Road Tour: Leg 2
The e-mail from STREET RODDER Editor Brian Brennan was short and to the point: "The tub's done and on its way to Texas." He was speaking of the new '34 phaeton from Australia that has been the subject of our "Ultimate Underpinnings" stories and the car that I would be driving on the Vintage Air leg of the Road Tour from San Antonio, Texas, to the Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Of course, my fearless leader had to add a footnote: "And by the way, you'll be on a deadline while you're on the road, so take your laptop." I could almost see the big grin on his face on the computer screen.

The trip got off to an interesting start. If you want to see pandemonium at the airport, watch what happens when the guy in front of you tosses an overnight bag on the screening conveyor and an electric tooth brush is inadvertently turned on. You can get a pretty accurate head count of all the TSA employees on duty.

Like most street rodders, I'd rather drive to an event than fly, but since the '34 tub Tom Medley and I would be touring in was waiting in San Antonio, we both winged our way to Texas. After arriving at Vintage Air on Thursday, the first order of business was to check out what needed to be done to the phaeton, as it had accumulated very few miles before being hauled to San Antonio. It turned out that a couple of brake line fittings were seeping, both exhaust pipes needed to be wrapped-as they were close to the fuel lines and pump-the frontend needed more caster, and the headlights needed adjustment. For a new car, these were all minor glitches, all of which were easier to fix at Vintage Air than on the road, plus we had capable help.

Landis Chisenhall was drafted to lend a hand on the tub, and our hosts were making all preparations to get underway while we puttered with the phaeton. Jack Chisenhall was welding a cracked grille bar on his mega-mile '39 sedan, Rick Love was searching for the source of a new noise from his equally well-traveled '39 Ford coupe, and George Packard was trying to avoid eye contact because his pristine Deuce coupe needed nothing other than gas.

The tub was ready by Saturday, as was Jack's sedan. Rick discovered the water pump on his coupe was the culprit responsible for the racket from under the hood, but again it was something easier to fix in the shop rather than on the road so repairs on his ride continued.

After a short drivers' meeting Sunday morning, we were off to our first stop on the trip, Hatfield Restorations in Canton, Texas. Looking through the variety of buildings on the park-like grounds gave us some insight into Gary Hatfield's operation, which revolves around the fact that they do first-class work on classics, musclecars, and street rods, and almost anything with wheels. There's nothing these guys can't do, and that includes preparing great Mexican food. After saying so long to the gracious Hatfield crew, we were off to our first night stop at the Boomtown Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana.

The group's first destination on Monday was the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum in nearby Gibsland. Boots Hinton, whose father was one of the lawmen involved in the ambush of the outlaw duo, was our host. Interestingly, the museum occupies the former location of Ma Canfield's Caf, where Bonnie and Clyde dined for the last time.

Next on the agenda was a visit to historic Vicksburg, Mississippi, and a tour of the National Military Park, which commemorates the campaign, siege, and defense of the area during the Civil War. The USS Cairo is on display, along with 1,330 monuments and markers, a 16-mile tour road, and a National Cemetery. Sunk during the battle, the Cairo sat on the bottom of the Yazoo River in Mississippi for 102 years; it was raised in 1964 and is now on display.