On the morning of Sunday June 15 we’ll be back on the road again in our timeworn, but reliable ’53 Pontiac Catalina. This time we’re heading for the Pontiac Oakland Club International (www.poci.org) 2014 Convention in downtown Wichita, Kan., June 18 thru June 21. We’ll be on the way home the 21 thru 23.
We are not planners and this is a sort of “Route 66” adventure that will be led by the old chief sitting on the hood. (Yes, he does light up at night, though we’re not expecting to do very much nighttime driving.) It will be our first trip without GPS in awhile. We took a quick look at the map and the route is roughly Iola to LaCrosse, then to Alnert Lea, then down towards Kansas City and south.
If all goes well, on Tuesday morning we’ll be stopping at Long Motor Co. (www.longmotor.com) in Lenexa, to see their car and truck parts operation. Then, we’ll buzz into Wichita to sit down with the POCI Board of Directors for dinner. After that, we get to see around 500 Pontiacs and Oaklands and GMC trucks.
The car seems to be running good. Despite being a little “cosmetically challenged” it has a rebuilt motor, rebuilt Hydra-Matic with a Fatsco (www.Fatsco.com) kit, a Waldron’s (www.waldronexhaust.com) stainless steel exhaust system, stainless steel brakes by Brake & Equipment Warehouse (www.brakeplace.com), Coker (www.coker.com) wide white radials and a brand new exhaust manifold gasket. We think it’s definitely trip worthy, though it’s no show car by today’s standards.
If past experience is any sign, the car should make the 1600+ mile round trip without breaking a sweat, but we are not planning to go over 50 mph. We’re guessing we’ll get 10-15 mpg highway and less around the city of Wichita. With us hitting the highway, somebody better open up those Anwar oil fields soon!
Last year we took the car on a 2-day 750-mile trip to Minnesota, then back towards the Great Lakes. A man saw the car at our last stop and said, “I noticed one just like it on the other side of the state yesterday.” We assured him that he wasn’t seeing double—it was our car he had seen. He was skeptical. He did not think Pontiac 8s could go that fast!
If you see a slightly worn, slightly dirty ’53 Catalina go by, please give a big wave. We hope to see other old cars on the road and other hobbyists wherever we go.