It was decommissioned from the U.S. Highway System more than 20 years ago, but U.S. 66 apparently hasn't lost its allure. In fact, it seems the road has developed something of an international reputation as a place where you can still get your kicks.
Next month, a horde of European antique car lovers will be hitting the storied asphalt to find out for themselves. On May 9, the owners of 70 antique Jaguars will gather in Chicago to begin a nostalgic 12-day antique automobile rally through the American heartland on Route 66. Members of the Jaguar Daimler Club of Holland will follow a route that "winds from Chicago to L.A., more than 2,000 miles all the way," according to the 1946 pop classic "Get Your Kicks on Route 66."
But the Jaguars' jour ney—part of the club's 30th anniversary com memoration—actually begins at the Port of Rotterdam, where the vintage Jaguars will be loaded onto vessels in APL's westbound Atlantic service to New York. Two cars each will be placed into 40-foot APL contain ers for the 10-day voyage.
The first vessel laden with antique Jaguars sailed from Rotterdam March 1. The last one departed March 30. Timing is crucial if the 70 Jaguar owners are to arrive at Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles May 27 at the end of their rally.
"APL has more history and experience in transportation than even these antique autos have," says Marc van der Linden of Marlog Car Handling BV in Almere, the Netherlands, the company that's overseeing the cars' packing and transport. "That's why we're entrusting our delicate cargo to them."
APL, however, is not taking the responsibility lightly. "Handling shipments for the auto industry is routine business for us at APL," concedes Ken O'Brien, director of APL's trans-Atlantic trade. "These shipments, however, are far from routine."