For those that don’t know, in the Fall of 2017 I went on an 18,200 mile, 9 week, 48 State road trip called 48 Cars 48 States : The Great American Road Trip.
I hit all lower 48 states in my 1963 Galaxie to capture a snapshot of what the traditionally inspired hot rod and kustom car world looks like in 2017. I travelled America’s highways and byways and shoot a different traditionally inspired hot rod, kustom or drag car in each state, sharing the stories of the places that I go, the people that I meet and the cars that they own on my blog here and then in a 226+ page book. You’ll find maps of the trip, feature articles of the 48 vehicles, 6 events, 2 breakdowns and more from the entire trip.
Order the 48 Cars 48 States book here:
It’s only $86.50 shipped anywhere in the USA
Scroll down to find the blog posts from the trip including podcast interviews with some of the car owners.
While Corvettes are not my normal fare, they were customized back when they were new because they weren’t the sacred cow that they’ve become. This one belongs to custom car aficionado Mark Moriarty of the Minneapolis, MN area.
Mark has a bunch of cool cars, heck he has two in his LIVING ROOM, plus a few more in the garage. Some historic traditional customs, a car very similar to the Chevelle he had in his younger days, a couple of the Zinger cars, a very fast looking boat and a rocket powered go kart. You read that right…
So the car that he chose from his collection to shoot for this project was his Corvette. It has some minor modifications to clean it up and hop it up a bit. It’s very clean, shaving the door handles really changes the flow of the door panels. The car is fun to ride in and has a great look to it. I was honored to get to hang out with Mark and see his collection.
My friend and a great artist Todd Jones introduced me to Jeremy Schirm who owns this 40 Mercury. I think that was at the Detroit Autorama a couple of years ago. I first saw the car at the 2016 Vintage Torque Fest, then again at the 2017 Custom Car Revival. Jeremy was one of the first ones to answer the call when I asked for folks in each state to be a part of this project.
The car had been put away for the season when I got ahold of Jeremy to tell him that I was about a week away from showing up to shoot some photos. Not a huge deal, just about 160 miles more driving to get to the spot where the car was. Like me a couple of times on this trip he had a newly developed engine tick in his fairly new engine so we shot the car right next to the garage that it was stored in. One of my ticks turned into the saga you saw on this site a few days ago, the other has just been an exhaust leak that a new gasket fixed.
Since Jeremy is a paint and body man by trade the paint on this car is intricate and well done, not a ton of body mods were done but then again, they aren’t really all that needed on the 40 Mercury, it was a great looking car from the beginning.
My Nebraska car belongs to John MacKichan and was built specifically to attend the Hot Rod Hill Climb. I got to ride in this car and it’s pretty impressive for a B Motor, especially when loaded with 4 people and going up a mountain!
This 1930 Ford Model A Roadster was originally built as a hot rod in 1954 in Ashland, NE. In 1958 the original builder sold the car to Frank Schaffer who drove the roadster every day year round until 1973. That’s 15 Nebraska summers and winter… my hat is off to Mr. Schaffer! After 73 the car was put into storage, sometimes inside a barn, for a few years outside under a cover until MacKichan purchased the car and put it back into a barn for a few years. In November of 2013 when MacKichan hauled it out with a tractor and started to work on it to get ready for the 2014 Hot Rod Hill Climb. That work lasted from Dec. to July and the car made it to the Hill Climb.
MacKichan has a long history in performance vehicles including projects for Indy, Pikes Peak, and especially Bonneville. He designed, engineered, and fabricated much of the MacKichan/Schulz Bonneville Streamliner. The streamliner was retired after 22 years of racing with a final record run in 2010 at 323.3 MPH in the D/FS Class. The fastest overall record for the streamliner was 328.9 MPH in the C/BGS Class in 2000 along with the fastest exit speed of 346 MPH.
Some facts about the roadster, more in the book!
Built with a Model B 4-banger and cross-flow
Cragar head. John built a Halibrand quick-change rear end and added a T-5 transmission.
The tail end of the 1st half of the trip was a stop in KCMO at the club hangout of the Los Punk Rods club. The trip started with a stop at their Greaserama show on Sept. 2nd and it was a great bookend to the western part of the country to come back to KC and shoot photos of Dave Sprinkle’s Econoline.
Technically Dave now lives in Kansas but the truck stays at the club shop which is in Missouri… by about 40 feet, it’s literally right next to the state line, but that counts! It was built in Missouri and it was shot in Missouri!
I’ll have more info on the truck in the book when it comes out, enjoy the photos!
After leaving Owens Salvage in Wellington, TX I headed east to OK. A brief stop for dinner with some friends in OKC and then it was time to get over to the Tulsa area for my OK stop the next day. My friends at Hot Rod Garage, Inc. in Sand Springs, OK recently completed this beauty for Tim Wilson, a long time friend of HRG co-owner Jason Smith.
Jason also has a sweet 63 Falcon that’s set up for AutoCross and for running road courses like the nearby Hallet raceway. His plan for the weekend was to take the 32 down to Fort Worth to the Goodguys show and also to take the Falcon for some autocross time. Since the rear tires on the Falcon were almost bald and he had some new ones to mount up… why not finish off the old ones in style?
After shooting in Las Lunas, NM I hopped in the Galaxie and headed east on I-40 towards Texas! My next stop was at Owens Salvage in Wellington, TX to see Bob Owens (FlatTopBob). If you look back here on the site you can see my previous visit to Owens Salvage and hear my podcast with Bob here. Bob’s Buick is one of my favorites. Something so good about this car, plus with the setting of the Owen’s shop/house it just turned out awesome.
After my shoot in AZ I headed east on US60, it’s a route that I’d taken a few times when I was in school there 17 years ago. I knew the road was a scenic one and just had a couple of manageable inclines plus a great drive down and back up the other side of the Salt River Canyon.
It wasn’t the quickest route and I was on a time table, trying to beat the sunset to Los Lunas, NM. Once I got to Quemodo, NM I was on road that was new to me. The scenery was great, the road was pretty good too. Unlike going through Colorado the road was more between the mountains rather than through the more tightly packed Colorado Rockies. When I crossed the Continental Divide for the last time it was more of a big hill than the mountains on either side.
Following the slight detour and the crazy run down from Salt Lake City to Vegas I had to skip some planned sight seeing at the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon because it was night and I needed to make up some miles. My next stop was in my old stomping grounds in the Phoenix area. Back in 2000 I was living in the area as I went to school at the Conservatory for Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe.
Early Tuesday morning I got up and added some more oil to the engine and finished the last 100 miles in to the Phoenix area and made my way over to Gilbert, AZ. It was great to be in town again, if even for just a quick drive through. I met up with my AZ car owner Tom Mikla at his home and we hopped in his car and went looking for a location. Time was tight and I still needed to get to NM by evening so I could have a chance of getting back on schedule so we found a spot and started shooting.
I’ll give more details about the car in the book but wow this thing is stout thanks to the engine from Tom’s NASCAR days being under the hood.
As you read yesterday, this stop was a bit delayed! This stop was supposed to be Saturday afternoon and instead it was late Monday evening.
This car is a great example of pure and simple hot rodding. Nothing extra that’s not needed, just strip parts away and put a more powerful engine in, I don’t know what more needs to be said. I like it, I want one for myself.
The timing wasn’t ideal, but I have to say a huge thanks to Derek Campbell for being willing to let me shoot his car 2 days behind schedule and at night. I really like these images, they are different from anything else I’d shot to date. I didn’t get to experience any of Vegas this trip but I will be back.
Sometimes in life, your plans don’t exactly go as you wanted…
So let’s pick the story up from the photo shoot in California. After shooting Brian’s roadster I went and got a hotel room and started looking for a shop to take a look at the engine to figure out the miss that I had. I tried pulling the plug wires one at a time while the car was running, sure enough when you pulled the #6 wire from the distributor, the engine didn’t change at all. When pulling all of the others the engine got worse, so that means the problem was with #6. So I tried pulling the wire from the spark plug, nope the problem was not with the wire. Okay, maybe it’s the plug? Nope the plug was fine.
From Salem, OR down to Penryn, CA is a pretty straight forward drive. It rained on me most of the way down to the Medford area where I stayed for the night. Just hop on the I-5 and haul butt south! The west was certainly beautiful and I wish I could have stayed longer and spent some time on the coast but that wasn’t in the cards.
When I first started planning out this trip my friend TJ Wilson had just moved from Texas to Oregon. At that time he was in the eastern half of the state. Someone said that I HAD to go to the Columbia River Gorge and was bummed to see that my route wouldn’t take me there. But now TJ and family live in Salem, OR and I completely forgot about the suggestion to check out the Gorge until I crested a hill and started to descend into it.
After the monster drive from Salt Lake City up to the Post Falls, ID/Spokane area I was glad to have a short drive over to Spokane of about 15 minutes. My Washington car belongs to John Gunsaulis of Hop Up Magazine. I first saw this sweet right hand drive, banger powered Phaethon at the Hot Rod Hill Climb in 2015 and was immediately drawn to it’s simplicity and cool factor.
After a long drive from Colorado to Utah I woke up early for another long drive up to Post Falls, Idaho. Russ Freund’s Takeout T was my subject for Idaho, a car I’d last seen in person in 2011 at the Starbird show in Tulsa, OK. The car is still as beautiful today as it was then.
My first trip to the Hot Rod Hill Climb a few years ago I saw this beautiful 36 Ford. I was floored that such a beautiful kustom was being thrashed up the mountain! Fast forward to year’s HRHC and I see that Kipp Winward drove it over the OMG Road on the dirt and according to his Throttlers Car Club fellow members, he was sideways around every corner.
The Colorado vehicle for the 48 Cars 48 States trip is the Odd Rod, well technically it’s the recreation of the Odd Rod! My buddy Mike Nicholas (of Nick’s Hot Rod Garage, Hot Rod Hill Climb, and Hot Rod Dirt Drags) was asked by Duane Helms to help bring together Duane’s dream of recreating the Odd Rod a couple of years ago. What you see here is that recreation.
I first saw John & Chelle Binger’s car at the 2016 Hot Rod Hill Climb, then again at the 2017 Hot Rod Dirt Drags and last week at the 2017 Hot Rod Hill Climb. It’s a great, simple hot rod that has style and is fun to drive around in! I drove down from the Billings, MT area to Cheyenne through some beautiful countryside, the Big Horn Mountains and the high plains of Wyoming. I got to Cheyenne just about the time a small rain storm came through so we went over to the Binger’s shop and checked out some of what was there.
After leaving Bismarck, ND I headed straight west on I-94 to Montana. The first couple of hours looked a lot like western KS, big rolling hills and lots of pasture. Then I came across the most beautiful part of the entire trip so far, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, right at Medora, ND. This is well worth the time if you can stop, I couldn’t as I was racing the sun, so I got to enjoy the beauty at 75 mph as I drove through. Shortly after crossing the border the smoke from the forest fires out west got bad again. I continued the next 3 hours of driving with about 3 miles of visibility, it was actually kind of stressful after a bit. I’m from KS, used to being able to see the horizon, so the close quarters of the smoke really wore me out as I drove.
Tom Huber’s 40 Chevy Convertible is my car for North Dakota. After shooting with the Van Pelt’s in SD Tim & Thom lead me on a short tour through the Black Hills and took me up by Mount Rushmore. I didn’t have time to go in and do all the stuff that I wanted to do but it was still good to get to check it out.
The Galaxie is running great but still doesn’t like city driving. The short stint through Rapid City and then the long climb up to Mount Rushmore combined with a stop along the way meant she got really warm again. Lucky for me we stopped right passed the top and parked for a bit, giving the car a chance to cool back down.
This week Royboy recaps week 2 of the 48 Cars 48 States trip. With interviews with Mike Behrendt of Wichita, Thom and Tim Van Pelt of Piedmont, SD, Tom Huber of Bismarck, ND and Ryan Mead of Laurel, MT.
Well, that didn’t go quite as planned, but I made it to South Dakota late Sunday night. I left the Starliner show and headed north, my route took me within 12 miles of my own home so I stopped again and used my wifi and slept in my own bed, planning to take off at 5:30 am to arrive in Rapid City, SD by 2:30 pm Mountain time. First, I awoke to the shrill alarm at 5am and quickly decided that 6:30 would be a better starting time… then it was 7:30… by 8am I was finally rolling out of Gypsum, KS.
I headed up U.S. 81, since my route took me through Concordia, KS I stopped in to see my friend Dalton for a little bit. As I left Concordia the car died on me, weird. I started it back up and kept going, figuring it was nothing. I made it about 30 miles north and saw a big thunderstorm sitting on top of US 81 a couple of miles ahead. A quick decision took me west on US 36. 30 or so miles later I drove through the small town of Mankato, KS, the home of City Limits Hot Rods owned by my friend PJ Garst. I figured it was Sunday morning and I’d already stopped once, I better keep rolling down the road instead of calling him to say hi.
Picking up where yesterday’s post left off, I was at home Wednesday night so I took advantage of the opportunity to do some laundry and use my own fast wifi. Thursday morning I got a ride back over to pick up the Galaxie, packed my stuff back in my car and headed for Wichita. I knew that I needed to fix the exhaust leak on the passenger side so I called up Rocky Burris and headed to his place figuring that it would be easier to get a set of gaskets for a Ford FE in Wichita than in Salina. Plus if I had to order them in at least I’d be in Wichita with everyone for the Starliner weekend instead of sitting in my house twiddling my thumbs.