California, Here I come.

Following old Rte. 66 or Bust!

Tracking Brian Mckay in his progress along Rte 66.

Brian had shipped his Nash to Glen Ellyn, IL by Simi truck. It arrived early Monday morning of May 17, several days before Brian. Brian boarded the Empire Builder, Amtrack in Seattle WA, for Chicago, and arrived here on Wed, May 19. It has long been a desire of Brians to travel the old Rte 66 highway.

While staying in Glen Ellyn, he and his Nash visited the Cantigny War Memorial Museum and Grounds. Participated in a Nash Region meet with the Upper Mississippi River group, as we were all invited to view the auto collection of Ed Schoenthaler, owner of West Chicago's Crossroads Buick and Chevrolet. While visiting the collection, TV Producers, "Wheels TV, A Round The Block Production", Producer Charles Derer and Cameraman Roy Goodpasture did a filming of Brian and his car with our Nash group.

He drove his Nash into Chicago to photograph his car at the beginning of Rte 66. Finding no "Starting Here" sign, he chose two locations thought to have been the beginning. Sunday night Brian took in a Cubs & Cardinals game at Chicago s Wrigley Field. His first "Big League" game. On Monday the Daily Herald writer and photographer spent two hours interviewing and photographing Brain and his car.

Brian left Glen Ellyn, IL, a suburb of Chicago, on Tues May 25.

Below are some photos, and the window display posted in the Nash, telling the purpose of his re-creation, with his Dust Bowl Survivor Nash.

Also below are two Suburban Chicago Newspaper articles;

1. The Daily Herald article by Harry Hitzeman Daily Herald Staff Writer.
Sat. May 29.

2. The Herald News, Southwest Weekly, article by Mary Bernhard.
Fri. June 4.

At the bottom of the page is a link to a "Progress Reports" page.

Good morning Jim,

Someone mailed these photos to me last night.

They are the official leaving Vancouver Island, photos I guess.

Taken while boarding the Annacortes Ferry.


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"The Dust Bowl Refugee"

1930 Nash "450" Single Six Sedan,

Owned by Brian and Marie McKay, Victoria, B.C., Canada

Chassis restored: Motor, running gear, mechanical.

(Honest, look under the car if you don't believe me)

This car has been restored to represent the role that the automobile played during the Great Depression of 1929-1939. The year it represents is 1937, and the folks that owned this car have endured seven years of hard times and finally , after losing almost everything of value, they must leave the land and head west to find work and hopefully start a new live. They still have the car. Without it they would be in real trouble.

These people were NOT hillbillies. Only a few years earlier, they had been successful farmers with land, a car, good crops, money and families.

Through no fault of their own, their life was quickly affected by circumstances beyond their control and there but for the grace of God could go any one of us.

Thus, with both hope and their possessions in short supply; they headed west for the Peace River country or west to the Okanogan Valleys of British Columbia, to stat a new live. In the south Western United States the dust bowl conditions also affected the rural population and they left for the promised Land of California. THANKS TO THE AUTOMOBILE. Keep it running, keep those tires on and gas in the tank to keep going. Many present day residents in these areas can trace their own family's migration to such circumstances. The role that the automobile played is not forgotten.

THE FENDER: The front left fender of this car symbolizes the tenacity of these early people. It has been repaired nine separate times. remember - -- In 1937 rural Saskatchewan there were no paved roads. Gravel and mud and potholes were the norm and they would shake the car and eventually cause a BREAK in the fender. This owner welded it up. It BROKE again. He riveted it. It BROKE again. He welded and bolted and riveted it. It broke again. This fender was and is a symbol of those times, and is an original testimonial to the determination of the farmer who, both in the car and in his life, refused to give up.

We salute those early Canadians and hope that you enjoy this small look back to the days of the Depression in Canada that this car portrays. We certainly have.

Suburban Chicago's Daily Herald Newspaper

Time Machine

By Harry Hitzeman Daily Herald Staff Writer

Posted Saturday, May 29, 2004

If this wasn't your dad's road trip, it might have been your grandpa's.

It might have even been your great-grandpa's.

Departing from Glen Ellyn this week, a Canadian man began his journey in an antique car, seeking to re-enact the hundreds of thousands of trips families made westward on Route 66 to find work in California during the Great Depression.

"The older you get, the more you become interested in history," said Brian McKay, who turned 65 on Thursday.

McKay, a longtime resident of Victoria, British Columbia, and his 1930 Nash 450 sedan - restored to show what the car would have looked like in 1937 - will take America's back roads to Los Angeles.

"This car has preserved what was a very common sight, not at the time it was built, but at the time it was used," he said.

Part of McKay's mission stems from a lifelong desire to drive along Route 66. Another aspect is to pay tribute to people who packed everything into their cars some 70 years ago and headed west to find work and a better life.

McKay decided to make Glen Ellyn his starting point by chance, even though he began planning the trip 10 years ago.

Jim Bracewell, a Glen Ellyn resident and new membership chairman of the Nash Car Club of America, learned of McKay's plans and decided to help.

"When I heard he wanted to do this and start in Chicago, I invited him here," said Bracewell, who has two 1937 Nash cars himself.

McKay estimates the trip will take about six weeks. After he reaches California, he'll drive north along the scenic Highway 101 back to his home in Canada and his wife, Marie.

If the car doesn't make it, McKay will just buy a bus ticket home.

He found the car about 30 years ago in a barn on a small farm in Alberta, Canada. He planned to use it for parts for his other two restored Nash cars.

But then McKay looked at the heavily repaired left front fender and decided to do a different type of restoration.

"The front left fender of this car symbolizes the tenacity of these early people," McKay wrote on an 8-by-11-inch flier that he displays at car shows.

"It has been repaired nine separate times. Remember - in 1937 rural Saskatchewan there were no paved roads. Gravel and mud and potholes were the norm, and they would shake the car and eventually cause a break in the fender.

"This owner decided to weld it up. It broke again. He riveted it. It broke again. He welded and bolted and riveted it. It broke again. This fender was, and is, a symbol of those times, and is an original testimonial to the determination of the farmer, who, both in the car and his life, refused to give up," he wrote.

Over several years, McKay rebuilt the car's chassis, engine and other mechanical parts.

As for the exterior, he worked hard to replicate what it would have looked like in 1937, which, he said, was one of the worst years of the Depression.

His goal was to make it drive-able, but, at the same time, keep ambiance and aura of the era.

Bracewell said the car - dubbed "The Dust Bowl Refugee" - has turned plenty of heads at Nash shows across the country.

"There's a lot of labor and love in that," he said. "This is the nostalgia part for us."

McKay hopes to drive about 100 miles per day. The six-cylinder car gets about 10 miles per gallon.

He will take all back roads since topping 40 mph could shatter the car's wooden tire rims. The top speed is about 35 mph.

"Thirty miles per hour is its sweet spot," he said.

McKay has tackled every conceivable aspect of making his car historically accurate.

He studied a photograph of a weathered Nash by Dorothea Lange, known for her work showing the human hardship during the Great Depression and migration of people to California.

He found old stoves, pots and pans and even a wagon to attach to the Nash's tailgate, and thus match the historic photo.

McKay also will re-create the trip under 1930s conditions. That means no restaurants, no hotels and definitely no cell phone.

He will make one exception to keep in touch with family and friends: He will stop at local libraries to send out e-mails of his progress.

Keeping true to the 1930s means every night McKay will pitch a small tent that branches off the Nash's side.

In the morning, he'll make his pancakes from scratch using a 1920s-era kerosene stove.

At lunch, he won't hit the McDonald's drive-through. He'll likely pull over and fix something to eat and maybe snap a photo with his antique camera.

McKay has collected license plates, all from 1937, from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico. At each state line, he plans to switch plates on the front of his Nash.

For example, when he makes it to Iowa, he'll put on his old Illinois plate to show he's headed west. When he hits Kansas, he'll throw on the Iowa plate.

And the hand-held Global Positioning System? Forget it.

McKay has a collection of old maps from each state he will pass through. And they're all from 1937.

"He's trying so hard to depict this era, he won't even put plastic on his mattress (so it won't get wet on the roof during rain)," Bracewell said.

McKay estimates he's spent about $15,000 on his project. That may seem like a lot, but McKay says happiness is in the journey, not the destination.

"This type of restoration isn't measured in dollars," he said. "It's an experience."

The Herald News

Southwest Weekly

Joliet, IL.

Friday, June 4, 2004

By Mary Bernhard

Brian McKay of Victoria, British Columbia is living out a dream by stepping back in time to 1937.

McKay, who is a retired building contractor collects and restores Nash cars. His love of the car has made him many friends as a member of the Nash Car Club of America.

Many in the Elwood, Wilmington and Braidwood area had the pleasure of seeing McKay drive his old 1930 Nash with its wooden spokes and wood panel doors as he followed the old Route 66 Highway beginning his journey across the United States.

""Originally, I bought this car for parts,'' McKay stated. ""I looked at it and you know, there is something about a rusty old car, they deserve to be on the road too.''

McKay refurbished only the engine and mechanical parts of the old Nash which had just turned over 79,000 miles. ""This car looks just like what a 1930 Nash would look like in 1937 in the heart of the depression years. However, mechanically, she is sound.''

McKay and his Nash aren't just driving the route that many depression era people did back in '37 searching for a better life in the west, he is living it.

While on the trip, there will be no hotels or motels for McKay. He showed off how he rigged a lean-to tent to his car, had an old roll up mattress from a depression era bed, even a 1926 kerosene stove to cook on at his nightly campground stops.

""It wasn't easy to leave for two months,'' McKay stated. ""My wife of 38 years knows my interest in the depression and in the car. They go together.''

The trip is something McKay, who is in his late 60's, has always wanted to do. Recently he was laid up with a bad hip for months. ""I thought to myself, is this it? Is this the rest of my life?'' He then had hip replacement surgery which turned out to be a huge success. ""I was so happy. I told myself, I better do what I want to get done while I have my health and a second chance.

McKay had the car delivered from British Columbia via flat bed truck to a fellow Nash club member in Chicago. He started out in the morning at Jackson and Michigan Street, exactly where Route 66 began.

Considering the car tops out at 25 mph, getting to Braidwood by 1 p.m. was making good time.

When asked if he planned to write a book about his journey, he stated no. ""It's just something I want to do.''

At this point three Braidwood police cars pulled in, checked our I.D.'s and asked us to move on. It was only then McKay and I realized we were at the back door of a nuclear plant with cameras out. All of us laughed. ""You two are making security nervous in there,'' one officer stated. McKay asked if he could take a picture of the police and their cars before he moved on, which he did. "This will be one story for home!"

Click here for - Reported Progress along the route;

Return to NASH home page.