Road Trip Classics: A Surreal Stop for Fuel


It was late afternoon and I was needing both fuel and a pitstop.  With fueling locations being so few and far between in most rural areas, I was quite happy to stumble upon this station.

Oddly, there was a flurry of activity going on when I arrived.


The fuel here is quite reasonably priced, which likely explains the load of customers.  At first, I thought it was due to the MegaMillions lottery having a $400 million jackpot that night and people aiming to boost (or create) their retirement plans.


Knowing I would have to wait my turn for the pump, I went to ask the the police officer about a good local place to eat should I happen to revisit this neck of the woods.  Many rural towns don’t have a lot of money to keep their police force in the latest model of police vehicle, but this one seemed older than most.


Despite its age, this ’53 Ford sure looked ready for action.  That old flathead is a delightfully quiet engine, which is a nice perk when you spend all day in a car.


The inside looked good, but the officer was a real dummy.  A lot of help he was.  Yet, no Barney Fife was he, as that pea-shooter was loaded.


Looking around, I began to wonder if I was in some sort of time warp.


This 1975 to 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis, one of the best vehicles to roll from any Ford Motor Company factory during the 1970s, had something about it that didn’t quite seem right.


That’s it; the owner’s license plates are expired.


I bet the dash even has a plaque that says “Ride Engineered.”  While looking at this Mercury, all I can say is “be still my heart!”  This is 7.5 liters of sheer driving bliss.  The color isn’t my top pick, and the fender skirts are the only demerit this car gets from me.  There were almost 146,000 Marquis of all flavors sold in 1978 alone; one was sold to some family in Texas (here).


Looking beyond the Mercury, I once again question where I am and what time period it is.  How long has it been since a three-digit phone number was used in the U.S.?  My lunch was pretty tame and it wasn’t indigestion; besides, beef isn’t known for having hallucinogenic qualities.  Something was still seriously amiss.


Despite the oddball phone number, this old Ford F-100 is looking pretty good and appears ready for its next service call.


It looks like this guy has been quite successful in the upkeep of the station’s service truck.  I applaud his diligent efforts.  But why do all these people keep coming across as being a bunch of dummies?  This is so bizarre.


Holy cats!  For such a small town, I never would have figured there to be a taxi service, but there definitely is.


I cannot remember the last time I saw a 1965 Ford Galaxie.  Ford built 564,000 of them that year, but they are pretty scarce these days.  With one still in taxi use, you know it’s getting exercised regularly.


With this taxi being painted in what looks to be factory two-tone colors, it isn’t your typical fleet car.  Somebody went uptown and got themselves a nice car for pulling taxi duty.  No point in being uncomfortable with a stripped down sedan, is there?


Walking to the other side of the pumps, I see this.  These people are a long way from home.


If one wanted to take a trip east from California, I can think of worse vehicles to take than this 1954 Ford.  The camper is pretty light, so one likely wouldn’t even notice it back there.  It would be interesting to know how its Fordomatic and first year overhead valve V8 performed going over the mountains.


Sadly, anybody who lets their kids stand in the backseat is a dummy.  It is no longer 1957.


While I had been gazing upon the ’54 Ford, this LTD had pulled in for fuel.  A little wax would do this car a world of good.


These used to be so common.  In 1978 alone, Ford built over 241,000 of these full-sizers; they were pretty much identical from 1975 through 1978.  While the LTD is quite nice, they just don’t have the raw charisma of its sister Mercury.

Suddenly, a Dodge minivan pulls up to me.  Rolling the window down, the driver asked if I liked Lyle’s life-sized diorama.  I told him I certainly did.  While we chatted, I told him I had seen this a few years ago, but the Grand Marquis and LTD were new editions.  He said there are likely more that will be added in the future.

From the sound of it, he undoubtedly knows far more about this than I do.  There was a Harley and a Mustang parked in the garage bays and there is still a lot of room on the lot.