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  1. Default Cross country in a '68 Impala - NY to SF/LA and back

    Hello all, first post here. I have been wanting to do the cross country road trip for a while, and now that I'll be finished with college, I'm thinking of doing this in the spring, and in my 68 Chevy Impala. I want some input on how smart of an idea it would be to do this in a classic car. My idea is that it will be really fun as the car is in nice shape, runs great, has lots of room and is generally a big highway cruiser. Also could be great for some photo opportunities on the way. I of course will be getting it fully serviced soon as it's been sitting in my garage for a while, but it is a simple car with no AC or power windows, so things that will break are at a minimum, and with a high amount of parts available, an emergency service shouldn't be a big problem. Of course, during pre-trip servicing I'll be telling my mechanic that I plan on putting around 7000-8000 miles on it during a road trip, and will be getting their opinion on if they think it's a good idea. Besides the much higher cost for fuel (I think it gets around 12-15 mpg, runs on premium), I feel like this would be the experience of a lifetime. This will be my first cross country drive, and I am hoping to do it with at least 2 others, at least one of them who'll be able to drive the car - it's got a tricky manual transmission. Anyway, is this a really bad idea, or is driving an old car without AC something that would be fun in the springtime? (I'm thinking around April)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I don't see a problem as long as it's mechanically sound and you can afford to feed it. If it's been sitting for a while, check the tires, belts, and hoses carefully for dry rot and replace them if there's any doubt.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default " The American dream"

    This is how we dream of crossing America here in the U.K.

    Hello all, first post here. I have been wanting to do the cross country road trip for a while, and now that I'll be finished with college, I'm thinking of doing this in the spring, and in my 68 Chevy Impala. I want some input on how smart of an idea it would be to do this in a classic car.
    How cool is that ! Welcome to the R.T.A. forums.

    Also could be great for some photo opportunities on the way. I of course will be getting it fully serviced soon as it's been sitting in my garage for a while,
    Speaking of photo opp's, have you got any you could post up of the "bruiser", I love these classiics.
    If it's been sitting for a while then I would [as you suggested] get it looked at fully and serviced. Although I would personally take it for a couple of "shake down" trips closer to home before embarking on the big one, when cars have been sitting they can throw up the odd surprise in the first few miles, [normally little things that are disruptive.]

    it's got a tricky manual transmission.
    Goody, A proper car ;-)

    Anyway, is this a really bad idea,
    Not at all, it could be a great adventure and one I would love to read about on your return. However I think the decision will be easier to make when the old girls had her "health check" and you have an informed opinion on her condition.

    Have a look around the forums for ideas and if you need any help with your itinerary then ask away.

  4. #4

    Default Hey, you're taking MY trip!

    Hello iceberg,

    Just over 35 years ago, when I graduated from high school, a friend and I "planned" to take a cross-country trip in my 1969 Impala. A few details like parental permission (the car was titled to them), money, girlfriends, and the Draft Board interfered, so we didn't do it.

    I say go for it, absolutely.

    By the way, I now own a 1966 Impala convertible, but it's out of service at present, having gently kissed a utility pole with my 16 year old son at the helm. He's yet to raise the money to fix it.

    Anyway, in addition to the aformentioned maintenance, I'd suggest the following:

    I wouldn't trust belts or hoses and would simply replace all of them, including the heater hoses. Hoses are fairly cheap and installation is simple. Keep the old hoses and belts as spares--they're working now, so will do just fine for spares.

    Before replacing the hoses, have the entire cooling system flushed with cooling system cleaner, then replace the hoses before refilling with a fresh antifreeze + water mixture. Be sure to install a new thermostat while the hoses are off. Again, cheap and easy to install.

    Completely bleed the brakes and replace the fluid.

    Change the rear differential lube. This is a heavy gear oil, typically a 90 weight, and it's crucial to change it before taking a thousands of miles trip. While I agree parts for a '68 Impala are readily available, you don't really want to burn up a ring and pinion gearset in Arizona. Changing the fluid and assuring the fresh fluid is up to the proper level is the way to keep the rear wheel bearings lubed, too, as they rely on the rear differential housing fluid for lube, or so I believe is the case. That's worthy of confirmation, as if not correct, you'll want to pull the rear wheel bearings and replace them, too. Losing a rear bearing on the highway often means chewing up the axle half-shaft in the process and also often results in the entire wheel + halfshaft assembly "walking" out of the housing while under way. It ain't an easy fix and it ain't pretty. More often than not a situation called a "wreck" follows.

    Pull and repack the front wheel bearings. Trust me on this one. In fact, if you're unsure as to the history on the bearings, just replace them--they're not terribly expensive, and the replacement costs substitutes for labor to clean the old ones and repack them to a certain degree.

    Do a full chassis lube, paying particular attention to the lube points in the steering and front suspension.

    Consider new tires if your present rubber is more than, say, 4-5 years old. Again, trust me on this one. I lost a tire to a blowout at 80mph on my '66Impala. It looked fine--lots of tread, but was at least 8 years old and had dryrotted.

    So, for sure, go for it. I hope you'll remain in touch as the planning and the execution of the Road Trip proceeds.

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Living the Dream

    I can't say much more than what has already been said. The potential maintenence issues would be my biggest concern, but you've already got some excellent advice in that regard.

    Many people dream of doing what you're thinking of, but because its hard to get a great classic car, and get it into good running shape, its a big of a challenge. If you've cleared that hurdle, then you're in great shape! Good Luck!

  6. #6

    Default

    Make sure the car is sound mechanically and you will have a great trip.

    I pulled my 59 Ford Custom 300 out of service this fall in order to revamp it for a couple of planned trips next summer. It gets a whopping 25 mpg at 60 mph(very small six cylinder under the hood). I am definitely looking forward to pointing that thing west and laying the throttle on.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Sounds like fun

    Quote Originally Posted by iceberg68 View Post
    This will be my first cross country drive, and I am hoping to do it with at least 2 others, at least one of them who'll be able to drive the car - it's got a tricky manual transmission.
    I would suggest having that checked out - if there's something "tricky" about it, you'll want to have that taken care of right away. Or is it just "tricky" because it's a standard shift?

    Anyway, is this a really bad idea, or is driving an old car without AC something that would be fun in the springtime? (I'm thinking around April)
    I don't see a problem with it. You can always roll down the windows and speed up a bit if you need a cooling breeze! What do you have under the hood (I'm betting it isn't a big block).

  8. #8

    Default

    This sounds like an amazing opportunity - I just got back home to North Jersey from a trip in a minivan from here to San Francisco/Los Angeles and back! And reading about your road trip set for spring, I wish I were taking that trip with you!

    First of all, it's an incredible journey, and one you'll never forget. Secondly, I originally wanted to take my trip in a '67 Impala, but concerns about finding a reliable one in good running condition and fuel economy made me opt for taking the minivan I already had that gets great highway mileage and is very roomy and comfortable. I should note that my van was in great shape with low mileage, and it definitely experienced some troubles along the way, most of them minor, but there's definitely wear that goes into making a big 7,000-8,000 mile trek.

    Another thing is that I took my trip alone, and while it was great riding solo, I'd love to take that trip or one like it with others, and get the best of riding in good company, having already done it my way the first time around.

    I get dreamy-eyed just thinking about it all.

    As soon as I got home, I wanted nothing more than to plan hitting the road again, especially since now I'm home with nothing to do for a while, and I'm missing the road a lot already. And that would be my next big dream trip. I wish you the best of luck with it, and I hope you'll post reports from the road!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    Posts
    15

    Default Based on my experience, its a great idea!

    All,

    Back in 2004 I was in the same boat as you, I wanted to take my muscle car on a roadtrip but I was terrified of the endless list of things that could go wrong. I also found people I talked to seemed to take great delight in pointing out why it was not a good idea.

    On May 14th 2004 I threw caution to the wind and set off from Toronto Canada to Las Vegas in a 440ci Plum Crazy Challenger. For me, there is no better feeling that the sound of the car, the radio and the nostalgic feeling. I was amazed at the number of good people I met each time we stopped or even while driving and everyone was intrigued by my quest. We broke a belt in Crook Colorado and before the car rolled to a stop there were people pulling over to offer rides/help. Net cost of the repair including transportation into and out of town was $12.00 and the gentleman running the little shop regalled us with stories of the Challenger he owned as a young man while we fixed the car. I've made the trip six different times now sometimes in the Challenger, twice in an 87 Daytona and once in a 1968 Charger I bought in Vegas.

    The moral of my story, don't overthink it or you will miss out! Worst case scenario, arrange to have the car shipped back, catch a flight home. The piece that you can't quantify until you try it is the experiences/people that you will encounter along the way.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Livetodrive; 12-12-2008 at 03:29 PM. Reason: Add pic

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Nice choice of wheels !

    Hey Livetodrive, great post !

    That's what it's all about. Take the sensible precautions beforehand to try and make things go as smooth as possible and enjoy the ride.

    The moral of my story, don't overthink it or you will miss out!
    I like that.

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