Can we drive across the USA in a classic American car, for just as much as a break in Centre Parks? This is the question Matt Jones asked his two friends back in 2009 when planning their summer holiday.
So they decided to set themselves a challenge, to drive across America in a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, on a shoestring budget.
They purchased a $1,400 Cadillac later known as ‘Old Breaky’ with help of the Performance Direct Non Standard Awards during the first stop of their road trip in Columbus, Ohio, situated on the east coast of America. They then began making significant repairs to the brakes before their journey began.
The trip, however, did not start well, when just 12 miles after setting off they came to a sudden stop due to a brake callipers seizure and a small amount of brake fluid leaking, which needed urgent repair.
Once the car was fixed they set off again, driving 14 hours on the open road which was not the most exciting of times. With cramped car conditions and horrible food they found themselves in Kansas City by evening, craving some kind of fruit or vegetable.
The next morning they began the long journey to Colorado. When almost there, they suffered another mechanical fault and this time they needed a new fuel pump. Arriving at their destination, the lads repaired the pump and met some locals who told them about which sights to see in the area. They spent some time visiting the red rocks, at a music festival and soaking up the Colorado culture.
As the journey continued, they began to find driving on the vast open roads that make up American highways incredibly tedious. The only excitement was a drive-thru bank and liquor store, which could only be described as bizarre if not slightly dangerous on occasion. Again they began to crave a home cooked meal, tired of the sugar and meat filled American diet with not a vegetable in sight.
Not long after leaving for Utah the team broke down again, this time due to the coolant tank which they then repaired themselves with a homemade expansion tank made from a plastic bottle. They carried on with their makeshift engine and prayed they would make it to Vegas.
Only 80 miles away from their last stop in Nevada, it all slowly began to fall apart. The water pump eventually gave in, as did one of the engine belts. ‘Breaky’ thankfully made it to Vegas where these problems could be resolved. However, before leaving they noticed a giant green pool of power steering fluid leaking from under the hood and also discovered a broken radiator. Was this the end for ‘Old Breaky’?
With 180 miles to the finish line and only 150 miles of tow cover left with their recovery service, they began to worry about whether they would even make it. Next to go was the transmission, with a leak, along with the ongoing radiator issues, both very hard to plug. Then a huge crack appeared in the belt housing, totally disrupting the planned course.
The last 30 miles were strenuous, breaking down every few minutes but continuously fixing the ongoing problems themselves and soldiering on. From pulling off parts of the car, to topping up on fluid every half a mile, the team did not give in and made it past the tow line continuing on to the finish line.
They made it to Ventura California where they finally managed to sell ‘Old Breaky’ for $1,000 to a car dealer named Ruban. The boys waved goodbye to their beloved friend and it drove off into the sunset.
If it wasn’t for the Performance Direct Non Standard Awards, none of this would have been possible. Instead of an American adventure the boys will never forget, they could have been sat in the rain in a Norfolk Centre Parks. I know which holiday I would prefer!