Six months on the road from Oregon to Florida with a fully loaded 30-year-old van, a four cylinder Jetta engine, to some would seem a daunting challenge. With a manual 4-speed (4th, slow, slower, slowest) and semi’s pulling three trailers passing us going uphill, Thor powered through the Rockies and motored past the Mojave. We even drove him in the dunes. Daunting? Bah! This dude was awesome…
A guy pulling a trailer full of ATV’s called him “wicked cool“. We’ve had so many people stop and ask about Thor on this trip. Some of them shared stories of their own road trips in VW vans or buses. Many of them shared the names of their vehicles (Kermit, Little Miss Sunshine, Clementine). Some of them gave us advise.
The best advice we got was when Thor was acting up in California. Something sputtering with the fuel system. We called our mechanic back in Portland and he told us we need to put Chevron premium grade fuel in the tank. A couple tank fulls later Thor ran like a champ. With time to spare in Ventura, we replaced Thor’s belts and put in a new alternator. Checked the oil often. Kicked the tires. We even spent a few hours in a drive-up car wash.
Another piece of advice we got from our mechanic was to get the premier AAA coverage. We’ve been members since 1979, took his advice, and bumped up our coverage. I think it’s around $125. And it payed off.
About fifty miles outside of Houston, mid-day, mid-week, we had a front tire blow out on I-10. This was not a flat, this was a full on blow out. An hour later AAA was there to tow us thirty miles to a tire shop. A few hours later, while we went out for a bite, Thor was wearing brand new front tires. They even matched his back tires. We were ready to roll along and be on our merry way.
Yeah, there’s the random red light that flickers on the dash, the few hoses I’ve clamped down, we “wake up” his radio by inserting a CD into its slot, but this thirty-year-old bad boy got us here with no real mechanical incident.
The MVP for this road trip and the winner of a FREE oil change goes to Thor- The Mighty.
With only one minor infraction*, this Bad Boy was MVP runner up…