I'm a firm believer in using your hobby vehicle, be it a pickup, hot rod, muscle car, or whatever. They were designed as everyday vehicles when they were new, the majority of us have improved suspension and drivetrains, even air conditioning, and the road network is way better these days than even a couple of decades ago, so what's to stop you from jumping in your truck and hitting the road?

That's what Street Rodder magazine associate editor Ryan Manson and I thought when we decided to drive to this year's Lonestar Roundup in Austin, Texas, rather than fly. The gas worked out cheaper than two airfares, and we'd get a roadtrip story each out of it while enjoying the trip on company time. Everyone wins! The original plan was for him to take his '55 Chevy and me to drive my '46 sedan-turned-roadster-pickup. Way better to have two vehicles in case of emergencies. His six-speed transmission and airbag suspension install ended up keeping the Chevy off the road however, so it was that we both set out mid-Thursday in my Ford, with little more than a change of clothes each, camera gear, a toolbag, an iPod, a box of spares, and a scrap of paper reading " I8 to I10, turn left on 290 to Austin." Which kinda belies the fact that it was almost 1,500 miles away!

I'd been keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and with thunderstorms in the cards for New Mexico and Texas on our outward journey, I spent the two days preceding our departure fabricating an aluminum roof for the truck, which will later be covered to resemble a folding roof. In the event it proved more use in keeping the sun off us as the only rain we encountered was some light sprinkling (and fog) in the last 100 miles coming into Austin in the early hours of Saturday morning. We'd planned on arriving late Friday afternoon, but after we switched drivers during the night in Arizona the steering started to act up. As Ryan's '55 rides on old bias-plies with a sloppy steering box, he's used to his car wandering all over the road, and didn't notice anything wrong, but as soon as I took over again in New Mexico I realized something was amiss. The truck uses a Caprice front clip, and I'd never changed any of the steering components. Couple that with some rather, er, enthusiastic driving during the Goodguys Autocross at their recent Costa Mesa event, and the ball joints on the centerlink, as well as the idler arm, had decided enough was enough. As we were literally freezing at about 3 a.m. anyway, we found a motel and took a look at the steering the following morning. We then wasted a few hours locating parts and fitting them in a parking lot. Hey, it's all part of the fun.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, with desert and more desert to look at, until things started getting greener halfway across Texas. Then it got dark, Ryan put his foot down in an attempt to make up some time, and we got pulled over for speeding. Luck was on our side and we only received a warning but Ryan half-jokingly said he wasn't driving any more as things only went wrong when he was behind the wheel. I finished the trip, if only to make sure we actually got there. As it turned out, Friday had been washed out at the Roundup, with torrential rain, so we hadn't missed much. The show itself was a blast as always, especially as each evening is spent cruising South Congress, watching bands in the local clubs or at Austin Speed Shop, and generally having a ball. Not that that's hard to do in Austin!