The Great Beater Challenge 2018: Day 2, Part 2

In the last segment we left off with a starter that was reluctant to start. If I had bought the locally made fish bonker from Day 1 this would have been the ideal time to use it but instead I had to make do with a regular hammer. Luckily a few quick taps bought the starter back to life and we were able to continue the journey with some fairly serious downhill sections to come.

In the first installment I neglected to post the map for the day so I will do so now. We drive from Radium north through Golden then west into Banff National Park before detouring onto the smaller 1A highway. From there it is due south avoiding the big city of Calgary but instead traveling through Black Diamond. Certainly not the fastest route but more scenic. The Great Beater Challenge is not a race but more about the journey after all.

After the starter came back to life we were able to leave Golden. The next bit of driving was the most challenging in terms of elevation gain, corners and an extended downhill section.

The road has some elevation to it both up and then down. This is where the brakes needed to perform.

The payoff is that the scenery is fantastic. Luckily we drove a sensible speed and had no more issues with the brakes or cooling.

The highway cuts through a bits of a hills at various points.


A short video of the road behind.


Unlike the K-car in the first Beater Challenge with the Laurentian we were able to drive the speed limit. This did not prevent a huge line forming behind us however. We got a mix of admiring and disgusted looks as traffic was able to pass us. More disgusted than admiring if I have to be honest although we were blowing a little smoke behind us on the hills.

As we headed towards Alberta the smoke in the sky cleared considerably. The smoke from the Pontiac’s tailpipe stayed.

We did get patches of rain along the way.

As we approached the town of Banff we saw an almost smoke free sky for the first time in a couple weeks.

The road was now two lanes on either side allowing for faster traffic to efficiently pass us. The dirty looks diminished but did not disappear completely. We did however get a few thumbs up for some more enlightened travelers.

By the fuel stop in Canmore, Alberta the RV group had caught up to us.

Three Sisters Mountain.

After exiting the mountains we diverted onto the older 1A highway for a more scenic and relaxed drive.

The last of the mountain scenery to the west.

Our Pontiac floated over the sometimes bumpy road.

In a rather impressive performance our antique Fuzzbuster II radar detector had successfully saved us from any tickets all without even being plugged in!

Ghost lake is a man made lake which is popular in winter for ice racing. We had lost one of the rear tail light bulbs somewhere along the journey.

For those that doubted our shower curtain headliner would hold up I present you this photo of it still up and present. We did have to adjust it a couple times but it worked quite well especially given the (lack of) cost.

As we hit Cochrane we switched from heading east to south.

We past through the historic towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond which experienced an early oil and gas boom from 1914 to 1947. The Laurentian’s bench seats was causing all of us sore backs and behinds but we could not afford any extra stops as the day was too rapidly coming to a close. The consensus was that the rear seat behind the driver was the best of the pretty marginal lot.

A poor photo but in the distance is “Big Rock” otherwise known as the Okotoks Erratic. It is a huge 16,500-tonne (18,200-ton) bolder that sits in the middle of ultra flat prairie farm land. Apparently I have neglected to ever bring my boys by to visit this rock but they were too tired to go for an exploration outside the car. Another day perhaps. Locally famous brewery Big Rock is named after this bolder.

The reminder of the day mostly involved a bomb down Highway 2 which is the main north/south artery roadway in Alberta. A fellow competitor in a Chevette passed us as I envied their overdrive fifth gear.

One of the last stops was at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton. It is most famous for the massive Lancaster bomber inside but given the time of day it was unfortunately closed but they still had a few airplanes outside on display.

Here we were joined by various other teams.

The minivan team had been pulled over by the police shortly before this stop. The cop was rather puzzled by the fact that they were all dressed in bathroom robes.

Despite our best efforts to hurry we were losing the last of daylight.

One of the scavenger hunt items was to drive around this highway roundabout three times. Given the lack of seat belts, bench seats and generous body roll it was interesting.

As we entered Lethbridge the engine starting making a light knocking noise before increasing in volume. I decided to take it home rather than to the official finish line (and BBQ that we had likely missed). At this point the engine stalled and the starter would not engage even given more hammer persuasion. The Mercedes team helped us bump start in. I after never stalling all trip long promptly stalled it at the next traffic light on the highway and we had to bump start it again. There was now a good amount of smoke to go with the noise. The Pontiac made it home … just. I have not yet dug into the engine to find out what happened as to be frank I am a little sick of working on the car for now. I suspect it is in the top end of the engine probably valve train related. Despite a little bit of sourness at the end it was amazing journey for a car that had been left to languish for almost four decades. Looking back I should have skipped the complexity of the disc brake conversion.

Amazingly only the Triumph TR7 failed to finish although we were pretty darn close as well. We also heard that the rusty Camaro had transmission issues which forced had them to drive the second day non-stop. As a result they arrived well before anyone else despite a truly terrible vehicle. The overall standings and awards are as follows (copied from the Great Beater Challenge Facebook page with vehicle information added for clarity). Unfortunately we missed the wrap up BBQ due to end of trip engine issues.


1. Miles away from Ordinary- 3340pts – 1969 Perris Cruiser
2. Return of the Swede- 3316pts – 1987 Saab 900
3. Rusty Creamsicle- 2875pts – 1975 GMC Sierra 1500
4. The Eh Team- 2780pts – 1975 Chevy Scamper
5. Pacemaker- 2680pts – 1978 AMC Pacer
6. The Dipolamats- 2500pts – 1979 GMC Diplomat
7. The Chevfoles- 2470pts – 1968 Chevy C10
8. Milk’s gone bad- 2350pts – 1967 Fargo 100
9. Christmas Miracle- 2310pts – 1978 Ford F-250
10. Special Delivery- 2270pts – 1965 Chevy Panel
11. Over the Hill- 2245pts – 1956 Hillman Minx Super Deluxe
12. Natural Disaster- 2210pts – 1975 Chevy K10
13. Sh***er’s Full!- 2143pts – 1990 Plymouth Voyager
14. Big Bang Theory- 2120pts – 1978 Mercury Bobcat
15. Initial Disaster- 2053pts – 1988 Honda Accord
16. Radio Flyer Bobcat Rescue Team- 2010pts – 1986 Toyota 4Runner
17. Shake, Rattle, and Run!- 1990pts – 2001 Pontiac Sunfire
18. Piper’s Pit- 1915pts – 1998 Ford Escort ZX2
19. Canadian Classic- 1904pts – 1961 Pontiac Laurentian
20. Land Lover’s Party Barge- 1865pts – 1974 Dodge Power Wagon
21. Hillbilly Deluxe- 1860pts – 1982 GMC Sierra 1500
22. Benz but doesn’t break- 1840pts – 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190 2.6L
23. Rattle Trap Prospecting- 1810pts – 1973 Jord Cherokee
24. Poor Man’s Vette- 1793pts – 1986 Chevy Chevette Scooter
25. Double A Steering Wheel Holders- 1790pts – 2007 Volkswagen Jetta 2.5
26. Brökeswagën- 1720pts – 1986 Volkswagen Jetta
27. Ridin’ Dirty- 1634pts – 1995 Lincoln Town Car
28. The Rusty Bullet- 1625pts – 1998 Dodge Ram 1500
29. Weakest Linc- 1568pts – 1978 Lincoln Continental
30. The Daily- 1500pts – 2003 Honda Odyssey
31. Swede Speed- 1470pts – 1968 Volvo 142S
32. Jett-lagged- 1400pts – 2000 VW Jetta
33. Lone Ranger- 1375pts – 1987 Ford Ranger
34. Olde Faithful- 1310pts – 1995 Honda Civic
35. The General Ree- 1130pts – 1982 Toyota Tercel
36. Toxic- 1090pts – 1979 Chevy Camaro
37. Dolls with Balls- 841pts (DNF) – 1980 Triumph TR7
38. Pinto the Bean- 280pts? * – 1975 Ford Pinto Runabout
39. Duck’s Guts- 252pts – 1980 Ford Mustang
40. Hunting the Yeti- 180pts? * – 1998 Nissan Pathfinder

*= missing or incomplete data

The award winners are:

Overall Points- Miles away from Ordinary (trophy donated to the Toxic team)

Best under $500- Rusty Creamsicle

Best costumes and theme- Rattle Trap Prospecting

Marginally above average effort award- Over the Hill

Most Spectacular Failure- Dolls with Balls

Most comfortable- Weakest Linc

Least comfortable- Toxic

Unicorn award (Rarest Vehicle)- Miles away from Ordinary

Dutchman’s award (Lowest total spend)- The Eh Team

Best Roadside Repair- The Eh Team


So we managed a solid mid-pack finish for the third year in a row so we are consistent at least!  More importantly the boys and I had a blast once again. I am not sure what the future holds for the Pontiac quite yet but I have to say it was a fantastic cruising and road trip vehicle. There are many more photos available from other competitors in a Facebook gallery.


The whole Great Beater Challenge 2018 series

The Teams

Day 1 Part 1

Day 1 Part 2

Day 2 Part 1

Day 2 Part 2