ROUTE 63 DAY 4—THOUGHTS ABOUT THE MOTHER ROAD

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It’s taken three days to see Route 66 on the Route 63 run, but it’s been worth the journey.

It’s the midpoint of Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles, so it’s an unwritten law to stop there. Timing was great because nobody was there in the offseason. I could take all the time I needed to stand in the middle of the road to line up a shot of the car. Don’t count on that in tourist season.

The New Mexico border wasn’t too far down the road. The roads got a little rougher and the wind stayed at gale force over most of the trip. The boxy old Plymouth felt every gust but that’s how it works with old iron—they don’t have computer protocols to compensate for steady 50 mile per hour blasts of wind.

This is a major trucking route, so you get the good and bad drivers. Most of them follow the slower traffic/right lane laws but some don’t. It made for some interesting scenarios because they only have a slight advantage over the guy they’re passing in a gale-force wind.

New Mexico’s scenery changes every five minutes from flat scrub brush prairie to mesas to mountains every ten miles. Albuquerque was a surprise because you enter it through a treed area with significant hills then it flattens out and you’re in the city.

They really have the interstates figured out because you blast through Albuquerque at a posted 65—but everybody does 80. The Plymouth didn’t even pass a school bus on that run. They have a street named after Indy legend Bobby Unser—I wonder if the police give you 30-50 mph leeway on that road to honor Bobby’s  memory.    

I did some research on the Route 66 history and learned how guys in 2024 wish more of the road was saved, but I see it differently. That just isn’t realistic—I’m more impressed with how much you do see of the original Mother Road beside I-40.

The one thing that’s disappointed me is the lack of fellow classics on the road. I thought I’d see more but so far; the old Plymouth is doing a solo most of the time. It’s okay to be a lone wolf but there’s nothing like comparing road warrior stories—like taping the passenger’s side of the hood down NASCAR style because it was lifting at an alarming rate doing 75 in major winds.

I know where the old iron is hiding. Every low-end, tumble-down house has at least two or three old cars or trucks (mostly square-body Chevys) tucked away on the property.   I traveled with my finger on the camera trigger and only got 20% of them because so many were hidden behind a fence or barn.

The last leg of the I-40 adventure was in Arizona.  It was also the worst part of the interstate—the road surface was more like a minefield for hapless old Plymouths.

Winslow, AZ was the last stop of the day because you can’t drive by the town from the Eagles song ‘Take it Easy’. The folks in Winslow made a cottage industry out of that tune—no wonder they have a statue of Glen Frey. The only confusing part was the other two flatbed trucks a few blocks away from the real one

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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