A long road trip is on many car enthusiasts’ bucket lists, but when Jody Reeme spotted a 1924 Dodge Brothers roadster online, she knew she had to act.
“I’ve had this car adventure percolating for a while so when things started coming together I said, ‘This is the time to take a chance,’” she told the ClassicCars.com Journal.
A longtime employee of Northwestern University, the Wilmette, Illinois resident decided to step away from the office and into the driver’s seat.
“I actually left my job at Northwestern and I’m going to do this little adventure and, when I get back, I’m going to look for another job,” she said.
Reeme was born in Detroit and has the same birthday — July 30 — as legendary automaker Henry Ford. She said she didn’t grow up in a car-loving family, but she had long had a desire to acquire a classic.
“I’ve was always fascinated by mechanical things and I always in the back of my mind thought, ‘Someday, I’m going to buy an old car and drive it around town,’” she said.
She and her husband bought their first classic car, a 1939 Ford 4-door Deluxe, about four years ago. The couple took it to a car show and fell in love with the community. The Reemes now own 10 cars, ranging in years from the 1924 Dodge to a 1994 Mazda Miata. That doesn’t include their daily drivers, either.
When Reeme began searching for her next car, she had an inkling she may want to drive it home herself. She didn’t know she would wind up with the Dodge when she first started looking.
“I didn’t want anything like super fancy and pretentious like an old Packard,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, do I want like a station wagon from the ‘60s, a pickup truck?’ There’s a lot of different considerations as far as cargo and stuff.”
But her mind was made up when she spotted the 94-year-old patinaed car for sale at Jim’s Classic Garage in Gig Harbor, Washington. She said she called the owner and discussed if the car would be able to make the trip. It was determined it could — albeit with a touch of work. Reeme was sold.
“I’m not planning to restore the car or paint it or anything, but I did want to make sure it was safe for driving back,” she said. “It was like a scavenger hunt (to find parts).”
The roadster is mechanically all-original, save for an electric fuel pump. She had the car shipped to Molalla, Oregon for some interior work and to have a convertible top attached. That’s where she will depart from sometime in the next few days.
Reeme said she has only three rules for her trip to the Chicago suburbs: No driving on freeways, no driving at night and no driving in the rain.
“I might get stuck somewhere for a couple days,” she said, adding that the car’s mechanical brakes would prove a complication in some weather as it takes longer to bring the car to a stop.
She also planned ahead and bought some extra parts. She said that at worst, she might have to load the car on a flatbed and ship it home, but she was optimistic about the trip.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” she said. “I’m ready to go and see what happens along the way and whatever happens, I’ll have to deal with it.”
The 2,200-mile drive would likely take a couple days in a modern car, but it will take her a little bit longer. She also plans to take a more southerly route to avoid some elevation changes.
“In a regular car, you could bang it out if you wanted to in 3-4 days,” she said. “For me, I’ll be driving a maximum speed of 30 mph — that’s not an average speed — and be doing a lot of stopping along the way.”
Reeme wasn’t worried about the extra time. She plans to have friends join her along the way and wanted to use the trip to make new acquaintances.
“People don’t communicate much in person anymore,” she said. “I like meeting and talking to people.”
She set up a special Facebook page and email address — DrivingConversationsAcrossUS@gmail.com — for those looking for a lunch date, hosting a car show or who may have a couch she can sleep on for the night.
If you find yourself on a backroad between the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest and happen to spot a cool old Dodge roadster cruising along, give a wave. Reeme just might be the person who waves back.