Wax On, Wax Off / by Brian Beck

Now that we're back from the big Paris trip, the next date on the calendar is Hawaii.  We're leaving for Kona on the 7th of August and returning on the 15th, and then a little over 24 hours after that, we leave on the mother of all road trips, a 3-1/2 week, 3,000 mile blacktop beatdown of 6 states and 5 national parks.  Most people of sound mind would rent an RV or maybe an Escalade with a full AV suite and hands free cruise control.  That's not how I roll.  No, I'm taking this one down old school, in a two-tone, Shelltone Ivory over Shoreline Gold 1960 Pontiac Star Chief. 

It wasn't supposed to be this car.  I spent the last 2+ years restoring a 1955 Pontiac that was intended to be the epic road trip machine.  Trouble was, by the time I was done, it wasn't a driver anymore, but a show car.  My dad was tired of showing his 1967 Nova and here was a freshly restored show car that I didn't want to subject to the inevitable wear and tear that such a trip would entail.  So a few months ago, I very carefully delivered it to him in Indiana on "permanent loan."  He would get more enjoyment from the car than I would with it sitting in my garage.

And indeed he has.  It's been a rainy summer in Indiana so a number of shows have been canceled but of the handful he's taken it to, the response has been fantastic.  He's still looking for the elusive "best of show" trophy but at the Ray Skilman show in Indianapolis, one of the largest of the summer, out of 225 cars, the '55 scored inside the top 20 and took home the "American Pride" award.  Not bad. 

But I digress... The goal this week was to get this 1960 Pontiac ready for a road trip.  According to the service records, the last time this car saw any significant mileage, Walter Mondale was running for president, so it's no mean feat.  I've been through most of the basic checkup items, did a complete tuneup and inspection, changed all the fluids, fixed some electrical gremlins and have toured the neighborhood a few times.  And yesterday and today, I polished all the chrome and paint, which may not sound like a big deal, but when you're working with 55 year old lacquer paint that can easily be burned with power tools, it's more art conservation than wax job.  If your arm doesn't feel like it's going to fall out of its socket, you're doing it wrong.

I'm happy to say however that it's ready to go, and Friday morning I'm taking the chillins  up to Yosemite for a camping weekend in the first and only test run she'll have before the big one.  I figure if it's going to break, it will do so on this 14 hour "roast"trip through the infernal Central Valley. And if it does, I'll have all of 4 days to fix whatever it is before we leave for Hawaii.  Wish me luck!

 Don't you want to put on some Bermuda shorts and aviator sunglasses when you see this?  Don Draper would be right at home behind the wheel.  Betty, can you bring me a martini?

Don't you want to put on some Bermuda shorts and aviator sunglasses when you see this?  Don Draper would be right at home behind the wheel.  Betty, can you bring me a martini?