In 2018, Kate won a national art contest hosted by RedKap to create a shirt design to represent them at SEMA in Las Vegas that year. RedKap not only provided the exclusive opportunity for Kate to network and market her art business, but the company graciously provided Kate and I with free room and board with full access to the SEMA show.
When Kate broke the news of winning the contest, I felt this would be an ideal chance to make road-tripping Route 66 in a classic car a dream come true for both of us. We pitched the idea to RedKap and they were as stoked about it as we were. Shortly after, we started planning and prepping the Polara for 2 weeks of cruising America's highway, also known as, "The Mother Road".
What to Bring
Planning a 3000+ mile road trip in a classic car was no small feat. I knew the Polara’s original 50,000-mile engine could handle the trip, but it was the small things that I had to watch out for such as, spark plugs gumming up, fuses blowing, fuel line and filter leaks, braking component failures, cooling system issues.
On top of getting the general maintenance in tip-top shape, the windshield wiper motor had finally seen its last days.
A nearly impossible part to find (especially on a budget). With the possibility of running into snow when passing through the higher altitudes of Flagstaff, Arizona, I didn’t want to risk it!
After hours of late-night online searching, I found a NOS (New-Old-Stock) never used wiper motor in original packaging on eBay and had it overnighted directly to us. (Insert "overnight parts from Japan" Fast & Furious joke). My father-in-law came over to help work on the car, and in no time, we had the new wiper motor installed.
The Route 66 Trip
We left at 4 AM and hit the road! We had a nail in a tire on day 2 in Amarillo but were luckily near a Love’s Truck Stop and the guys fixed it at no charge! Later in the trip, I noticed the car running not as well and decided to adjust the valves in the parking lot of the Rancho Motel in Gallup, New Mexico. Due to the amount of weight of the spare parts and tools in the trunk, and the altitude changes, the original two-barrel Carter carburetor struggled on the return trip. We were sure it had to be upgraded as soon as we got home!
After spending 7+ days and 2,600 miles in the Polara, we had very minimal issues. I've since decided there is nothing, absolutely nothing, (that I have found in life yet), that can beat driving a classic car across America. It was like traveling back in time, especially stopping at all the famous “gitchy” roadside attractions and hotels such as the Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook, Arizona, the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, The Hoover Dam, Delgadillo’s Snow Cap in Seligman, Arizona, and many, many more.
See the slideshow below!
After that trip, we fell in even more love with the Polara! Thanks to my wife’s awesome Christmas gift, we finally upgraded that old wore-out carburetor, with a 350cfm 2bbl Street Avenger from Holley. With the original Poly 318 4bbl intake manifolds being extremely rare and costly, we were forced to remain with the 2bbl. Hopefully one day in the future we will find either the funds or a cheap manifold at a swap meet.
While swapping in some new rear leaf springs, we upgraded the old unsafe front drum brakes to a more modern and safe disc brake set up from Master Power Brakes. We also changed out the old single pot master cylinder for a modern dual pot. I decided that I didn't really care for the reverse light in the center of the two red brake lights, so I swapped them to the center closest to the license plate.
After wrenching an entire weekend, we installed all new brakes, leaf springs, and pulled off all the trim, the grill, and the front and rear windshields to get her delivered over to Inline Paint and Body.
We chose to go to Josh over at Inline Paint and Body because of his natural, awesome talent of painting metal-flake candy roofs. We knew he could tackle what I had in mind for the new paint scheme on our Polara.
A metal flake, candy red, roof, with the original white body, matte cleared to preserve the original patina.