Carspotting, Route 66 edition

I photographed so many old cars along Route 66 that I just couldn’t save them for my annual end-of-the-year Carspotting post. Here they all are, from east to west.

1966 Chevrolet Superior school bus

1966 Chevrolet/Superior school bus. Bob Waldmire was one of the best friends an old road ever had. Splitting his time between Arizona and Illinois, he traveled the Mother Road constantly, advocated for its preservation and was known for his road-related art. His home base was Springfield, Illinois, where he lived in this converted school bus. Waldmire died in 2009, and his bus is now parked outside the Route 66 Museum, in Pontiac, Illinois.

1972 VW Bus/Camper

1972 VW Bus camper. Waldmire traveled the road in this camper van, which is now on display inside the museum. This bus inspired the Fillmore character in the Pixar movie Cars.

1951 Chevrolet truck

1951 Chevrolet truck. I found this old girl parked in front of a garage in Carlinville, Illinois.

1956 Chevrolet

1956 Chevrolet sedan. Many of the old cars along the route advertised the route’s businesses; this one advertises for a Subway in Edwardsville, Illinois. I hope, however, that the logo peels off easily.

1962 Ford F-100

1964 Ford F-100. Old trucks were also well represented along the Mother Road. This one from somewhere in mid-Missouri looks like a survivor.

Wagon Wheel Motel

1950 Chevrolet sedan. This one’s permanently parked next to the former Standard station at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri. It’s over the station’s former grease pit. For more about the Wagon Wheel, look here. I wrote about this car for Curbside Classic, too, and shared more photos; read about it here.

1951 IH tow truck

1951 International Harvester tow truck.  This rusty work horse inspired the Tow Mater character in the movie Cars. It’s now rusting away along the route, in Galena, Kansas.

1966 Oldsmobile F-85

1966 Oldsmobile F-85. Just down the road in Galena, this fake police car is parked in front of the store it advertises. I can’t remember the last time I saw an F-85! Candy and jerky are certainly not an obvious pairing, but my sons and I stepped inside to sample both, and somehow it works. I especially liked the jerky, and bought a ton of it for us to snack on during the rest of the trip.

1983 Renault Alliance

1983 Renault Alliance. This looks just like the ’83 Alliance MT I used to own (story here). It was a limited edition honoring the Car of the Year award that Motor Trend magazine bestowed upon this hapless car. I think all Alliance MTs were painted this shade of gray, and mine had the same pin stripe, tan interior, and body-color wheels. I wished I could get closer to see for sure. I found this Renault in Quapaw, Oklahoma, among easily a dozen more Alliances. I wrote about them all over at Curbside Classic; read that story here.

1970 Ford Mustang

1970 Ford Mustang. This restored convertible was parked in front of a restaurant in Vinita, Oklahoma. It’s for sale!

1960 Studebaker Lark

1960 Studebaker Lark. In the 1970s, when I was a lad, the Studebaker Lark was my hometown’s favorite beater. If some other car was your town’s cheap-transportation choice in those days, it’s probably because you didn’t live in South Bend, as I did. That’s where this car was made. I wrote a paean to this Lark over at Curbside Classic; read it here.

1957 Chevrolet wagon

1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air wagon. This car belongs to Jerry McClanahan, who wrote the guide we used to follow the Mother Road. He lives just off Route 66 in Chandler, Oklahoma.

Like old cars? Check out my Carspotting posts from 2011 and 2012.


12 responses to “Carspotting, Route 66 edition”

  1. ryoko861 Avatar

    And you didn’t buy it????? LOL!
    Great pics Jim! Route 66 wouldn’t be the nostalgic essence it is without all those cool cars dotted along it!
    You can usually tell an 80’s car by the yellow/gold showing from under the paint on the bumpers. It must have been the standard color of the plastic back in the day. Both my ’81 Mustang and ’84 Turismo had it.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yeah, I remember seeing yellow peeking out on a lot of 80s cars. I wonder why they chose that over gray.

  2. penman4u Avatar

    Good pics Jim, Nice to see some of the wheels I grew up with. Oh, you might want to take a little closer look at that “Old Girl”, the 51 Chevy truck. I’m pretty certain it’s an “Old Boy”.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I didn’t look underneath to be sure!

  3. Mike Avatar

    You really need to make it to Albuquerque to fully appreciate Route 66. Need to do that soon, though, as the old motels and other landmarks are quickly disappearing. Quite a lot of the old cars from that period still here, however. I’m looking forward to the big car show this month at the Art Museum just down the street from our place.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Mike, I’d love to visit Albuquerque one day. Perhaps next time my sons and I take a vacation, I can convince them to continue our Route 66 trek west.

      As you look forward to the big car show, I look forward to the Mecum muscle car auction here in Indy later this month. I’m taking a day off work to go.

  4. Eric Avatar

    The Lark is just a wonderful looking car. I nearly bought one a few years back and often kick myself for not following through.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I gather that they were quite pleasant to drive, offering plenty of power, too. (Sorry to pile on there!)

  5. The Rider Avatar

    Awesome post, thanks, I love the photos!

    1. Jim Avatar


  6. Dani Avatar

    Would love to see inside the Superior schoolbus/home.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I wasn’t remotely curious about the inside when I stood next to it but I am now!

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