This will be the last post on this thread except for some links to pictures.
Below is what I posted to the SPF Owners group --
Recap: My SPF trip from N Colorado to West Bend, Wisconsin and back to N Colorado.
The trip was a bunch of fun. Terri met me in Wisconsin, I picked her up at the Madison Wisconsin airport Thursday evening, and dropped her off Monday morning in Madison again as I began my trip home.
I was on the road for 9 days, covering about 500 miles a day on the 6 "road days". Drove Colorado, Wyoming, S Dakota, N Dakota to the Canadian border, Minnesota, Wisconsin (3 days with friends and a car show), Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.
The car ran great, using approx. 4 gallons of premium gas an hour -- to be safe I gassed it every two hours (and stretched my legs). (3000 rpm in 6th gear is 100 mph and very comfortable, but I normally cruised at 75- 80 mph).
I still have pictures to post, but life is intruding, so I wanted to post this note. The two links below are a hint of what I had the pleasure of listening to for the trip.
Then engine is a hardened 4.6 modular with a VMP blower. With stock SPF sidepipes.
Ramblings from the trip.
Driving long distances alone with nothing to entertain me but an old GPS, I found interesting thoughts wandering thru my head.
There is a lot of maintenance being done on our highways. It is good to see. This network of roads was built in a simpler, less expensive time, and the normal wear and tear of driving on the roads clearly breaks them down. Every state had work going on.
Riding with the SPF side pipes, with minimum muffling makes it clear that driving in a car like this is a series of controlled explosions. That any engines actually run hour after hour, mile after mile seems miraculous.
Cars made by brands that are no longer being made, named for planets, are everywhere in the states that I was driving thru. Mercury and Saturn both ended production in the 2010-2011 time frame. Both have distinctive branding, with the Saturn red inserts being impossible to miss. The Mercury grill logo is also very different. The mid-country states must have bought all of these cars, because I ran into them constantly. And the folks who bought them take care of them. They, the Saturns and the Mercurys, looked like they came off a showroom floor. In nine days of country driving I might have seen 2 Porsches, a couple more Mercedes, but saw Saturns and Mercurys daily.
The Chevy Cruz should have been a Ford. GM got the styling right. Sort of like the minus-1 generation Ford Escape, it has a timeless look. No geegaws.
Maybe it was the classic shape of the SPF Cobra replica, or the engine noises, the exhaust noises when pulling up to the gas pump, or the cranking experience after filling, but I received nothing but appreciation on this trip both driving and gassing up. Without exception. Filling up, I don’t think there was ever a “no comment” stop. Everyone had a comment or a question. My favorite was this crusty chick, full cowgirl, who stepped out of a pickup in Wyoming and said, “I had me one of them early 'Vettes too. Shoulda kept it. Good car. Did I mention that it sucks around here? Land is dirty, the people dirty, bleep, I’m leaving here today, just decided.”
There were an amazing number of “tracking” vehicles, cars or motorcycles that slowed down or sped up to just ride along for a while. Kids heads sticking out of the back window was a common sight, all grins. I didn’t count the number of thumbs ups or V signs, and especially riding along in the rain, with me dry from the air flowing over the windshield, seemed to fascinate people. Like riding in a cocoon, with the little windshield wipers working.
The big-ass 15” MT ST tires worked like a champ in the rain. I always view water on the pavement as an opportunity to “play a little” without having to drive aggressively, but I had to press the gas pedal get the STs sliding sideways. Drifting the on-ramps is always fun. And both when playing in the rain and accelerating thru the gears, I tried to remind myself that the goal was to make it back to Adam’s garage in Colorado under my own power. Until I was within 200 miles of Adams’s house I generally used 4000-4500 rpm as a shift point, because it sounds so leisurely strong and mellow at that level, whereas winding up to 6000 sounds like I’m racing, and draws unwanted attention.
Being safe with the "un-tuned" engine, not wanting to risk a lean condition from fuel slosh when playing (every curve and stop/start are play opportunities) I gassed up every 2-2.5 hours except for two times when there were no filling stations (that I trusted) to be found. I almost never needed fewer than 8 gallons, and almost never needed more than 10.5 gallons. The fill ups gave me a chance to raise the hood and look around, sniff around under the hood. And stretch the old legs. Twice I needed 13+ gallons. And the tank is more or less 16 gallons. It is a Fuel Safe fuel cell, with some foam inserts, and as I was driving along, the thought occurred that maybe I should have replaced the foam – uh -- 5 years ago. Too late now, but every time I filled up, I wished that I had checked out the condition inside the fuel cell.
I ran a lot of the rural roads. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes just to see what was hiding back there. There are a lot of sweet little towns hiding off the main roads. Some look gentrified, some are weathered, but still good-looking stuff. The only scary part was the small town 65 to 45, to 35, to 25 (or 20) mph speed limit signs that all happened in a ¼ mile and just felt like a ticker-maker. Although I was almost always over the speed limits on the open road, I observed the 25s and 20s like a choirboy. I have mentioned before that I was arrested a lot in my youth, and the little guy inside my brain still expects me to be arrested and feel some pain when feel some pain when in proximity of a law enforcement vehicle. But this turned out to be a good vibe trip. People were ready to see an SPF chugging thru town. Saw a lot of law enforcement, and had NO negative experiences. I felt really lucky that I got no tickets and only a couple of sniff stops and cautionary waves. Pressing the palm in a downward direction seems to be a universal signal. One law enforcement gentleman cupped his ear and I obliged with a serious rev which produced a laugh and a thumbs up.
Gearing -- at 3000 rpm in 6th gear #2117 runs at 100 mph. At 75-80ish, I am just above lugging the little 4.6 modular in 6th. In my attempt to “finish” the SPF, I am going to replace 5th and 6th on the T56. 1,2,3,4 are perfect so I don’t want to change the final drive ratio. 5th is a hair too tall, and 6th is really serious overdrive. I will work it out. I am sure this work has already been done. I will just buy the solution from someone. The engine, being tiny, is happy at 2300 rpm and up, and so am I.
My hearing is strange. At age 72, it is very sensitive. I hear things in social settings that I wish I would not hear.
I love listening to the SPF pipes, but wore some ear plugs (Cobra Valley Road Trip ear plugs) because I knew that I would be listening to the pipes for 6 days, 9-11 hours a day. The ear plugs muted the pipes a little but caused me to hear other things. I could hear the fans turn on and off, I could hear the fluids circulating in the engine. I might have been hallucinating, but it was all good.
Time to wrap up the rambling. Last year I drove #2117 1500 miles from Gary Osbourne’s garage in Houston to my son’s garage in N Colorado. That was fun, but a challenge. This year, with some work my son Adam had done on the car, the ride was much more fun. Then with Terri flying in for the event, and meeting everyone in Wisconsin in West Bend, hanging out at the Thomas car barn/palace, driving the Wisconsin roads, cruising to and attending the Pardeeville car show, visiting the Slinger Speedway, eating and drinking and telling tall tales -- and meeting a few folks in person for the first time and connecting with folks that I had already met.
Take your SPF on a long ride. Do it when you can hook up with your SCOF friends. You owe it to yourself.
James and Terri Walker #2117