Shop Talk

Racking up the miles amid summer fun

Andy Bolig - August 16, 2012 10:00 AM



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We deal with cars. That goes without saying, but what sometimes DOES bear re-stating from time to time is that inherent with being a car, they were built to be driven.

I’ve been doing my fair share of racking up the miles in my ’85 Corvette. So far, the experience has been great. I enjoy driving my car and getting to see some of the countryside while doing it is just icing on the cake.

You can’t say that the desire to drive our cars is a new one. Look back over the decades and you’ll see, whether on the open road, or down the quarter-mile, enthusiasts have been driving their cars and getting every smile-per-gallon that they can. We recently heard a story of an adventurous group of ladies that trekked out in their new-at-the-time 1924 Chevrolet from Wisconsin and set out to see the entire West Coast! Their 5,000 mile trip was covered entirely on gravel roads. They managed to hit the highway, even before there were highways!

You can look around and see that along with the additional horsepower that today’s EFI systems can provide, maybe the most important thing that it delivers is the drivability that also makes mile-ing up the odometer such a fun task. Let’s face it, we’re enjoying the very same horsepower levels that dominated the “muscle car era” AND, we’ve got a much cleaner running car, better fuel mileage and all the creature comforts inside. Oh how I would LOVE to get behind the wheel of any Hemi-powered cruiser or L88-equipped monster but, if there are multiple state lines involved, especially in the midst of mid-summer, I just might opt for a newer variant, especially if I’m covering the fuel costs.

On the other hand, there’s something about the visceral feel of those early cars. The smells and sounds of yesteryear only add to the adventure. Could you imagine driving an early fuelie Corvette over a stretch of Route 66, or piloting an open car up and over some of the most scenic areas that this country has to offer?

Sure, there are those stone chips and other worries to contend with and I understand the weight that these things can bear when you’ve put a large portion of your child’s tuition into the paint job covering your ride. Heaven forbid that we’d advocate doing damage to anyone’s pride and joy. On the other hand, I’ve personally seen entire chassis needing to be rebuilt simply because they never moved from when they were painstakingly restored. After a couple of decades, the “never used” rubber bushings eventually wound up distorted and unusable. If the car were to ever realize its intended purpose when created, it would first need a complete re-do of the suspension to eradicate what the years had done to it. Even though there was NO wear on any of the parts, time had taken its toll.

This past weekend, I spoke with an enthusiast who owns a 1922 Oakland. He explained to me how he has owned this particular car since 1944. It came to him in boxes and over time, he lovingly re-built the car – into a driver. While it might not be a high-mile runner, he drives it to shows and takes it out to have fun throughout the summer months. He’s having a ball with his car in much the same way as many other enthusiasts.

If you enjoy some serious seat-time in your favorite ride, feel free to email me at and share some photos and story of your pride and joy. If we receive enough of them, we’ll put a section together to share them with the world and, if the folks that we’ve talked to lately are any indication, there should be a LOT of road rangers out there for us to share.