SEPTEMBER 1, 2011:COAST TO COASTERS 1931 DODGE-80 YEARS OLD AND GOING STRONG

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Glen Wasmuth picked up this self-described “rust bucket” ’31 Dodge for $25.00 in 1965.

 

He was 18-years-old at the time and it was his driver car.

 

Later on, he courted his future wife Edna, in the same car because, as she admitted, “you went with a guy who had any car because at least he had a car”.

 

Decades later, all three were still traveling together in one big cross country adventure called the Coast to Coast Canada tour.

 

The car was parked after they were married and nothing was done until 1985 when family and friends pitched in with body work and mechanical help. Edna took on the upholstery work. Suddenly the old Dodge was roadworthy again although, “it still needed work” it was drivable every summer. The Wasmuths upgraded the Dodge every winter to the point where they began to consider some large scale adventures in their Depression-era car.

 

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The 2000 Coast to Coast tour was a great place to begin an adventure-the old Dodge ran 6825 trouble-free miles from St. John’s Newfoundland to Victoria B.C. that year. In 2007 the Dodge made it to Anchorage Alaska and then ran the “Top of the World” highway through Chicken Alaska and piled up another 6009 miles.

 

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In 2010 they completed another Coast to Coast tour in the trusty old Dodge and towed a trailer in the process. Again, the car performed flawlessly on the tour.

 

Glen admits that he’s made a few basic upgrades on the car including signal lights-clearly a good idea when you’ve covered nearly 20,000 miles in real world traffic and weather. Glen went with a longer lens on the lights even though he admits that, “they’re not stock but they’re a lot safer”. Spoken from experience.

 

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Another upgrade was the addition of an overdrive unit on the transmission-that new tech idea means that the vintage Dodge can travel at 55 miles per hour. Glen concedes that 55 is only possible “on a level road when you’re not bucking a wind” but most car guys will give the 80 year old a break because of the trailer behind the car.

 

Even though the car has been heroic on the tours Glen admits that it has had a few hiccups.Extremely steep hills in the Canadian Rockies required low gear and Glen admits, “there was nothing left” but he always made his destination.

 

The elements also wreaked a little havoc with the octogenarian Dodge. The Alaska trip gave the car a little vapor lock at one point thanks to the heat and a deluge of rain drowned the distributor. In both cases, the Dodge was back on the road within minutes.

 

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The Wasmuths are experienced travelers so the “function over form” rule applies. Every Coast to Coaster hauling a trailer has to utilize space-especially Glen (driving the oldest original car hauling a trailer).

 

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There’s a solar panel on the rear window of the 80-year-old Dodge-an obvious nod to high-tech. Clearly the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath didn’t have one because John Steinbeck would have mentioned it in a “sun steals life from crops, then returns it” metaphorical sense. Glen reported that, “it’s for keeping the battery charged on the car, cell phones and the GPS”. Clearly Glen embraces the 21st Century even if he drives a car that was built before the Hoover Dam.

 

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Ultimately, the Wasmuth’s old Dodge is a testimony to nostalgia, family ties and the spirit of adventure-the cornerstones of the old car hobby.

 

Jerry Sutherland

For more car and owner relationships please follow this link-https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/

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