Vintage car trip got sidetracked PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Monday, 09 November 2009 11:20
It seemed a straightforward quest.
Don Kline, 62, was going to drive his "best girlfriend," a restored 1934 Pontiac he calls Phiona, all the way from his home in Arizona back to the Gibsonburg family farm where he grew up.
He created a Web site - - with a photo-laden blog that chronicled the easterly journey, planned in roughly 300-mile daily increments over a week-long period from Aug. 19-25 at a steady pace of 50 to 55 miles per hour. (Photo: Don Kline poses with his 1934 Pontiac, which he is driving all the way back home to Arizona. 11/6/09 (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune))
Eagerly monitoring his progress was his sister, Janice Deiter in Wayne, who expected to welcome Don and their brother, Tom, as they passed through Wood County on the final day's drive.
Flush with success after he left St. Louis on Aug. 24, Kline kicked it up to 65 mph as he approached Effingham, Ill., "when a distressing sound came from her engine and the oil pressure gauge dropped to zero. I immediately pulled to the right side of the road and stopped the engine."
Kline and Phiona never made the final legs of the journey under their own speed. Instead, Kline's Ohio kin came to the rescue, driving the 400 miles to pick him up and trailer the car back to Gibsonburg.
It turned out a major engine rebuild was required.
Kline ended up leaving Phiona in the hands of a local expert, Bradner mechanic Mike Graham, returning home to Phoenix on Sept. 16.
Weeks later, on Oct. 23, he "flew into Detroit airport to much colder temps than in Phoenix," eager for a reunion with the '34 Pontiac and his Buckeye state siblings.
The engine rebuild was still under way, forcing Kline to exercise patience and get back in touch with his Ohio farmboy roots.
"I've been happy to help out with the farming, soybean harvest, some machinery repairs, fixing some windows in the barn and enjoying more time with my family," he wrote on his blog later that week.
Don Kline poses with his 1934 Pontiac, which he is driving all the way back home to Arizona. 11/6/09 (Photo: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
But Kline became increasingly anxious to get the car back to Arizona under its own steam.
Repairs were finally completed on Tuesday after he got the engine block back from Hart's Machine Shop in Cecil, Ohio.         
Saturday, he said, was to be the first day of his planned return trip in the vintage vehicle.
Kline was in Bowling Green Friday afternoon on a pre-journey dry run, pausing at City Park for a scenic photo op in his 1930s driving cap.
"Everything sounded good. I don't think I'm going to have trouble with the motor, but there's all sorts of things that can go wrong with an old car," he admitted.
His plan is to make it as far as Branson, Mo., by this evening.
His Gibsonburg brother-in-law, Richard, volunteered to ride along as far as Branson, where Kline will meet up with vacationing relatives, then leave for Tulsa, Okla.
He hopes to be back in Phoenix by Nov. 14 . . . assuming the vintage automobile gods are with him, that is.

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