Route 66 Trip Win­ners

Classic Driver - - NEWS -

In Au­gust, Pam Dench and part­ner Dean Cur­rie are head­ing off to get their kicks, as win­ners of the Coast FM/ Clas­sic Driver Route 66 com­pe­ti­tion

Some­times, you won­der if prizewin­ners re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate what it is they have won. When SW Me­dia Gen­eral Man­ager Wes Davies and I went to Pam’s Christchurch home to hand over her win­nings, a place for two people on the Clas­sic Driver Route 66 tour, one look up the drive­way was enough to tell us that we couldn’t have had a more ap­pro­pri­ate win­ner if the re­sult had been rigged (al­though if that were the case, I would have won it!). A 1960 Cadil­lac and a 1968 Thunderbird aren’t your usual sight in a sub­ur­ban street, but that was only the be­gin­ning as we were in­vited into the man- cave for a drink and the of­fi­cial han­dover.

Ex­cept man-cave doesn’t re­ally de­scribe what Dean has on the side of his garage. If there were to be a bar like this in town, I would never go any­where else! We all want some­where to dis­play our shiny things and all the other bits that seem to be as­so­ci­ated with own­ing old cars and Dean cer­tainly has done that. He’s just lucky that when he woke up the next morn­ing, I hadn’t taken up res­i­dence in there.

For a cou­ple who be­gan their mo­tor­ing lives in a Mini (Pam) and a Hill­man Su­per Minx (Dean), a fleet of six Amer­i­can cars, from a 1934 Ford V8 to a 1969 Chevro­let Chev­elle, set up for drag rac­ing, they must have seen the er­ror of their ways fairly quickly. When it comes to their clas­sic fleet, it is the 1960 Cadil­lac, a slightly faded and to­tally orig­i­nal pale green be­he­moth, which cur­rently sees the most use and while both Pam and Dean said their favourite was what­ever car they hap­pened to be driv­ing at the time, Pam let it slip that the big Caddy re­ally was her pick, and that was the first car they had brought in from the US. Dean had al­ways wanted a Cadil­lac, and the big­ger, the bet­ter!

A prob­lem many of us suf­fer from is a lack of garage space, es­pe­cially when try­ing to re­store a car as well as keep the rest of the fleet run­ning. In this case, the of­fender is a 1957 Chevro­let Bel-Air sta­tion wagon. When I went to see them, the car had just come back from the painters and was be­ing pre­pared to have the in­te­rior re­fit­ted. An­other US im­port, it was an ex­am­ple of how care­ful you need to be when bring­ing a car in. Hav­ing been through the process be­fore, Dean took care­ful care to en­sure the car was rust free and it cer­tainly was. Ex­cept that the floors had been re­placed with flat steel. Cer­tainly there was no rust, but it still needed a new floor-pan. Al­though their back­ground is in hotrods and they have owned the 1936 Ford V8 rod in the mid­dle of the shed since 1996, the Bel-Air is be­ing kept stan­dard, with its orig­i­nal 283ci Power-Pack en­gine, the only de­vi­a­tion from orig­i­nal spec be­ing a set of Cra­gar wheels and pos­si­bly a smaller steer­ing wheel.

It is al­ways dan­ger­ous to ask what the next project is go­ing to be… Pam thinks it is a re­furb. of the pe­riod car­a­van which goes to events on the rear of the Caddy. Dean was think­ing of the panel re­pair to the right rear of the Chev­elle re­quired to get the re­cent im­port through the com­pli­ance process and on the road. Then the ’69 Pon­tiac Bon­neville con­vert­ible, which hasn’t been out for a cou­ple of years needs some mi­nor cos­metic work (my pick of the cars in the garage, what a bril­liant sum­mer cruiser that would be, with its 400ci V8 mak­ing easy work of pro­pel­ling what is a sub­stan­tial piece of metal) and there are the new wheels to go on the 36 V8 to give it more of a retro-rod look. Don’t for­get the 66 Thunderbird, an­other ar­rival from the US, a straight, rust free car which spent most of its life tucked away in a shed in Wash­ing­ton State. This is an un­usual beast, with the big 428ci en­gine, elec­tric ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing seats, which makes it a very col­lectible car. A vac­uum leak seems to be the rea­son for it’s rough idle and the brakes have suf­fered from a lack of use. Noth­ing ma­jor, but it all takes time. How­ever, all of this work is go­ing to take a bit of a back seat. The cars will be tucked away for a month or so and while we all freeze through win­ter, think of Pam and Dean as they cruise Route 66 in a Mus­tang. Jeal­ous? You bet!

Wes Davies, Clas­sic Driver Pub­lisher, hands over the prize to Pam & Dean

The favourite in the fleet, a 1960 Cadil­lac in barn-fresh con­di­tion

A cou­ple of fu­ture projects, a 66 T/bird and car­a­van, nei­ther need­ing too much at­ten­tion

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