Steve Merrihew

My friend and I have completed the (mostly) mechanical restoration to my 1972 Montreal. Having spent the past 4 years chipping-away at the "to-do" list to get my car back on the road [front suspension, steering, rear suspension, brakes, engine (gaskets, seals, oil hoses, water pump bearing upgrade, etc.), motor mounts, clutch, transmission (seals and gaskets), SPICA pump, fuel pump, filters, new tires, new exhaust system, minor interior work, etc.], we felt that the best way to celebrate our achievement was to drive the car from Creede, Colorado (where my friend - and volunteer mechanic - lives, and my car used to live) to Ellicott City, Maryland (where I live, and the car now lives).

I am very pleased to report that we made it. Not only did the car make it, but the only problem we ran into with the car was a leaking fuel filter while still in Colorado (the engine-bay fuel filter seal swelled, creating a gap which leaked badly). We were able to squeeze the seal back in place and resume our trip with no additional problems. We traveled a total of 2946 km (1830 miles), consuming 368 liters of gasoline (97.3 gallons) for a trip-averaged fuel economy of 12.7 liters per 100 km (18.7 miles per gallon). Our mileage (kilometerage?) ranged from a high of 22.6 MPG (10.4 liters/100 km) for the drive down from the Ricky Mountains into Denver to a low of 16.8 MPG (14.0 liters/100 km) while crossing Kentucky and West Virginia. Not too bad for a high-performance, 33 year old engine, especially considering that much of the driving was done at 4,000 RPM (approximately 80 miles per hour).

A few notes from the trip: 1) Contrary to popular opinion, Kansas is not entirely flat (although the roads are VERY straight). 2) Southern Illinois is much more flat than Kansas. 3) In the seven or so hours it took to cross Kansas on route 36 (a secondary highway that more-or-less parallels the main interstate highway), we were passed by exactly zero cars, and we passed perhaps as few as 15 cars (the roads were nearly empty). 4) Missouri had, by far, the worst road conditions on our trip (which included - in order of the trip - Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and finally Maryland). 5) A non-airconditioned Montreal can be rather uncomfortable when the outside air temperature is 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) with 90% humidity. 6) The mid-west states (Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana) do not qualify as sports car country (straight roads, etc.). Actually, we did not see a Porsche from the time we left the Denver area until we reached Maryland. Shocking, since Porsche's are everywhere on both the East and West coasts in the US (and we passed within 5 miles of Stuttgart in, I think, Indiana). Unfortunately, we did not see a single Alfa Romeo on the entire trip. The pull-out of Alfa from the US in the early 90's has made them quite rare on our roadways. 7) Windshield wipers apparently do not suffer from lack of use. My wipers had not been used for more than 10 years, yet they easily handled the more than 4 hours of rain we drove through in West Virginia (we had changed the wiper blades, however).

We did have one scary moment while in Kentucky, however. We were nearly hit when making a turn to pull in to a parking lot for lunch (at Rick's Café in Frankfort, Kentucky - where I can strongly recommend the Barbeque pork sandwich). A driver behind us was not paying attention as we pulled into his lane to turn into the parking lot. The sound of locking brakes soon got our attention, however. A quick inspection showed that, luckily, the only "damage" was a small smudge of black rubber (from his bumper) on the right-rear quarter panel (just in front of the rear bumper and below the trim piece) with no dent to the metal. Fortunately, a potentially disastrous accident was avoided. However, we drove with the constant fear of another accident for the next few hours.

So, I'd call the trip a resounding success. The trip demonstrated the quality of the work that my friend put into the car over these past 4 years as well as the abilities of a Montreal as a true Sports GT. At the end of each day's drive (when we were worn out by the heat), the Montreal was clearly ready for more. The Montreal also severely tested our will-power as it seemed to ask for "more speed" at every opportunity - be it the arrow-straight roads in Kansas or the winding mountain highways in West Virginia. It was only due to our fear of the highway patrol, and also our ever-weakening sense of social responsibility, that we only rarely exceeded 5000 RPM in fifth gear (about 100 miles per hour). Now that the car is with me in Maryland, my only regret is that there aren't better driving roads nearby!

Thanks to all on the forum, and especially to Bruce Taylor, for providing such a valuable resource of knowledge. Without this global support group, my Montreal may not have been returned to the road where it belongs.

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