DAY ONE–ROUTE 63: MEET ME IN MONTANA

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Every car guy has a hidden dream to hit the road and travel down Route 66 but there’s one condition.

You can’t do this trip in a Saturn Ion or a Honda Accord or a Tesla because those cars have no soul—none.

That’s why Jim and I (the MyStar guys) have to do this Route 66 road trip in a 1963 Plymouth. This car is 61 years old, so it comes from an era when a smart phone was a concept you saw on The Jetsons.   

That’s also why this road trip is called Route 63.

There are many practical reasons to take a new car on a trip like this. You get better mileage, they’re quieter and they have space age technology to answer your every need. Some of them even drive themselves but that’s like comparing a flight simulator to flying a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain. The key to success in an old car road trip is plan for failure—that’s why the trunk was full of parts and tools.

An old car has its own personality and they’re so predictable you can count on stuff you ignored to haunt you on a road. For example, the driver’s door has had a problem for a few months—it was ignored so the chances of opening it dropped faster than Wile E Coyote going over a cliff. I’d like to say this problem is new, but it developed last year…

I’m not a big fan of crossing the border. It’s a mental thing, because most of the time it’s pretty routine whether you cross into Washington or Montana or Idaho, but I always worry about looking like some guy who’s on a shoot-to-kill watch when I talk to border guards.

It was pretty routine this time. The guy wanted to know why Jim drove into the commercial truck lane and why anyone would want to drive on Route 66. I like Montana—they’re renegades like Albertans and they have higher speed limits (in miles). Plus their gas prices are 30-40% lower because they don’t practice Climate Religion. Montana’s the only place where you can see snow and major bug splats within minutes. 

Montana is always a great place to visit because of the scenery, good roads, and the great car crops—plus you rip through some serious miles at 80 mph. The old Plymouth took it like a boss but you know it’s 61 years old at 80 into a tight curve —it doesn’t handle like a Porsche 911.

It was a marathon run to Billings, but it worked out—after a hotel switch. The first one looked like it should have a chalk outline on the carpet with suspicious stains, but the second one worked out.

Day One and the old Belvey never missed a beat.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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