I know that CC has already run a few articles on Route 66 , most notably here and here. By pure coincidence, I had my own Route 66 pilgrimage planned in late April 2013, albeit a bit further west, so I hope you’ll forgive me for returning to this subject.
“Take it Easy” is by no means one of my favorite songs, nor the Eagles a favorite band (well, they get some credit for taking in the great Joe Walsh). There’s no denying, however, the compelling sense of time and place in the famous lyric:
Winslow is a wide spot in what used to be US Route 66, about 60 miles east of Flagstaff, and debris-raining distance from the world-famous Barringer Meteor Crater. Good thing that event happened 50,000 years ago and not last month. I-40 jogs around Winslow on the north side; Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s transcontinental rail line forms a Chinese wall to the south. There’s an unexpectedly posh hotel (La Posada, reborn from the Santa Fe’s old Harvey House), a bunch of gas stations, about two blocks of downtown and eight more of residential area, and that’s about it. Mostly, it’s a working-class place, where the endless freight trains change crews and where area ranchers go when they head to town for supplies.
There’s a shrine to the Eagles song at the corner of West 2nd and Kinsley downtown, but that wasn’t my main reason for going. What I did have in mind was that the moderate, high desert climate might have helped preserve some interesting old cars and trucks. The photos following show some of what I stumbled across during a morning’s wander. See what you think.
At the Eagles shrine downtown, someone has been generous enough to pose this nicely restored ’60 Ford for the tourists. OK, so actually it’s a stake bed; whatever.
On the other hand, this late-40’s machine (International K-7, maybe?) seems to have shed a few key parts on its way to back-lot oblivion. Really shows off that clear Arizona light, though.
Found on a back street was this toothless but otherwise complete ’51 Ford, looking fresh off the set of Thunder Road and ready to haul a load of moonshine. Love the Baby Moons.
A flash of chrome glimpsed in a vacant lot downtown turned out to be a ’54 Kaiser Manhattan; engineless, judging from the unloaded front wheels. There was a ‘For Sale’ sign on the lot; wonder if the car goes with it?
Likewise somewhat less than road-ready was this ’55 Ford, sitting forlornly in the dust on the far west end of town. Apparently it’s been pressed into service as advertising for a used auto parts business, kind of the Wal-Mart greeter of the automotive world.
My personal favorite find of the day was a ’57 International A-series 4 x 4. It’s surely been a couple decades since I last saw one of these on the road. I know there has been some discussion here concerning whether one of these was the inspiration for Mater from the movie Cars, but I’m pretty sure the character was based on a ‘57 or ‘58 Chevy. These really do have a face, though.
I suspect all desert southwest towns are required to have an old air-cooled VW bus stashed away somewhere. Amazingly, the early bay-window model shown here still appears to be earning a living, delivering clean clothes to the local population.
Here’s a Volvo 142, in good nick, found sitting right on 66 in the middle of town. Makes me weepy and nostalgic for a similar car my younger brother had once.
Jim Grey, in his Route 66 post, found a nice ’60s Ford pickup during his travels; here’s another one. This ’69 Ranger, spotted just around the corner from the ’51 Ford sedan shown earlier, seems just about right. Good enough overall shape for the Saturday night dance, but not so pristine that you’d be afraid to haul anything in it. Great color, too.
Looking at this ’73 Olds 98, two things come to mind. 1) It’s amazing we didn’t just run out of steel sometime during that decade; 2) I should have taken a closer look at that RV in the driveway. That’s a funky machine in its own right.
Not exactly a thing of beauty (IMO) when new, by now this ’74 Thunderbird looks like it could star in an American remake of Mad Max. Hey, matches the color scheme on the sign, though.
If the Eagles don’t happen to do it for you, how about a chorus of Volare instead? Whoa-oh-oh-oh. Dang, those things even rust out in the desert.
Last, and maybe least, is a solid first-gen Chevy Cavalier wagon spotted down by the tracks. Guess it hit something at a little in excess of five mph at some point; otherwise not too bad cosmetically.
Have to say that for an aficionado of old cars (or trains for that matter; the BNSF freights run like streetcars here) you could certainly do worse than a quick stopover in Winslow. Oh, and if you do go, consider having lunch at La Posada. I don’t think you’d regret it.