Hi folks. I just got back from a long trip in the southwest in the '67 convertible with another retired friend of mine. We were talking about doing Route 66 25 years ago and now we had the time. The goal was to drive from Fresno to Cortez Colorado, using 66 and byways and visiting parks and friends along the way.
I did this trip in this car in 1993 right after I painted it, but haven't done it since. Funny how 30 years changes things.
The car is a stock, de-tuned '67 GTO with 87cc small valve #15 heads. Original carb. Original points distributor. Rebuilt in 1988 at 173,000 miles. TH400 and 2.56 Safe-T-Track. PS, PB, your basic garden-variety GTO.
Day one was Fresno to Kingman AZ via Oatman AZ. About 470 miles.
Day two was Kingman AZ to Phoenix AZ, about 200 miles.
Day three took us from Phoenix to Holbrook AZ, via Montezumas Castle, Payson, Show Low, the Painted Desert, and the Petrified Forest. About 300 miles in all.
Day four---added 1/4 quart of oil. No obvious leaks. Holbrook AZ to Cortez, CO, via Canyon de Chelly, Four Corners, Ship Rock, and New Mexico. Heavy rain from de Chelly to Cortez. Thunder and lightning as well. No top leaks!!!
Day five---Cortez to Mesa Verde National park. Long day. Treated like celebrities at every look out. Many retired RV'ers had a GTO new. Everybody loved seeing the car being used as a car. Getting back to the motel, I heard a slight squeaking coming from the left rear. Uh-oh. I jacked up the car and yep, the rear wheel bearing was loose. CRAP. Sunday evening, parts stores closed.
Day six---show up at NAPA at 730 AM and talk to Jordan, the third generation owner and a musclecar buff and hot-rodder and 4x4 guy. He could get the bearing in 24 hours. I had him order two. Spent the day in museums, pawn shops, hanging out with the locals, and looking at the wonderful scenery and eating great food. Jordan called a good friend who owns a diesel repair and fabrication shop and lined us up for getting the bearings pressed and installed. Great News!
Prayed that night that the axles were not trashed. If they were, I would be renting a truck and a trailer for the 900 mile trip home.
Day seven---went to NAPA at 7:45 and got the bearings as they were being checked into inventory. Headed to Diesel Performance where Clint took care of us.
A kid (to me) got right on it and had the axles out in no time. The driver's side was starting to spin the race and the passenger side was starting to fail as well, but had not spun. The passenger side had been peened once before to lock the bearing. News to me, as I have run this diff for 15 years or so but never did the axle bearings. The mechanic dimpled both sides and pressed the new bearings and retainers on and was totally confident they would hold because of the interference he had on the press. I tipped him, thanked him, thanked Clint, paid my bill, and hit the road.
Day eight---Cortez to Kingman AZ--420 miles. No issues. Heavy rain and thunderstorms most of the way.
Day nine--added another 1/4 quart of oil. I like it up to the full line on long hard runs. Kingman to Fresno. 442 miles. Hot, in the 90's. A sticky afternoon. Home by 330 pm.
Summary---2,715 miles total. Used 1/2 quart of oil total. (engine was rebuilt by me in 1988 and has about 85,000 miles on it since then. Re-sealed by me 12 years ago with a BOP rear main. No leaks) When I did this trip in '93 I must have used 3 quarts of oil because of the leaking rear main.
Two rear axle bearings. Total cost parts and labor about $350. Got very, very lucky axles were usable. Will source new axles for the future.
Car averaged 20.6 mpg for the entire trip. Had zero running issues even at 8400 feet elevation. The car loved running on real gas again.
Made zero carb or timing adjustments. Zip. Never even got out a tool. (except the jack!)
Everywhere we went we were mobbed like rock stars. Young, old, man, woman----it did not matter. Several people said that seeing the car 'made their day', two of them being park rangers and ag inspectors. Everybody had a 'goat' story. Or so it seemed.
My friend was so impressed with the comfort and economy and practicality of the GTO that he is now actively looking for one. A '68--'70 is his preference.
All in all, a very nice trip. And amazingly, no LS swap, Global West swap, Pertronix, Sniper, or anything else needed. And no problem with the drum brakes, either. Road trips are so much more fun in a classic GTO!!!