Colorado Front Range rambling

Colorado Front Range rambling

THOUGH HE'S LOGGED some incognito years on the shaded two-lane roads of the Pacific Northwest, and rolled many an empty highway undercover in Montana and Wyoming, I can tell that, in the city, Clyde commands the attention he deserves. The turnpikes of Colorado's Front Range are crowded with blue-collar sorts who appreciate Detroit craftsmanship and Clyde's particular brand of patina. In suburbia, Clyde turns just as many heads of yoga-pant-wearing soccer moms as he does dive-bar patrons. Marooned for the winter in Denver, Clyde needed one last chance to stretch all 460 cubic inches of big block before the cold really sets in. So, on a crisp November Saturday I rounded up my funemployed fishing guide friend, George, and pointed Clyde south for Pueblo, the oft-forgotten southern bookend to human sprawl at the foot of the Rockies, for a little tailwater fishing.

Clyde hits the Bighorn

“THIS IS A SWEET CAR,” said the friendly sheriff of Hardin, Montana (population 3,500-ish), who’d just pulled us over for a burnt-out headlight. After promising to replace the light (Fat chance!), he let us roll on with no questions asked. (Which was damn lucky on our part, because if we’d have had to find any sort of official papers in that glovebox…)

Three years with Clyde.

Clyde should be dead by now.

He was pronounced dead. More than once, in fact. In February 2012, a Salt Lake wrencher put a $1,200 tranny in him and said, “He might make it through March.” In November of that same year, driver Steven Hawley emailed: “Clyde’s 460 is shot. Best quote for a rebuild here is $1,395.” It’s fun going back and reading old emails from Clyde’s drivers, many of them frantic. But some of the best ones came not from drivers, but from fishermen who’d stumbled across Clyde on a river somewhere. My favorite, from a man named Jason Koertge: “Was walking out of one of my go-to Oregon Coast runs a few days ago and lo and behold, there sat Clyde. Nice camp those guys had, but it’s complete bullshit their cooler didn’t have any beer in it.” Clyde’s engine was never rebuilt. And the cooler is still empty. But I’m sure Clyde’s co-owner, RA Beattie, still shares my opinion that he was the best investment either of us ever made.

Keeping it Classy with Clyde

How to get skunked and befriend a cop

I wasn’t too concerned about the highway patrolman until I had to start digging under the seats for a piece of sharpened rebar. Then I thought I might go to jail. We were somewhere between Boise and Island Park, trying to get to Bozeman.

Naked Gun

One driver's desperate decision

CLYDE HAS A FLAT. I can see it from the boat ramp of Montana's Bitterroot River. The front of the old Merc is sloping toward the passenger side, and while I'm happy to discover that there's a spare in the trunk, I'm unhappy to discover that the jack is missing its handle. I'm unhappy again when I throw the flat and my waders into the trunk and slam it shut, locking Clyde's only set of keys inside.

I'd hoped that a call to a locksmith would bring a quick solution, but the man on the other end of the line couldn't help. "I'm about six beers deep already, and I don't really feel like leaving. Know what I'm sayin?"

Ride with Clyde IX

Goodbye to the Evergreen State

Photos and words by Lucas Young

There’s a fine line in winter steelheading between bliss and torment. If there was no hope for the first, there’d be little incentive to endure the latter. Riding in Clyde is a bit like that. In summer, he’s warm and smooth and stylish—blissful, even. But in February, with the wind whistling through all the gaps in his weatherstripping, the dull roar allows little room for your own thoughts. It’ll make you tougher, at least.