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Highway cruising speed?

Guest RonJar

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Just purchased a 38 Buick Century, it's 120 miles from home and I may have to drive it home, I'm having difficulty getting a trailer to use. And of course, I'm very itchy to get it home.

Two choices, go "cross country"(longer) or use the freeway.(shorter)

What would a safe cruising speed be for the freeway? The speed limit is 60 mph and 90% of the traffic drives around 70 mph.

Thanks, RonJ

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You didn't mention your start and ending locatons, but I suggest you select an alternate route rather than the freeway. Back roads are always more enjoyable. That and the slower pace is why we choose to avoid freeways on PreWar tours.

You should also limit the strain you put on a newly acquired old car. One never really knows if the previous owner maintained the car well enough to handle continuous high speed driving.

My $0.02

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My suggestion. I would not take it over 50 mph, but make sure you are safely home in daylight, anticipating you may have a problem with a car you do not know well.

If you do take the freway, I assume you will have someone get you to the car, so you can have them follow using their flashers, as well as some tools and possibly spares in that car. I would also make sure you have some extra water/antifreeze. I would encourage that you take, at least, the first 15-20 miles on local roads till you know the car better.

Good Luck,



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Welcome and congratulations to another fellow '38 Century owner !!!

I have done thousands of miles in a '39 Century and 50MPH was doing it comfortably. We were never in a major hurry and never wanted to push the old girl unnecessarily harder than we had to. Looking forward to a few pics. It's pics of other cars that inspires me to get my finger out and get on with mine.


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Hey Straight eight, I located someone to trailer the car home for me, I don't think you want to much about that, pretty uneventful except for all the people looking and asking questions about the car during a gas stop ... <G>


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When I bought my '40 Buick, last year, I drove it home (230 miles) from Denver, @ about 55 on the freeway, with a "follow" car. Put her up on the lift, pulled the pan for the customary cleaning, and found that the filter screen for the oil pump was buried in about an inch of grey crud. Job one was to rebuild the pump and re solder the screen/float to the pick up tube.

Just my $ .02

Mike in Colorado

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Some great comments and advice, especially as far as not knowing prior maintenance. If I had to drive it, I would keep off of the Interstate Highway, and start off at 45 mph of so. Assuming all went well I would run at 50 - 55 mph until I got it home to perform all needed maintenance, including dropping the oil pan to check things out.

Trailering was likely a safe choice, but the other suggestions were right on point. I've driven newly bought cars home cross-country. I always prepared an emergency kit and basic tools, as well as a roster of "car-guys" along the way. Some repairs on the way were inevitable, and some surprises as well, but we always made it home.

Our Buicks rarely gave serious problems, but a flight to Houston, Texas to drive 375 miles home to New Orleans, Louisiana in a poorly-maintained 2-cylinder 425cc 1964 Belgian-Version French Citroen 2CV was another story.

Her flat-out top speed was not quite 55 mph on I-10 where traffic was whizzing around at 75-85+ mph. Each overpass was yet another challenge. My progress was slow but steady until the rain forced me to turn on the single-speed electric wiper. That was when I learned that the voltage regulator did not regulate and generator did generate. Adding the now-needed headlights into the mix reduced the current to the coil and distributor, and would make the underpowered tin-snail backfire something awful!

I ran now-30 mph slower than traffic without lights, and made it across the 26 mile long I-10 bridge over the Achafalaya spillway between Henderson and Gros Tete, Louisiana, turning on the lights only when another car approached.

At the first exit was the Tiger Truck Stop. I put the 6-Volt battery on a fast charge for the 2 hours that it took for friends to drive out in 2 cars - one to ride ahead, and one behind with 4-way flashers. To reduce the need for headlights sucking the battery dry again, I bought disposable flashlights and electrical tape to attach them to the bumper guards. Then I drove with the freshly recharged battery, using only the parking lights so that the tail lights were lit.

Other than properly repairing the electrics and rerplacing a Michelin-X tire and tube, the car did fine fine for years.She eventually went home to Trimacar's family, along with two of her French sisters, a '71 Citroen DS-21 Safari and a 5-speed 4-overhead-cam Maseratti-engined '72 Citroen SM which was faster than greased-lightning and smooth as ----- well it was a Supercar for its era, and way ahead of its time.

Edited by Marty Roth
typos (see edit history)
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