There are many facets to this hobby of ours, but driving our street rods, attending events to see other cool cars, and hanging out with great people are big parts of it all. And all of those parts were the plan for the second leg of the 2006 PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour. The drive would be from San Antonio, Texas, to Pomona, California, the event would be the L.A. Roadsters' Exhibition, Swap Meet, and Trade Show, and the people would all be like-minded, diehard enthusiasts traveling together.
Over the years, Vintage Air's president, Jack Chisenhall, has been a tireless supporter of STREET RODDER's driving events, and no one has worked harder to make them successful than the company's vice president, Rick Love. As always, Rick pulled out all the stops to make the '06 event memorable. Unfortunately, there were a few unexpected incidents that also made the trip memorable--at least for me.
After arriving in San Antonio and picking up the '05 Road Tour '36 Ford coupe, I decided to stop for dinner on the way to the motel. It was there in the Arby's parking lot as I exited and closed the handle-less door to the coupe that two things happened simultaneously: The latch made an audible click and the keys with FOB for the power windows became visible on the seat--oops. Because we had never gotten around to installing the hidden switch planned, there was no way to roll the window down and use the inside door handle--I was locked out and out of luck. But, as anyone who has ever had a problem with a street rod on the road knows, there's always someone willing to help. In this case it was tour mate Ellis Simmons. He had heard the coupe rumble by and decided to check it out. Fortunately the door hadn't closed completely, and by knocking out the upper hinge pin we were able to move the top of the door out and retrieve the keys with a wire. With the annual San Antonio snafu solved (last year our luggage was stolen), my new friend and I headed to the airport to pick up my traveling companion, Tex Smith.
We joined the crowd waiting to depart bright and early on the morning of the 11th. Among the crowd were Jim "Jake" Jacobs, Jimmy Vaughn, and Jerry Dixey in the recently completed '06 Road Tour Chevy coupe. After some last-minute instructions from Rick, 45-plus cars hit Highway 90.
As we rolled down the road, the usually powerful coupe began to lose power and act as though it was running out of fuel. We topped of the tank in Uvalde, Texas, but the problem persisted so we found a shady spot in a closed car wash and changed the fuel filter. Like we said before, whenever you have a problem with a street rod on the road there's always someone willing to help. In this case Mike Cox pulled up in his Deuce coupe to give us a hand.
With the '36 seemingly repaired, we took off to catch up with the rest of the group. Taking a country road to miss construction, we were concerned that Mike might not want to push his coupe too hard down the two-lane. Suffice it to say, our concerns were unfounded and that coupe runs and handles as well as it looks. We caught up with the Road Tour in the U.S./Mexico border town of Del Rio. Continuing west on Highway 90, the next stop was the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center. As characterized in the movie starring Paul Newman, Bean presided over the curious combination of pool hall, bar, and courthouse, and in the 1800s was known as the only law west of the Pecos. Later that afternoon, we pulled into Fort Davis, Texas. The cool part was that the Limpia Hotel where we were staying looked like it was straight out of the Old West; the not-so-cool part was that the '36 was still not running well.
That evening we attended a private "star party" at the McDonald Observatory located in the nearby Davis Mountains. A unit of the University of Texas, the facility is one of the world's leading centers for astronomical research. But after looking at the moon and the stars and searching in vain for little bitty spacemen, it was time to come back to Earth and fix our ride. At this point we suspected one of two things: the fuel injection's oxygen sensor or the fuel pump. Since we had a spare pump, that's what we changed--too bad we didn't have a spare oxygen sensor. As we left Fort Davis it was obvious that the fuel pump had not fixed the problem, but we made an interesting discovery. If the engine was shut off, the fuel injection's computer would reset and we could then restart the engine and it would run normally until the faulty information from the bad oxygen sensor caused the engine to lean out and begin missing. As the car was going to be left at MSD in San Antonio, we decided to press on--we'd go until the engine began to stumble, then shut it off and restart it. The people we passed--who then passed us when we slowed down only to have us pass them again--must have thought the guys in that '36 were nuts.
Despite the complications getting there, the stop at MSD was worth it. After a great lunch we got a tour of the facility, one of a number the company operates. Along with seeing what goes in to assembling ignition systems, we were treated to a demonstration showing the energy an MSD Top Fuel magneto delivers; sparks were flying that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud. After looking at the busy R&D facility and the dyno cells, it was time to continue on our trek west. A number of cars joined us at this stop, including Brent VanDervort of Fatman Fabrications.
With the '36 delivered to MSD, I jumped in with George Packard. Here's a traveling tip: If you're going to hitch a ride through the desert, there's nobody better than someone who works for Vintage Air. It may have been hot outside, but it was nice and cool inside good buddy George's coupe.
Our next stop was the Pima Air and Space Museum. An amazing array of aircraft is on display, but for some, just being able to get up close to a beautifully restored B-17 was worth the trip. Evidently riding in the comfort of George's air conditioned coupe earlier in the day had frozen my brain because when Chick Koszis invited me to enjoy the 114-degee day in his topless Deuce, I jumped in; getting a chance to ride in a blown highboy is just too good to pass up. Tuesday's lunch stop was at the all-new Hi Speed Rods & Customs in Tucson, Arizona. John Sewell, John Jr., Anthony Ribeau, and Paul Martinez have put together an impressive facility that has something for every rod, custom, and bike enthusiast. They not only know how to put together a first-class facility, they serve a heck of a lunch too!
Next we were off to SO-CAL Speed Shop in Phoenix where Frank and Mary Streff provided food and plenty of cold refreshments. As always, there was a lot of cool new stuff to look at inside the showroom along with some pretty nice cars for sale outside. From SO-CAL to our night stop in Peoria, Arizona, I had the opportunity to ride with George Slover in his '34 Ford three-window. Much to my surprise, I learned that George had built the fiberglass body from molds bought from a friend.
Wednesday morning began with a breakfast stop at RB's Obsolete where Ray and Karen Doe were our hosts. An impressive operation with a sizable inventory, it appeared they also had every Krispy Kreme donut in town on hand. Good thing Brennan wasn't there; he would have put himself in a sugar coma. On the leg from Phoenix to California, I got to ride with pal Danny Zoeller in his '51 Ford woodie. It didn't seem long until we pulled up in front of Barry White's Street Rod Repair in Corona. After touring Barry's shop and checking out the array of cars under construction, we made an unscheduled stop across the street at Marcel's Custom Metal Shaping.
At this point you would think there wasn't much left to do, but Rick wasn't done with us yet. Thursday morning, the group was off to the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A. and then to the SO-CAL open house in Pomona that afternoon, with a stop at the famous Farmer's Market in between. The final event of the week was the L.A. Roadsters' Father's Day event on Saturday and Sunday. If there was a great way to wrap up a fantastic tour, that was definitely it.
This year's PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour #2 had lots of everything--miles to drive, things to see, and people to meet. And isn't that what street rodding is all about?
One of the treats of the trip...
One of the treats of the trip was the opportunity to fill the Claremont drive-in theater with street rods and watch the new flick, "Cars." There was a great show on and off the screen. (Photo by Mike Harrington)
For a street rodder, the view...
For a street rodder, the view doesn't get better than looking out the windshield of a chopped '32 Ford. Good buddy George Packard let us ride along in his ultra-fine five-window.
In preparation to leave San...
In preparation to leave San Antonio on the second leg of the PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour, a cast of 45-plus street rods converged on Vintage Air's cool new facility.
A few tour participants took...
A few tour participants took the opportunity to use the Vintage Air R&D facility to do some last-minute tweaking on their rides. No, the cart didn't make the trip.
How's this for service? Two...
How's this for service? Two of Vintage Air's coolest guys, George Packard (left) and Rick Love, spent more hours than they should have giving our '36 much needed maintenance.
Road Tour regular Bruce Burroughs...
Road Tour regular Bruce Burroughs checked in for the tour in his rare roadster pickup. The Deuce gets its share of double takes, even without the sign.
This is somewhere west of...
This is somewhere west of San Antonio, Sanderson, Texas (population: 6, to be exact). We stopped for refreshments and one-third of the town came outside to check out the coupe.
Another Road Tour veteran,...
Another Road Tour veteran, Mike Cox drove his '32 Ford coupe with his nephew, Anthony Jarvis, riding shotgun. This is one haulin' five-window that clicks off the miles effortlessly.
Our first night stop was Fort...
Our first night stop was Fort Davis, TX. A real throwback to the Wild West, you could almost hear the spurs jingling on the front porch. Or were those beer bottles?
One of Jimmy Vaughn's claims...
One of Jimmy Vaughn's claims to fame is this tasty '35 Ford three-window with a stout Flathead for power. Oh yeah, he also happens to be one of the finest musicians on the planet.