The dream goes on…
The year was almost over. If I remember correctly I had 365 days to bring the car into Canada. Ruth and I bought a one-way ticket to Minneapolis. We were met at the airport and drove to Grantsburg. We visited for a few days. Each day I took the Toronado for a test ride. No one was convinced that the Toronado would make it to the Canadian border let alone all the way Calgary.
We stopped at the gas station, filled the tank, and off we went. By the time we got to the Canadian border I calculated that we were getting about 6 miles to the gallon. This hobby was not cheap. We got to the border crossing, the security people looked at the car and the lady in the booth simply smiled, checked the paperwork and sent us on our way. We continued our drive north. We got to Winnipeg and the car was running as smooth as silk. We stayed over night. We got up early in the morning and headed toward Calgary. Other than the gas everything seemed to be going smoothly. Going west we got as far as Regina. While we were driving through the city I felt a hesitation from the motor but it seemed fine after a short while and we got back on the freeway. About 20 minutes outside of the city an RCMP trouper pulled up behind us, turned on his lights and pulled us over. The officer got out of his car and walked up to my window. I knew I had not been speeding so I asked him, “What seems to be the problem officer?” He asked me for my drivers license, proof of insurance, and proof of ownership. He then went back to his own car. We sat there for the longest time; 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes had gone by. I looked at Ruth and said something is wrong. I got out of the car and walked over to the RCMP officer. He rolled down his window and asked me what I wanted. I asked him what the problem was. I explained to them that the car didn’t have seatbelts and that’s the only reason I thought he could pull me over for. I told him the car was a classic and it was my understanding that being in original condition it didn’t have to have seatbelts. He looked at me and said, “That is not the issue, I have called some other officers because I wanted them to see this car. We don’t get an opportunity like this very often. I was not going to pass it up.” Within a few minutes there were three more RCMP cars lined up behind us. We visited, talked about the car, they ask questions, and I got to tell my story. It felt great. With a grin from ear to ear I put the key back in the ignition, handed the title and insurance paper back to Ruth and she put it in the glove box. I put the car in gear, stepped on the gas and off we went.
The dream was intact. I was confident this car would make it all the way to Calgary. We laughed together and even Ruth had a smile on her face. The next hundred miles went by so fast and then without any warning something happened. It was as if the transmission began to shift on its own. I pulled the car over to the side of the freeway. I sat there and did not know what to do. I went through the gears and started to drive away. The car would not go over 20 miles an hour. There’s a small town ahead of us. I drove into town looking for a mechanic. I found a transmission shop, I pulled up, stopped, went in and talked with the mechanic. He came out and after looking at the motor and transmission he told me the transmission had serious problems. It would never make it to Calgary. I asked him how much money it would cost to repair the transmission. He said, “$1000.” I felt sick. I did not have that kind of money. It appeared the dream was over. I told the mechanic I would start to drive toward Calgary. If the car died I would put the keys and the title card under the floor mat. If the card died he could have it. Ruth and I would flag down the next bus and get back to Calgary. I pulled away from his shop got back on the freeway. With a tear in my eye I stepped on the gas. I floored the gas pedal hoping that in some miraculous way everything would be okay. The RPMs cranked up high and all of a sudden the transmission shifted. We went from 20 to 80 miles an hour in what seemed like seconds. I started to smile. I looked at Ruth and said “We are going to make it.”
We pulled into Calgary with the transmission going up and down. Something was wrong but I did not know what it was. I drove down the back alley and parked the car next to the garage. It felt great to be home.
That week I asked a friend to look at the car. I told him what happened and he looked at the motor, reached under the hood and said look here the vacuum hose is disconnected. He reconnected the hose and everything was fine. Apparently the rubber hose had started to rot from sitting in the barn. We replaced the hose and the dream had come back to life.