Long Trips in a Classic Truck
Driving thousands of miles in all weather conditions taught me a few things about old cars. First and foremost, I learned that it’s absolutely possible to drive a classic vehicle wherever you want.
I also learned that owning a decent socket set is paramount.
For the most part, my basic drivetrain proved reliable. Why wouldn’t it? The truck had a well-maintained 350 and a Saginaw-Muncie four-speed; not a whole lot of parts to break. A Holley 650 topped it off, and she ran like a dream.
As far as comfort is concerned, I figure it can’t get much better than floaty 2WD suspension and a plush foam bench seat. However, a lack of air conditioning made summertime in Nevada a bit… irritating.
Oh, and another thing. If you know anything about Wyoming, you know that it gets damn cold in the winter. Take cold, subtract 20 degrees, add some wind, and you have Wyoming. At such temperatures, it takes more than a piece of cardboard over the radiator to heat that truck up.
And yes, I put a different thermostat in it too. In my squarebody, expecting the heater to work at 0 degrees (or colder) was wishful thinking. Gloves came in handy. That said, it was perfectly tolerable for me and fun enough to deal with.
Many people ask about the gas mileage of my ‘79 Chevy. And it took me a good year to get an accurate number. At 70 miles per hour with 3.08 rear gears, I could run a little less than 300 miles before switching to the other tank.
Assuming I left a gallon or so at the bottom, that rounds out to about 15-16 miles per gallon. The best I ever got at highway speeds was 18MPG.
Again, I honestly believe that it’s possible to drive a classic car halfway across the country. Other than a few mechanical hiccups here and there (due to cheap replacement parts), the truck never left me stranded.
The 350 was reliable enough for decades of use on American roads, and there’s no reason to assume it won’t be today.