/child abuse in most working-class homes with no intervention because a man raises his family however he sees fit, and astonishment at the thought of unemployment compensation, preventative medicine, birth-control, sex-education or failure to attend some church or synagogue, then go with the WWI generation.

          But good luck getting them to wear deodorant.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          The “Greatest Generation” has a good PR team.

          Its interesting to note that 2/3rds of the people involved in WWII were drafted and had a higher desertion rate compared to Vietnam where 2/3rds of the people involved were volunteers. Drug abuse (if you include alcohol) was higher in WWII as well (as an example).

          I think like a lot of classic rock stations all we’ve been getting is the filtered rosy colored good stuff with the asshattery conveniently brushed into the skeleton closet.

      • 0 avatar

        @ heavy handle
        Thanks for the deep thoughts

        –a boomer

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You’re quite welcome, but the generational devolution continues unabated.

          • 0 avatar
            taxman100

            My old man grew up in an orphanage, never went past the 8th grade, fought in WWII and Korea while a Marine, came home and raised a family of 7 kids, working two jobs, while being married to my Mother for over 55 years.

            Old people today (early baby boomers) as a generation just never have had to struggle much in life, unless you count drug addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, and other self-imposed events.

            Their kids are even worse – at least baby boomers were taught some social graces outside of a cell phone, and some semblance of delayed gratification. Their kids have yet to learn even that.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            @taxman100

            Well, the early tier of boomers *did* have a little thing called Viet Nam that killed a lot of them and twisted the lives of vastly more.

            I think you’ll agree that Nam was a major cause of those “self-imposed events”. It was also the dynamite that blasted open the huge red/blue gap we have today.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @taxman100

            Being one of their kids, I’m not sure we are worse but we are certainly no better, and we have devolved from them, as the “Millenials” have/are devolving vs us.

            @Kenmore

            Vietnam directly affected 214,082 Americans and their families as KIAs, WIAs, MIAs, and POWs. A further 536,100 Americans were deployed to the region at the conflict’s height, many of whom were or are scarred for life. We must not forgot this, but we must also remember there were 203,392,031 US citizens in the 1970 Census. Between casualties and soldiers serving in the conflict, if even 2,000,000 citizens were directly impacted this is still just under 2% of the nation’s population at the time. Even if we include both parents of those soldiers and one sibling (from an emotional standpoint), that’s still under 8% directly impacted from the conflict. WWII was another things altogether from a national mobilization standpoint. Vietnam was the conflict which galvanized the boomers as to what they are today. Some gave all, but not all of their generation gave some.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties

            http://www.americanwarlibrary.com/vietnam/vwatl.htm

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1970_United_States_Census

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            28,

            If you think the damage done to boomers and this country by the Vietnam War was limited to those who served in the military, there is just no bridging the generation gap between us.

            It permanently turned our educated elite against American national interest, against the very idea that we *should* guard our national interest, and the culmination of its damage can be seen in today’s administration. Obama is LBJ’s direct political heir.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Kenmore

            I very much agree, I was simply breaking things down with the figures available. Vietnam changed the generation, probably for the worse for the reasons you cite.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            28, sorry to get preachy :-)

            Ah knows you ain’t no sukka foo’

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Kenmore

            I just remember what Mr T said, something to the effect of be somebody or be somebody’s foo! I’m somewhere between “somebody” and “foo’”.

            I too was affected by the conflict as a result of my father’s experiences it. But such things are not tangible to measure.
            You articulate such intangible things well and until this moment I had never drawn parallels between the President and LBJ (more Carter since we seem to be reliving his administration).

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          OR…Thanks for the cheap, ignorant, shallow thoughts. Those age derogatory comments are just moronic.

          My children would never be guilty of thinking or talking so.

          Makes me want to redress their parents for being complete failures at parenting.

          And, most of the so-called ‘Old People’/’Boomers’ I know, drive performance sedans or sports cars. There isn’t an Accord, Taurus, or Van in the bunch. So much for lame generalizations.

          The commentors denigrating ‘Old People’ are already whiners, didn’t even have to get old to assume that condition.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The new cars I see are mostly driven by older people and they are along the lines Jack alluded too. This is not to say older folks don’t own or prefer things more tasteful.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        One of the privileges of age is that complaining becomes sport. And, trust me, the previous older generation was equally whiny, just like the younger generation complaining about boomers being whiny.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You know, it occurs to me that whatever whinyness is happening now as opposed to former old people generations is going to be amplified by the Internets and Twitter and Facebook.

      In 1976 when your grandpa was whiney, you told your mom and she waved you off.

      In 2014 your grandpa complains via social media or to you, and you take to social media to announce it – and 10,000 people can see it. Permanently.

  • avatar
    EVdrive

    This reminds me of a trip I took as a freshman in college back in 1994. I drove my mom and I round-trip from Atlanta to Detroit in the winter in my 1986 Pontiac Bonnie. Other than fishtailing on ice into the median on the way back coming through Ohio she pulled through without incident. This was before I knew much about cars and it wasn’t until we made it back safe and sound when I realized my brakes were almost completely gone and two of my tires were bald. Ahhh, the ignorance of youth…how did I survive.

  • avatar
    EVdrive

    This reminds me of a trip I took as a freshman in college back in 1994. I drove my mom and I round-trip from Atlanta to Detroit in the winter in my 1986 Pontiac Bonnie. Other than fishtailing on ice into the median on the way back coming through Ohio she pulled through without incident. This was before I knew much about cars and it wasn’t until we made it back safe and sound when I realized my brakes were almost completely gone and two of my tires were bald. Ahhh, the ignorance of youth…how did I survive?

  • avatar
    omer333

    Jack, I hope you’ve had proper training when it comes to redheaded women. I can say after many redheaded ex-girlfriends and a redhead wife, that they are absolutely dangerous.

    Lovely, but dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Very true. My 88 year old mother now has white hair but retains the redhead traits. Family lore is that one time her cousin was mercilessly teasing her as young boys do. Her girlish response was to pick up a nearby chair and belt him with it. That cousin was my Dad’s best buddy through childhood and suggested to my Dad that he stop off and make her acquaintance during an otherwise aimless post WWII road-trip. Thank goodness for the suggestion.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Shieet, in 1992-1993 I did 2-3 NYC-Columbus OH trips in a 1973 2002 with no heater fan or speedo. That was very uneventful comparatively speaking – just fuel and drive at 5500 rpms all day.

  • avatar

    I drove my first x-country trip in ’70, in a ’62 Falcon, with two riders. Intent on keeping the car going as long as possible, I didn’t go more than a few mph over 50. First day, Cape Cod to S’cuse. Second day, which included part of day 3: S’cuse to Iowa City. (I wasn’t getting any sleep in the town park in S’cuse, and so we left at about 2:30 AM, got into I.C. 3AM the next morning, where one of my riders’ parents lived.

    Some point after Chicago, I felt the faintest sense that every now and then the car would lose a tiny bit of power. That feeling remained faint until the end of Wyoming, beginning of Utah, where began to get bad. At that point, we encountered quite the downpour. Rt. 80 is very hilly in that area, which accentuated the problem. I’d be flooring it up one of the hills, the vacuum operated wipers would pause, and I’d have to take my foot off the gas to let the wipers sweep, then floor it again.

    Had to have the carb rebuilt in Salt Lake City. But that was the only problem the car had going out and then coming back a year later.

    When the trucks passed me–as they all did–I could really feel the wind. And on the Bay Bridge, I had to turn the steering wheel more than 90 degrees to keep going straight in the crosswind.

  • avatar

    Jack, obviously you should have sent SAjeev a Piston Slap before setting out on this misadventure!

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Please tell me Kiki is going to blow off her corporate cubicle tomorrow and jump in the ‘pala for the last leg. That there will be dancing, drinking, and impromptu guitar solos upon the journey’s conclusion.

    And pictures of Kiki in flip-flops, short-shorts, and not much else.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Major problem Detroit cars this era was a complex carburetor and add on smog control devices.

  • avatar
    340-4

    My first 14 driving years were spent with a ’68 Caprice, 396, TH400. Not once on many long trips (longest was MT to NM) did that car let me down.

    However, I had to pretty much rebuild the whole thing (except for the transmission) and replace everything when I got the car to make that a reality.

    No AC though was brutal. But you could hit 20 mpg on the highway – 2.56 gears!

  • avatar
    Neb

    Everybody hates the road trip from hell, obviously, but I sure do love to read about them.

    The first family car I can remember was one of these – it was a metallic orange 4-door with the 305. My father tells me that it drove wonderfully for the era, but in the end the extra-voracious Canadian tinworm made him sell it.

    Also, I have a tip in case it helps. I’ve heard chewing gum, when combined with gasoline, becomes rock hard, and is very useful for plugging things leaking gasoline on the fly.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Where’s Murilee with a comparison to his ’65 Impala art car? That might make for a separate article, Jack and Murilee comparing notes. For those asking why people bother with such an old barge, see Murilee’s series. It turns out the basic vehicle engineering is sound, once proper upgrades from the GM parts bin have been installed. That’s what’s missing from Jack’s car.

    As for driving 1,000 miles at a time, I drove my ’68 Montego for such a stretch – once. Before and after, I limited myself to 600 miles and a Best Western. I’ve told my grandkids I never got any formal training in (fill in the blank), but I stayed at a Best Western in Peoria, Illinois in 1973, during a thunderstorm, with a tornado warning in effect . They were unimpressed, so I told them to ask their classmates if THEIR grandpa ever did that, and after they did, I got instant cred.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Car looks cool.

    I’m glad you did not die engulfed in flames.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I knew something was wrong with this particular car from the moment I read “hideously sensitive to crosswinds…requiring a tacking motion with the steering to keep it going straight.” The B-body was one of the better-handling cars of its era. No, it’s not as competent as a 2014 midsize sedan, but it’s much better than its contemporaries, including the midsize G-body that gets so much more love for some reason.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Driving old cars on long trips is character building. I took my 83 K-car on a 650 mile trip a few years ago. Before deciding to drive it vs. the 2007 Buick, I went back and forth. Yes, the 83 is in top mechanical condition, but it is (was) 29 years old. Decided that nice weather and the fact that the K-car was a convertible was worth the risk. Drove down to PA, around town on business the entire week, and then on the last day, the car quit. Fortunately, it was in a good part of town. Started once then quit. Pulled the air cleaner and didn’t see any fuel squirting in the carb. OK, fuel pump time. Parked it for the night and called a co-worker to come and get me. The car broke down in front of an Advance Auto Parts store, but would I be that lucky. No. We don’t have it, but the store 4 miles east has one. Got there at 5 minutes past their closing time. They said come back tomorrow. Got back to the hotel, went on line, and ordered the pump with a 20% discount. Put it in the next morning with the tools I had taken, and drove 650 miles back home.

    Yes, I’d do it again :)

  • avatar
    j3studio

    Great and involving writing as always, Jack. I must confess that I might have turned back as soon as things got sketchy with the gas tank.

    One of the things that is tough about either assessing or maintaining an old car is trying to figure out whether some behavior is normal or not. In other words, when this car was new and under warranty, is this how it was?

    Last month we drove “Lauren”, our 1985 Corvette, 6,281 miles back and forth across the US. We were on the road for a total of 15 days: one to stage to Times Square, New York City, eight to get from Times Square to Lincoln Park, San Francisco on the Lincoln Highway, six to return (really five and a half because we stopped at two museums on the second to last day).

    We had only two major problems:

    1) We ran into a hour and half traffic jam on the 280 on-ramp in Richmond, CA. “Lauren” was fine for the first hour and then vapor-locked (or something like it), causing wild surging and five (aaack!) stalls.

    2) The newly rebuilt passenger side door (less than a year old) degraded steadily (harder and harder to close) over the first part of the trip. Finally, in lonely Ely, Nevada, it would not open from the outside at a gas station. I got the door open from the inside and a 5-inch steel rod ejected violently from the door – sigh. We were able to use the manual door locks and the inside door handle for the rest of the trip, but the door will need to be fixed soon.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/j3studio/sets/72157644969902925/

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If you’re heading for Illinois let me know if you’re going through MO, I have a Volvo 244 that could use a critique.

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen a hoard of Panther buffs going on and on after that B-body and Marquis remark.

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    It does sound like an episode of Road Kill, except they would have dropped the gas tank in AutoZone’s parking lot & at some point ordered a pizza while fixing something else at another lot.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    It sure is a nice looking car.

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    PRND23?????

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In response to ‘Sigivald’, having owned/operated 8 mini-vans over the past 21 years, the Venture Value Van was dollar for dollar the 3rd best of the bunch and quite a bit better than most of the other vehicles (non mini-van) that I have owned over the past 4 decades. There were other mini-vans far, far worse than the Venture.

    As for those who refer to people in mini-vans looking desperate, I disagree 100% and instead agree with the commercials. Mini-vans are memory boxes. Long trips with lots of kids/friends/family members/pets. Holidays, ski trips, hockey tournaments, birthday parties, visits to the drive-in and moving away to university. The mini-van handles them all with greater aplomb than any other vehicle. Mini-vans remind me of happy times!

  • avatar
    donutguy

    Reminds me of the time I drove from North Myrtle Beach to York PA in 6 hours 50 minutes. Left Myrtle Beach at 8PM and got to my house at 3:50 AM. Stopped once for gas and got very lucky….I had a rabbit the whole way from South Carolina to Baltimore- somebody in a Crown Vic was going a steady 85-90 mph almost the whole way up 95.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m still doing the cross country road trips in 50 year old vehicles thing , none are restored so problems occasionally crop up .

    Jamming straight through and not taking the time to rest and keep after the rig , guarantees road trips from hell every time , I fail to see why anyone would deliberately set out to have a bad time .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    I drove my 77 Chevelle on the PowerTour last year, from DFW to Charlotte, back home along the Gulf for a 4,000 mile round trip back to Dallas. The car got a very close inspection by 3 of my friends, we overhauled the braking system, new hoses and belts and it was deemed good to go, with all systems functioning including the A/C system. On the way there, the only things I did was check the fluid levels, and found the fluid level was low for the transmission in Memphis due to a slight pan leak, tightend that up, and added a quart of oil every other tank of gas, It drinks oil at about a quart every 700-1,000 miles on the original and untouched 305 so it’s acceptable to me still. On the way back in Biloxi MS, the starter died in front of the lighthouse on the beach parking lot. I had all my tools with me, so I replaced the starter while the now ex-GF wandered the beach for two hours. That was the only malady that struck that car on that trip. It averaged 19mpg for the trip, with a couple highs of 22mpg and a low of 12 idling in traffic.

    It’s tossed a timing chain on a trip before, and ate a blower motor relay before, but overall it’s been a reliable car.

    And since the 77-96 B-body chassis is virtually identical to the 73-77 A-body chassis it also suffers from the crosswind tracking issues.

    We made lots of trips growing up in my parents then new 84 Olds 88… when it was new it was trouble free, and a good driver, as it aged, it aged poorly and ate several TH-200C transmissions, and by 130,000 miles was completely done at aged 13. It wasn’t all that roomy with 5 of us, all getting into pre-teens. I rode up front most of the time because the girls crowded out the backseat with all their crap, so I got to control the radio, and the A/C, and play driving games with mom and dad.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India