On the Side of the Road–Vintage Chevy Pickup Parts


Driving along the road in Minnesota a site to behold popped out at us.  It was a line of vintage Chevy pickup trucks.


Who does this?  Sure we’ve seen vintage pickup trucks on the side of the road and a few of them are worth noting.  This was above and beyond.  so who had accumulated this collection of bodies, frames and parts?


It was Sunday and they were closed so there was no one to talk to and ask questions.  So we did what we do and took photos of all the treasures.



Set back from the road was a second row of truck cabs and bodies just waiting for that collector that wanted an amazing project.




It wasn’t just Chevy pickup trucks either.


Next to this GMC was another Ford pickup truck.


Tons of all styles and years of cabs waiting for you.


But what about a rust-free frame?


Plenty to pick from.


So this is the one stop place you have been looking for…


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Oregon–Green Springs Highway

This curvy highway snakes around the mountains and was a major part of our route between Bend and Hood River.  It was quite a road.


I’ve driven Pikes Peak and Mount Washington.  I’ve driven the Tail of the Dragon and many other mountain roads that challenge and thrill, but I must say that this one just may take the cake.


Guardrails are sparse and you can take the speed signs seriously.  The road not only curves, it undulates.


The Dragon has 318 turns in 11 miles, but this road goes on for at least 30 miles of amazing turns.  The views are breathtaking, too.   This is a fun road.  The Jeep Liberty is not a rally car, but it handled this road well and yes, I did wish for my Mitsubishi Evolution IX .

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On the Road–Man’s Best Friend Along for the Ride

As we travel from towns to cities to forests and the high desert it is nice to see fellow travelers enjoying themselves.  This guy was having a good time in the bed of a pickup truck.


He loved waiting for the cars going in the other direction and following them with his head as they drove past.



Its great to see travelers that are enjoying the ride.

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On the Side of the Road–Titan II Missile Museum

Okay, it’s not a car, but it is a motor vehicle and very fast and it was on the side of the road.  This was quite an exhibit, especially these days.


I mean, how often do you get to see a nuclear missile site?  We got to see what the reentry vehicle amounted to (the bomb).


The reentry vehicle came back to earth at over 20 times the speed of sound.


This was some serious stuff.


Here was a chart of the missile museums.  Perhaps there is one near you.


These were the locations of Minute Man and Titan missile sites.


Things don’t work 100% at all times so there was redundancy built in to the missile systems.  Called Overkill.  It was deemed important to be certain that if a strike was launched we would do our part to end the world as we know it.

At the time it was known as mutually assured destruction or MAD.  All we can say is that it has worked so far.  But do see the movies Dr. Strangelove and War Games and think about it yourself.


Before we went down to the actual underground missile and command center we watched a video on the cold war.


Following that we went to the hatch and walked down about 55 stair steps to get to where the blast doors were.



Which led to another blast door.


Eventually to the command launch center where we observed and participated in a launch simulation that showed us what was involved in a launch of a Titan II missile.


The underground rooms were supported on multiple springs in order to survive a near miss from an enemy missile.



After the “launch” we went to the actual silo and had a look at an inert Titan II missile.



Then we climbed back out and took a look at the things that were above ground .  One being the huge and heavy door that normally covered the missile.


The Titan II is a two stage missile and these are the engines for the first stage that got it about fifty mile in the air and fifty miles closer to it target.


Then the second stage engine would propel it another 200 miles before it would release the re-entry vehicle,  otherwise known as the thermonuclear weapon, to fall on its target.


Was this scary? Yes and no.  The thought of the reality of such weapons ever being used is unbelievable.  Thank goodness we haven’t as I doubt that it would solve any problems except over population.

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Pima Air Museum

No it is not a museum about air or our atmosphere.  It is about aircraft!  Faster than a  speeding Hellcat!  Aircraft are amazing and their development parallels the automobile.  The airplane also changed our life and our infrastructure.  This museum is a must see.


But keep in mind that this is Arizona and by this time of year it is hot.  Often in triple digits.  so get there early in the day and have plenty of water to consume.  There are acres of aircraft on outside display as well as several buildings for you to continue exploring in when you need to get out of the sun.


Multiple versions of the Harrier vertical takeoff jets.


A very early version of a jet fighter. 


The fabulous F-16


Off in the distance is our largest Cold War bomber.


The B-36 Peacemaker


This version was always flying around Cape Cod in the Cold War as early warning of Soviet bombers.


This is the B-52 Stratofortress.  Still active as our largest bomber that outlived the Cold War.


For a brief period of time this Hustler was our strategic bomber.


The MIG Soviet fighter.


The deadly Soviet MIG-21




The Cobra gunship.


This jet turoboprop prototype was based on WW II’s P51 D


The UAV Predator


Acres of aircraft




The SR-71, the worlds fastest, highest flying manned aircraft.  With several buff Americans enjoying the museum.

This really is a great place to visit and soon they will have a special section of military vehicles on site for those of us that are automotive in our perspective.

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The Gateway Auto Museum

We were heading toward Arizona and leaving Colorado despite many miles yet to travel and we came across a wonderful museum put together by the founder of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks.  The property is beautiful and the museum was fabulous.  It was a combination of his own view of the automobile as part of his life experiences and his obvious love of how it transformed America.


First was a film explaining just what the automobile meant to America and what to expect as you explored the collection.


Then you left the theatre to see what was on display.



The Indian motorcycle, of course a favorite of mine since it was part of Springfield, Massachusetts, history.




How the magic of Hollywood influenced What the automobile meant.  As the stars of the cinema lived their surreal lives so their cars became surreal dreams of life.




I mean, who would imagine powering your car with a V16 engine?


How the car that evolved in the 1950’s and 1960’s defined what America was and where it expected to go.





What defined Route 66?  The car?  The song? The TV show? Or was it just the time in history?


It was an exciting exhibit that will touch your automotive soul while it brings back memories and lets you reexamine your perspective of the automobile and our country’s history.

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On the Side of the Road–a Bit of the Past

Still in Colorado, we were heading to a great car museum and as we got close we saw this…


A classic service station


If you know what this is you probably have many years on your birthday cake.


It was a nice reminder of the past.  We will soon follow with our adventure at the museum.

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Flyin’ Miata!

If you have a Mazda Miata or have a friend with one you probably have heard of Flyin’ Miata.  They have been around since the beginning of the Miata and continue to produce some fantastic products that not only make the Miata experience better but has solutions that correct some weak spots.

Mike was there to greet us once we found our way through the vineyards and fruit tree orchards that surround the Flyin’ Miata shop.


His bemused smile leads to a heart of gold and he gave us full access to their shop and cars.  It was great to be able to wander around and be able to ask questions about everything we wanted.


Flyin’ Miata, like most aftermarket companies, must adapt to the challenges of the EPA’s focus on ensuring our street cars comply with regulations.  Even when we search for more than stock power.

There were several of the cars that they used to prototype and test new product there for us to photograph.





Aerodynamic aids such as this wing are very popular for the later generation Miatas.

Mike showed me this new LED lighting kit for an NA that also will be an option for later generations. 


I thought it was fantastic.  I’ve tried LED conversions on other types of cars that I own with mixed results.  Often finding that headlight bulbs LED replacements actually hum!  Of course Flyin’ Miata’s solution is fully tested and worked out making it a problem-free conversion that provides superior lighting that has longer life than standard incandescent bulbs.

Mike and I were talking about the highly effective butterfly frame brace was with the early cars and he told me about how they now 3D print parts that are no longer available as replacements from Mazda.  One is a small piece that plays a big part in securing the convertible tops.


On top of that, they make a replacement door bumper that replaces the stock piece that by this time is probably cracked and  worn.  He showed how it provides a secure door closure that sounds great when you close the door and actually firms up the chassis since it provides a great and complete connection between the door and the frame.


As we wandered around discussing things they showed me a new technology battery that uses Lithium-Ion technology to provide far more cranking power and in a package that weighs about 70% less.  It also doesn’t need to be vented as the stock lead acid battery requires.  And no, this battery technology doesn’t have the fire hazard that we remember from the days of burning laptops.  Yes, it is more expensive, but hey that is the price of an exceptional solution.


See that button on top by the handle?  Say that you’ve had your Miata in your garage over the winter or that you’ve left your lights on?  What do you usually do?  Call a service or pull out your charger?  With this battery all you have to do is press the button and you have enough power to start.


Pretty impressive eh?  They will assist you with any mounting questions you may have.

And here it is in an even smaller package…


Jo found it weighed about what my camera does.  Amazing.

The folks at Flyin’ Miata were so very helpful and really gave us free reign of their facility.  Everyone was helpful and knowledgeable.  So if you have needs for your Miata or questions about a solution you are looking for, give them a call at 970-464-5600 or , if you are in Colorado take a drive through wine country and see them in person – 499 35 Road, Palisade, CO 81526

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Found on the side of the road Redstone Coke Ovens in Colorado

As we traveled northwest from Florissant we came to Redstone Colorado where there were these rows of beehive coke ovens that are just off the road.  It consists of the remaining examples of the 200 coke ovens built about 1899 for the production of a byproduct of highly heated coal known as coke.


Here at this site are what remains of at least 250 coking ovens.  They were built of fire brick in a beehive shape and slack coal was burned in ovens for 48 hours at about 2400 degrees.  This resulted in coke that was practically pure carbon that was used in the manufacture of steel.


When the process was completed the end product was taken out of the side of the oven.  The heat was so high it left a glassy deposit on the interior of the ovens.


By 1902 they had produced nearly 6 million tons of coke.  By 1910 it was abandoned.


In the 1960s and 1970s hippies used them to make dwellings.

So what has all this to do with cars?   Well many racers have looked for better brake rotor that can deal with the heat produced and yet be lighter and smaller.  High carbon content rotors do just that.  They are more expensive than cast iron rotors but they don’t have the heat capacity and thermal dissipation rate of the high carbon variety.

In the early 20th century automobiles didn’t use disc brakes and the coke was used to meet the needs of the railroads.

You can and should read more about the positives and negatives of the production of coal into coke.

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Lap of the US–Contest with No Prize


Here is a photo of a car in Colorado Springs that was parked downtown. 

CS Blue Car 01

As you can see, it is blue, from IL, and not of this century.

CS Blue Car 02

It has a simple European interior typical of the 1960s.

CS Blue Car 03

The body shape reminds me of a Fiat, but it is not.

So this is your challenge folks.  Identify the year, make, and model.  Fill in any other pertinent information of the era this car was available and supporting links to support your contention. 

The prize is of no value other than bragging rights.

Please have fun with this challenge folks.  We are looking forward to your answers!

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