Louis and the guys at the facility helped us find some tight grommets and a seal for the power-steering reservoir. After 650 miles, there were only a few minor concerns and within an hour we were on the road again.
We hoped to be there by sundown Saturday, but that was wishful thinking. First, the rains came on I-20 in east Texas, then a jackknifed 18-wheeler caused more delay. The '65 windshield seal was leaking massive amounts of water in the car. While we waited for the 18-wheeler to be moved off the Interstate, the floorboards and carpet were getting soaked.
Once we were underway, we had to find a rest stop and bail the water. Ironically, we had just put all the missing plugs in the floorboards before the new carpet went in. No wonder the plugs were removed.
We made it into Arlington a little after midnight on Sunday, and were up at 7 a.m. for the first leg of the Power Tour. For this kind of driving, the GMPP Ram-Jet crate engine was impressive, but the four-speed Muncie was pure agony. After we left Mississippi, we were traveling steadily at 75-80 mph and 4,000 rpm. At first my ears became bloody from the constant roar, followed by a trance-like state from the noise.
Constantly stopping and paying for fuel was another aggravation. The '90 Corvette convertible was getting almost double the fuel mileage. The '65 averaged 16 mpg with most of the miles driven on the Interstate. I absolutely loved the '65 in city driving and hated every minute of Interstate driving with the car set up like it was.
We gladly handed the keys to Shafi Keisler knowing the car would be driven each leg of the first half of the Power Tour with the four-speed in place. Almost immediately, Shafi called and said the throttle wasn't working. The cable end had broken off the cable at the throttle body.
A fellow HRPT participant had a wire terminal that could be crimped onto the cable for a temporary repair. Shafi was back on the way enjoying the first leg with his '65 coupe. During each leg, the car was driven and fuel mileage was calculated. The first half netted 15.5 average miles per gallon.
The Keisler-modified five-speed Tremec overdrive transmission was installed at the Gateway International Raceway facility in St. Louis for the final half of the fuel mileage run. The installation took about five hours in difficult conditions, but we had the advantage of prior Tremec five-speed installations, which moved things along. The job wasn't too difficult with the correct tools and equipment.
What a spectacular difference! The engine speed was down to 2,400 rpm at 80 mph and the driveline sound level was low enough to have a conversation with a passenger. Now we could run with the Interstate crowd without constantly redlining our engine. Best of all, the fuel mileage was averaging 26 mpg.
We had a great time driving the '65 on our return. We brought the coupe up to Interstate speed, slipped the overdrive transmission into Fifth gear, and let it roll. We could hear the radio, but could hear the wind noise leaks as well. We brought the car back to Sanford, Florida, to reseal all the windows and water leaks.
We logged 4,500 miles from Sanford to Arlington to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and back to Sanford. The GMPP Ram-Jet crate engine, Keisler modified five-speed Tremec overdrive transmission, Vintage Air Frontrunner accessory drive kit, and Vintage Air A/C installation kit made the '65 drive and feel like a late-model Corvette.