STOP EVERYTHING: ROAD TRIPPIN’ BURMA

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Our friends over at Hemmings just posted this ultimate roadtrip of roadtrips: BURMA! Or Myanmar, depending on how old you are.

We’ve always had a special place in our black little hearts for car culture as it manifests itself in other parts of the world – and the more remote and weird, the better. And what could be more remote than a country that’s been shut off from the outside world for a generation? Right: BURMA, son! Belgian guy named Bruno Leunen has been working with his Burmese wife to navigate what we can only imagine as incredibly difficult waters with the Myanmar government to make this 17-day Burma Road Classic a reality. A $21,500 reality, but when are you gonna get a chance to roadtrip Burma, while staying at several of the rare hotels in-country and do even cooler shit like hot-air ballooning among hundreds of temple spires? Hell, at $13.65/mile, everything is taken care of for you once you get yourself to Rangoon. But bring your own spare parts and favorite traveling tool bag.

Now, while you’re digging into Bruno’s website and the backyard pool fund that you’ll no doubt decimate with this trip slated for November, we’re already trying to figure out which car we’ll campaign (if we can find the cake to do it). With the pre-1970 cutoff for cars, it puts the right kind of restraint on us that always produces more creativity. Here’s what we’d do:

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1959 Edsel
During the glory days of Baja racing, fringe characters were attracted to the sport because of its balls-out reputation and glorious backdrop. And you know what happens when fringe-droppers mix with automotive racing…that’s right: Edsel baja cars! And if we’re going to Burma, we’re gonna go ahead and take the leap that the roads ain’t all paved with gold. Or paved at all, for that matter. And we’d really like the Burmese to trip out on the pinnacle of mid-century American automotive design. So, a ’59 Edsel will do just fine, thank you very much. Why a ’59? Because the ’58 was an anomaly: the cross-reference catalog for a ’58 is just a single sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardstock with “You’re shit outta luck” in 10pt Futura in the middle of it. But in ’59, the Edsel became more of a gussied-up ’59 Ford and there are plenty of drivetrain parts we can load the truck up with before we leave. If we lose the horse collar, we’ve got a spare at home, but can’t imagine trying to find Teletouch parts in Myanmar.

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1964 Mercury Comet
We love the Comet for its compact size and the 289 c.i. V8/5-lug wheel combo it could be trimmed in. And a 4-speed toploader wouldn’t hurt for the Burma trip, either. These things were campaigned on dragstrips, hill climbs and the circle tracks of the Sixties and a nose-up frontend with a moderately geared 9-inch in the back will do the job. What we’ll give up in trunk space for spare parts and tools, we’ll gain in balance and agility with a well-tuned suspension and at least disks in the front. Think we’ll need a set of cutouts, too – just to let everyone know what’s coming as we get within earshot of the hotel each night.

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1955 Chevy Nomad
Burma? 17-day roadtrip? Unknown road conditions? Unknown distance between gas stations? Hell, gas stations? A first-year Nomad would do nicely, thanks. Lots of room for parts and fuel cans. We might even go full Brock Yates on this thing and just fill the back with a cargo area-sized onboard fuel cell and double up on the rear leaf springs. Maybe a 396 and an automatic with a new Currie 9-inch and a backseat that can fold down for the unexpected four-legged sidekick or big-ticket souvenirs that we wanna bring home. Or at least go pick up the groceries when necessary, right?

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1952 Kaiser-Frazer Henry J
Now look: we’re not adding a Henry J to this list just because we have one. Well, OK, that’s actually true. But the J is also well-known for its light weight, ginormous cargo area beneath the decklid and bare-bone simplicity. We’ve got a complete 289 and a C-4 that we’re working on wedging between the fenders and we think it’d be a perfect candidate for a post-WWII weird American marque to round out lord-only-knows what kind of Euro styles will be repped hard on this road rally. But we’d love to see the faces when we show up in a Henry J lowered just a skosh on a set of decent big-n-little radials. With plaid seat covers. And a busted taillight if we can’t find a replacement by November. Sheesh.

We can’t imagine a better road rally than The Burma Road Classic. We’re gonna set the intern to finding just the right benefactor to put up the cake for this thing and make a documentary film about the excursion, too. Really, now – a trip like this needs some old American tin representin’ and we’re up to that kind of challenge.

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