US Road Trip Epilog: 4th June 2005

The problem with most modern American cars is that, basically, they're as boring as hell. Most look like a blancmange that's been left in the sun for too long. And the 'imports' (though they may actually be built in the US) aren't any better - the Toyotas and Hondas and Hyundais are just as dull and anonymous as all the rest. What the hell happened to the country that produced some of the most exciting and beautiful cars ever produced? And you don't want to know what I think about the pastiche efforts of the PT Cruiser, Prowler, Thunderbird and even Mustang. Even if the latter is maybe a bit tasty.

What brought that on? 3½ hours on the I-55 will do that to you. In the UK I try to relieve the tedium on long journeys by trying to identify cars as they appear in the rear-view mirror. This game cannot be played in the US. Well, not by me anyway.

I'm returning to Gateway Classic Cars to collect the title, registration and licence plates for the car (I'd done the whole of the previous road trip on temporary papers). Three things make this journey a bit nerve-wracking:

As it was, the car ran absolutely fine. Obviously I wasn't going to nail the gas pedal to the floor and go racing, but cruising along at 70 MPH reminded just what a class act the Riviera is. It was also pretty hot - I dare not use the aircon with a dubious cooling system - and as boring as hell. I remember now why I avoided the Interstates as much as possible on the previous road trip.

At Gateway Classic Cars (where, if you remember, I bought the car) I collect the title and registration and bolt on the new licence plates. It's nice to finally have all the paperwork. I also have have an interesting chat with Sal, who runs the place, about the options available to me should the car survive the road trip. In brief, if I choose to deal with Gateway again, these are:

  1. Get them to sell the car for me.

  2. Get them to ship the car back to the UK for me.

  3. Part-exchange the Riviera against a smaller 60's classic, such as an early straight-six notchback Mustang, and ship that back to the UK.

  4. Part-exchange the Riviera against a European car, such as a 70's Porsche 911 or Fiat 124 Spyder, and ship that back to the UK.

Well, it's a nice problem to have should the occasion arise. I added some transmission fluid before leaving Gateway but, oddly, the coolant leaks seem to have stopped. Hmmm.

On the way back into Springfield the Riviera is lass than happy in traffic, threatening to stall if left waiting at the lights in Drive. I would normally put the transmission into Neutral to let the revs recover, but daren't do so now in case I go back to Drive and find nothing there (as when I collected the car). This leads to a lot of slow approaches to red lights and a bit of creeping forward if they stay red too long. I can only apologise to the other traffic on the road.

In Springfield I think I'll try my luck at my favourite motel, the 60's-restored Quality Inn State House. I'm in luck, not only for that night but I also get the last remaining vacancy for the following night. I know why Springfield will be so busy on a Sunday. You, however, will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

Sojourner Truth Music Festival
Sojourner Truth Music Festival. I told you they were playing on a flat-bed.

Back in town I wander over to the music, which is on again tonight, but it really isn't my kind of thing so decide to give it a miss. Listening to the band murder a Ramones track doesn't help, and I think the staff still outnumber the punters. I remember the announcer calling it the 'First Annual Sojourner Truth Music Festival' last night. Unless they get their act together - for instance, grouping similar-style bands together on the bill and promoting the fact - I fear it may also be the last.

Train & State Capitol
Train & State Capitol

On the previous road trip I mentioned a few times that in the US trains aren't hidden in cuts as they are (by and large) in the UK. Even the Illinois State Capitol isn't exempt from that lonesome whistle whine.

US Road Trip Epilog: 5th June 2005 >