Curbside Roadtrip: All Over the Midwest on the Blue Highways – Survivors, Pampered Classics, a Fire Truck and a Burned-Out Plymouth


My sons and I are on the road this week, driving as much of Route 66 as we can cram into our Spring Break. I’ve dreamed of making this trip since the 1980s, when Hot Rod magazine did a feature from the road. The last part of the famous route had just been decommissioned, so they drove the route end-to-end in a vintage Corvette.

I wrote this post before we left on the trip; if all goes well, we’ll return home today. I expect we will have found some curbside classics, which I’ll share in upcoming posts, while driving the Mother Road. To whet your appetite, here are some of the cars I’ve found on my other road trips, including this 1962 Mercury Meteor sedan I found in Seymour, Indiana while exploring U.S. 50.


You never know what you’re going to come across when you’re on the road–I especially love to come across an abandoned road or bridge. It’s an esoteric hobby, to be sure. In eastern Illinois, there’s a long-abandoned, brick-paved stretch of U.S. 40 that’s been abandoned for more than a half-century. That’s where I found this rusted, presumably burned-out shell of a mid-1980s Plymouth Caravelle. Or maybe it’s a Dodge 600; it’s impossible to tell.


I came upon this 1956 Dodge sedan and what looks like 1973 Dodge Dart a bit farther along the abandoned brick U.S. 40 alignment. From Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois, U.S. 40 mostly follows the path of the old National Road; the first federally-funded highway, Thomas Jefferson authorized its construction in 1806.


In case you didn’t soak in enough Darty goodness from the previous photo, here’s a 1972 Dart Custom. It was parked in front of a laundry in a small Illinois town–I forget which one–on U.S. 40.


This 1975 Mercury Marquis was for sale in New Carlisle, Indiana, along U.S. 20. Before the road became U.S. 20, it was the Lincoln Highway; before that, it was known as the Michigan Road.


Curse Chevrolet for barely changing the fifth-gen El Camino after 1982! Your guess is as good as mine as to what year this one was made. I found it in Orleans, Indiana, on State Road 37, once part of the Dixie Highway network of highways that connected several northern states to Miami, Florida in order to encourage tourism.


I especially enjoy finding survivors, like that El Camino and this 1973 Plymouth Satellite Custom wagon, which was parked behind a theater on U.S. 127 in Crossville, Tennessee.


I can’t tell if this Corvair is a survivor or a non-moving hulk, but it was good to find it on the old Michigan Road in Shelbyville, Indiana. I’m guessing it’s a ’66.


Preferring survivors doesn’t mean I dislike finding a restored and babied classic like this 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport. It was parked in front of a pub on U.S. 40, in Jacksontown, Ohio.


This 1947 Ford coupe came out for the day in Shoals, Indiana, which is on U.S. 50. Don’t those modern wheels and tires look strange on it?


Another cool find was this 1978 Ford F-700 fire truck on Old U.S. 31, in Mexico, Indiana. This was shot several years ago, when it was for sale for $5,000.


I followed this Model A for several miles along U.S. 421 in southern Indiana. It had no trouble cruising at 60 MPH!