I purchased this 1963 Buick Skylark Convertible in Portland, OR last April after seeing the car for sale in Auto Round-Up. I'm a musician and I'd created a story for a music video for my song, 'On The Highway', which called for a classic car. I looked at rental options, but they seemed pricey and I could redirect those funds towards a purchase and have something to be proud of and share with family afterwards. I always dreamed of owning a classic car and this pink beauty was truly love at first sight. I dubbed her 'Penelope'.
My goal was to drive the 1,000 miles to Los Angeles to meet the director, shoot the video and then return home. Please let me reiterate that I'm a musician and not a mechanic. In other words, I'm not the brightest guy in the world when it comes to car-related issues; i.e., things I should be aware of.
I was excited to pick Penelope up and observe the improvements which were to be done by the dealer in prepping her for the journey. While things externally were excellent, I realized there were items internally which were not completed as I hit the road. For example, the speedometer and the interior dashboard lights were not working. Hence, I was going to have to drive by feel, and gauge my speed to other cars on the highway and shine a light on the dash as it got dark to check my fuel level. I of course strove to eliminate this problem by avoiding night driving
Thus, I proudly and not too brightly pulled away, still infatuated with Penelope and excited by driving a lovely piece of Americana down the coast. A couple hours south of Portland, I hit the mountains which take you from Oregon into California, and it was snowing hard. My bare knuckles gripped the wheel. I knew this was not the place or conditions for this car. 18-wheelers flew by, and I imagined the site of this pink Buick plodding up the pass; in one way it was comical but in another, this was how folks got around 50 years ago. If it was good enough then, why not now?
After that mountain pass, I cruised down the I-5 and Penelope loved it. She seemed to sail through the vineyards and orchards of Central California effortlessly. The sun shone, people smiled and honked at the car and I felt Penelope had found her natural habitat. She seemed to just drive herself.
Then we hit LA traffic, but it wasn't too bad. I found the director's home and he was pleased with the vehicle he was going to film. We then prepared our work. On Day two, we would head into the California desert to shoot some highway scenes.
The trouble hit on that second day as, boom! A cylinder blew as an oil leak had sprung. Smoke billowed out the air vents; we were scared and upset. The fortunate part was that we were near a turn-off to a community, and so we limped the car off to a gas station. Just an hour prior, we wandered the desert by Edwards Air Force Base looking for an idyllic mountain backdrop to film. If Penelope had broke down there with no community about, we would've been in major trouble.
Some friendly locals in Rosamond gave us a hand and we left the vehicle with a mechanic who worked at Edwards A.F.B. Prior to this setback, we did some excellent work shooting, but were obviously dejected by the reality of our situation and the fact we couldn't finish our shoot. We committed to doing so once Penelope was ready to roll again.
The car was transferred to Palmdale and repairs were made. Five weeks later, I flew down to meet the director and finish this project. We were lucky in that everyone involved in the shoot was still available and willing. We were going to complete this.
So we did. Penelope drove like a dream. It was a costly error on my part, but I learned from it. Our team worked hard to complete the shoot and I felt the director did a wonderful job capturing the spirit of the shoot and then telling the story in the final edits.
At the end of the day, Penelope got home, better than before and hotter than ever. The trials in completing our video made the work ever more satisfying.
Here is my music video of "On The Highway" that included the 1963 Buick Skylark that I purchased from Auto Round-Up.