America’s Car Museum is preparing three vintage cars for the extreme winter weather expected on a 13-day road rally beginning Dec. 27, 2015. The cross-country trek, called “The Drive Home,” will highlight America’s love affair with the car, promote pride in the American automotive heritage and celebrate Detroit as the home of the American auto industry.
Three of ACM’s cars—a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300G and a 1966 Ford Mustang—are being thoroughly recommissioned by the ACM Collections Department. Its task is to ensure that the cars can safely complete a snowy and ice-filled 2,400-mile trip from Tacoma, Washington, to Detroit in the winter.
“These cars previously received some form of restoration from their previous owners but then spent many years off the road,” said Renee Crist, ACM collections manager. “So we took the planned route, terrain and the time of year into consideration when developing a comprehensive work plan for each vehicle, going as far as rebuilding the brakes, steering and suspension of the Nomad to ensure that we could safely make it to Detroit for the opening of the North American International Auto Show.”
The museum employed two recent apprentices from the Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum—an education initiative to provide young adults with hands-on experience in automotive restoration. The apprentices assisted Crist in rebuilding or replacing all brake system components, wheel and axle bearings and steering parts. They also checked electrical system components, suspension bushings and shocks.
“It’s easy to forget just how far automotive technology and safety have come,” said Crist. For example, she said, the youngest car, the ’66 Mustang, was sold in the first year of federally mandated safety standards. So despite minimal external changes from earlier Mustangs, it featured standard safety equipment including front and rear seatbelts, emergency flashers and windshield washers. “Taking this into consideration,” said Crist, “each car was meticulously examined.”
ACM is planning stops in major cities every day of The Drive Home and inviting car clubs and enthusiasts to join along the way. Destinations include Portland and Bend, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City; Lakewood, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Louis; Bloomington, Illinois, and Chicago; and a final celebration in Detroit in conjunction with the auto show.
“Renée and her team have done a terrific job in bringing these cars up to speed,” said ACM CEO David Madeira. “With support from terrific sponsors including NAIAS, State Farm, Hagerty and Michelin, we’re able to share the stories of these incredible vehicles with people across the country and able to promote [the Hagerty Education Program]. The program trains young people to enter the preservation and restoration industry, which is severely in need of a new generation of skilled artisans.”
For more information on The Drive Home, visit americascarmuseum.org/TheDriveHome
For more information on ACM, visit americascarmuseum.org