In 1985, Wayne Baldwin (an SCCA Pro-Rally driver of a 142 sedan) asked me (mostly a motion sick navigator), if I’d like to “tag along” with him, a journalist, and a brand new 745 Turbo wagon for something called a “Cannonball Run.” How dumb of me if I refuse – how dumb of me to say yes.
We were equipped with a truly first-generation cell phone; briefcase size, and had to negotiate with each cell site provider in each town we passed through. We had one of HP’s first laptops to run calculations for Time/Speed/Distance. Radar detectors were not allowed in certain states, so we built a receiver into the front turn signal housing, and had one in a first aid kit pointing out our back door. The head unit was behind a false radio and best of all, a hidden cut off switch for brake lights. Talking with other driving crews, they all had nasty tricks up their sleeves far better than ours.
Here’s our story written by Azzenza that we used for our Via Volvo magazine. The 745 in the snow photo is about 95 percent accurate:
Out on Highway 80 somewhere near Bozeman, Mont., over half the drivers said the snowstorm was too much, so they pleaded with race officials to cancel that leg. We filled our bellies with chips and dip, Cokes and water and headed north. What Anthony Assenza didn’t fully capture in the article was our driving at 120 miles per hour across snow-covered roads, hogging the center lane to give us a few seconds to contemplate our demise should something go wrong.
Heading over Logan Pass, roadside snowdrifts were a good eight feet high. Wayne took that leg (awesome rally driver), and promptly blew by a State Trooper heading the other way. As we headed into White Fish – a town empty at 5 a.m. and probably most of any hour – in the middle of their main street is a trooper waving us over. We were told to wait. About 45 minutes later another trooper pulled up, Wayne was reaching for our cash stash and our trooper friend asked us if we were, “part of that rally.” The arriving trooper was covered in mud and looked madder than fire ants on a kill run, and Wayne asked what we did wrong. “You boys flew by me, I swung around, blew out a tire and had to change it. Now I’m going to show you out of my town and don’t come back.” He did and we didn’t. Then there’s the time I drove between two posts holding up a highway sign in Texas while driving a tad too fast…but that’s another story.
We’ve made wagons ever since being in the U.S. market and have plans to continue into our future. Others have come and gone and we see new ones coming this year. Wagons are Volvo. I, along with our PR group, have driven the devil out of them in Vermont, Alaska and Mexico; they are tough haulers. Anyway, a friend sent this piece over and thought you might enjoy some wagon history.