I am not sure how or when an awareness that old cars and trucks were near perfect time machines crept into mind. After all vehicles such as these, many of which were manufactured before I was born, have served as my transportation for years. In fact, for most of our thirty year relationship one or both of the vehicles in the stable were at least fifty years old.
The current fleet consists of the 1968 Dodge Adventurer, often referred to as Barney resultant of Don Knott’s role as celebrity spokesman for these trucks when new, and a 1998 Jeep Cherokee. These vehicles were the replacements for a 1973 Olds Delta 88 sedan that had served us well for 16 years, and a 1988 Ford Crown Victoria Country Squire station wagon that had survived camping trips, road trips, and my son learning to drive.
As time machines, vintage vehicles, especially when enjoyed on a road like Route 66 where the neon is again shining bright, truly transport the driver into another era. The technology involved with repairs, the smells, the view of the road, and if fortunate enough, the tunes from an old tube type radio, become a multifaceted package that allows for immersion into that lost world.
Hot rods and custom cars just don’t have that magic, that essence. After all, they are little more than modern cars masquerading as old cars.
Time and again I have heard the arguments made in an attempt to justify the transformation of a time machine into a machine. Six volt electrical systems provide for sluggish starts. The brakes … The speed …. the cost of repairs …
Surprisingly, many of these issues are merely resultant of improper maintenance and adjustments caused by having to deal with lost arts or antiquated technology. The World War II Jeep was six volt and even when new, the engine was almost twenty years old but it seems to have worked out rather well.
Instilling an awareness of vintage vehicles as fun rather than as investments, and Route 66 as the ideal place for enjoying those vehicles, was a secondary reason behind my endeavor to trade corporate sponsorship for advertising during my Route 66 encyclopedia promotional tour this fall. Yes, new vehicles have the creature comforts but they lack the character, the ability to bridge the chasm between past and present like old cars and Route 66.
Initially, I drove old cars and trucks because they were cheap to purchase, cheap to maintain, and relatively easy for someone with limited mechanical attributes to repair. Dependent on the vehicle purchased, they still are.
On numerous occasions I have shared a few of my vintage car adventures on the blog. Those exploits remain as some of my favorite memories. And I hope that in the future there will more opportunities for making those type of memories behind the wheel of …