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While Route 66 is regarded as one of the best road trips found anywhere in the world, the stretch holds a special place in the hearts of classic car lovers.  

Much like Australia, it’s easy to underestimate just how big the United States really is. In fact, the journey from New York City to Los Angeles, which is on the other side of the country, takes an eye watering forty-three hours – and that’s without factoring in any stops.

As such, the concept of the American road trip has become somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon. While there are plenty of options to do so, the most famous highway covers an enormous stretch of bitumen between Missouri and Arizona – Route 66.

Simply put, no other road has captured the imagination and the essence of the American spirit quite like Route 66, and it’s unlikely that another ever will. While the highway has inspired countless musicians, filmmakers and writers, there’s another demographic that almost worships this thoroughfare: classic car lovers. 

The Magic Of Route 66 According To Car Lovers

Over one hundred years ago, entrepreneurial businessmen Cyrus Avery and John Woodruff imagined a ‘superhighway’ that connected Chicago to Los Angeles that would help bring industry from the East to the West. 

As such, Route 66 received official designation in 1926, after the government enacted a plan for national highways. Planners intended Route 66 to be more than just a quick way to get from one side of the country to the other, as they wanted to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities, and Route 66 would give many small towns their first access to a major road. 

Route 66 would go on to become the symbol of opportunity to hundreds of thousands of people seeking escape from the despair of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. The vast highway carried countless Depression-era migrants from the Midwest en route to California hoping for jobs and a better life, and the flat all-season route led to an increase in long-distance trucking.

Today, the National Scenic Byways Program denotes Historic Route 66 as going through four different American states – Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. At roughly 2,269 kilometres in length, it takes about five or six days to drive Historic Route 66 from one end to the other. While the obvious appeal is taking in the landscapes and the diversity of America’s natural wonders – some of which include the likes of the Grand Canyon – why do classic car enthusiasts prioritise Route 66 as a tourism destination of choice?

According to Nick Gerlich, a professor at West Texas A&M and an avid explorer of old Route 66, it all boils down to anemoia – a wish to return to a past era that one hasn’t experienced. Professor Gerlich makes a point to state that anemoia is actually quite different from the concept of nostalgia, which is a wish to return to something that one has experienced. 

Gerlich acknowledged that like many other history enthusiasts, he loved exploring old and obscure alignments of Route 66 because it inflames his imagination of what happened before.

“We want to see the past before we ever came into it. When I see an old culvert, I see the movement of people,” he explained.

The distinction is important, as people have long thought that nostalgia by ageing baby boomers is a key driver of interest in Route 66. In contrast, anemoia shows the appeal of Route 66’s historic sites is much more broad, and underlines the importance of heritage tourism. 

As classic car enthusiasts evidently already feel strong ties to anemoia through their automotives of choice, it’s clear that the same logic applies to those who feel compelled to explore the United States by road, and specifically, Route 66. It’s not about longing for the past, but simply wishing to experience it for themselves. 

Your Guide To Everything Classic Cars

Finding a fellow vintage auto enthusiast can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, but rest assured that Classic’s Garage understands the thrill more than most. Having spent forty years collecting anything and everything from matchbox cars to hub caps, he’s successfully followed his passion to source, collect and stock beautiful and low mileage classic automobiles from around the world.

Although his passion is for automobiles built before 1978, with a particular love for Buicks, Cadillacs, Lincolns, Oldsmobiles and even Fords, Wayne is just as passionate about the stories of the owners. If it’s even remotely different, rare or just plain unusual, Wayne will overcome the relevant logistical and geographical challenges of bringing the cars to his showroom in Australia. 

Classic’s Garage is a showroom conveniently located at Seventeen Mile Rocks, that specialises in the restoration and sales of vintage automobiles. If you’re on the hunt for Brisbane classic cars – quite simply, Wayne is your man. If you would like to arrange a viewing or inspect any other of our classic vehicles, please get in touch with us today.