September 1, 2007

Our Trip
The idea for a Modified Mustangs pilgrimage on the Mother Road originally came about after after the 2006 SEMA Show when driving a brand-X rental sled, we picked up a section of the road from Barstow to Victorville in California. The sun was setting and from the atmosphere driving along, one could almost imagine stepping through time

That's when it happened. We figured we should do the entire route, but with a couple of twists. Everybody seems to drive from East to West, so we figured we'd do the opposite, start in LA and drive to Chicago. Secondly, we needed a suitable vehicle to do it in - a Mustang of course, but something special. Thirdly, we needed to pick a date (April 28th was ultimately selected) and finally we wanted to throw together a couple of little shindigs along the way. Roush Performance was gracious enough to actually build us a car for the trip, an arrest-me-red 2007 427 R coupe and had it shipped to one of their dealers in SoCal. Tech Editor Don Roy and myself flew out to the West Coast, picked up the car and got set to embark upon our little adventure.

Kick Off Party
We decided to name our expedition the 'Route 66 In Reverse Tour' and kicked it off with a cruise-in at Galpin Auto Sports in North Hills, CA. The Galpin crew were gracious enough to clear out their front lot and set up a display in the work area with some of their latest offerings. A fully catered buffet was provided and Sales Manager Steve Carpenter gave us an exclusive tour of the facilities, including the amazing showroom where one of the most prolific collections of Ford and custom vehicles can be seen in one place, plus the Pimp My Ride set - the series is filmed on location at the GAS facilities. A number of folks made the trip out to our little gathering, like the crew from Turbonetics, including CEO Joe Hige, as well as Magnaflow's Tanya Jacquot and Borla's Chris Kauffman. A whole slew of the Stangpede drove their Ponies up from San Diego and everybody found time to look at each other's cars, grab a bite and share stories - some even went for test drives. As if to signify the start of our trip, MM gave away a whole slew of Route 66 in Reverse t-shirts, which the folks at Custom Ts in Maryland had worked like mad to get ready in time for the event. If you've never been to Galpin Auto Sports, we recommend a visit. For Mustang and Ford nuts, it's like being a kid in a giant candy store.

Wagons East
So with the party over, the trip began in earnest on a Monday morning. Although the western portion of Route 66 actually terminates at the old US 101, now Olympic Blvd, for many folks, the symbol of journey's end is the Santa Monica Pier (there's even a Route 66 plaque there), so that's where we began. Having dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean for some daft reason, (it was freezing, even for the likes of me), we saddled up and headed east. For our trip and with the clock ticking, we elected to try and get out of the horrendous LA traffic as soon as possible. We drove the 427R to the junction of Olympic and Lincoln in Santa Monica where the road 'begins' but then decided to jump on Interstate 10, then grab I-15 in downtown Los Angeles, which more or less follows the original route out toward San Bernadino. One detour you should make if you can is in Rialto, site of one of the two remaining Wigwam motels on old Route 66.

On the freeway we got thumbs up from passers by and a few honkin' horns as folks checked out the retina-scorching Roush. Just north of San B, we picked up our first section of the original Route 66 and tracked North toward Victorville. It had taken us an hour and a half to reach this point, but we could already see the change in the landscape around us. Santa Monica had been temperate and breezy, here we were skirting the edge of the Mojave desert. With the vast conurbations of the LA basin behind us, we started to see artifacts of a time gone by. The pace was a refreshing change from the bustle of freeway traffic. Amid the houses and small businesses we caught a glance of some derelict lodging cabins and what looked like a restaurant sign. At this point we were entering the Cajon pass. A Route 66 landmark, the Summit Inn Cafe can be found at the top of the pass. It's been in business since 1952. On toward Victorville and despite the construction just east of downtown, we found decently marked signage marking Route 66 and Main Street. Named after a construction superintendent for the California Railroad, James Victor, this town serves as a regional hub and quite a prosperous one at that. Icons of the past include the Red Rooster Cafe, which houses the California Route 66 museum and if you've got time, the Green Tree Inn and Corral Motel are worth a look. Join us next month as we reach Barstow and head out into the wilds of the Mojave.

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