Route 66: The TV Series

Map of Route 66, The Mother Road of America
Map of Route 66, The Mother Road, seen in this vintage postcard

Route 66 was one of the United State's first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west.

"The Mother Road" became one of the most famous roads in the United States, outdistancing others such as the Lincoln Highway.

The legendary highway was known far and wide for its variety of "mom and pop" motels, neon lights, drive-ins, quirky roadside attractions, flat tires, cars with no air conditioning, dangerous curves, steep hills, and narrow lanes.

The movie "Easy Rider" was filmed at several locations along Route 66. The move "Thelma and Louise" also featured Route 66 references and scenes.

It is popular lore in movies, songs, books like "The Grapes of Wrath", and TV shows.

Buz and Tod of the TV show Route 66
Tod and Buz
(By CBS, or Screen Gems)

The popularity stuck, and continues to grow today!

Route 66: The TV Show

A popular television show during the early 1960s bore the road's name: "Route 66". Starring George Maharis as Buz, and Martin Milner as Tod, the two young adventurers drove the road in their Chevrolet Corvette for 116 episodes. It ran on Friday nights on CBS Television.

In 1963, Glenn Corbett joined the series, playing the part of Lincoln "Linc" Case.

Despite the name of the series, most episodes did NOT take place on the historic road, but in 25 different U.S. states, mostly on location. TV viewers were treated to episodes filmed in Carson City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Santa Fe, Reno, Tucson, Dallas and many more locales.

A long list of well-known actors and actresses appeared on the series, including Ed Asner, Peter Lorre, Barbara Eden, Jack Lord, Cloris Leachman, Martin Sheen, James Caan, Lee Marvin and dozens more.

Buz, Tod and a girl friend on the Corvette ... on the TV Series Route 66

 

The Route 66 Characters

Martin Milner starred as Tod Stiles, a recent college graduate with no future prospects due to circumstances beyond his control. He was originally joined on his travels by Buz Murdock (played by George Maharis), a friend and former employee of his father, with the character leaving midway through the third season after contracting "echovirus".

Buz made his final appearance in a January 1963 episode and was then written out of the show, and was never referenced again.

Near the end of the third season, Tod met a recently discharged Vietnam veteran named Lincoln Case, played by Glenn Corbett, who followed Tod on his travels and stayed with him until the final episode.

Martin Milner on the TV show "Route 66" George Maharis on the TV show "Route 66"

 

The show ran from October, 1960, through March, 1964, and created a huge following.

The interest in the show continues today by "Baby Boomers" who remember the original showings, and new generations of viewers fascinated by the show who watch it on DVD.

Buz and Tod in the Corvette on the TV series Route 66 Buz and Tod in the Corvette on the TV series Route 66

 

The Chevrolet Corvette on the TV show "Route 66"

 

The Route 66 Corvettes

The Chevrolet Corvette seen in the first episode ("Black November", October 7, 1960) was a 1960 model; a 1961 model was used the rest of that season. Chevrolet supplied Corvettes for the duration of the series, upgrading every season to the latest models.

Since the show was filmed in black-and-white, Corvettes in light colors like Horizon Blue, Cascade Green and Fawn Beige were used.

Buz and Tod next to their Horizon Blue Corvette on the TV series "Route 66"
Buz and Tod next to their blue Corvette on the TV series "Route 66"

 

More Corvette Convertibles on Route 66

While many viewers assumed the Corvette in the Route 66 TV series was red, it was not.

However, the popularity of Corvette convertibles, especially red ones, lives on! Many actual cars and murals exist today along the old Route 66 depicting those happy days along the Mother Road.

Corvette Drive at Hackberry, Arizona, between Seligman and Kingman on U.S. Route 66
Corvette Drive at Hackberry, Arizona, between Seligman and Kingman on U.S. Route 66

The "Red Corvette and the Ladies" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico
The "Red Corvette and the Ladies" mural in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Route 66 Mural Park
Joplin, Missouri

Shown here is the mural in downtown Joplin, Missouri at Pearl Brothers Hardware Store, featuring a red Chevrolet Corvette. This is only one of many murals painted throughout the downtown area. 

The Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin features two nostalgic murals and an oversized 45-record imprint of "Get Your Kicks on Route 66".

Route 66 Mural Park in downtown Joplin, Missour

Another red Corvette mural in Joplin, Missouri, along with a green '57 Chevrolet
Red Corvette and green 1957 Chevrolet mural in Joplin, Missouri

Mural with a red Corvette in Fanning, Missouri, 5 miles west of Cuba, painted on the side of the Fanning Route 66 Outpost General Store
Mural with a red Corvette in Fanning, Missouri, 5 miles west of Cuba, painted on the side of the Fanning Route 66 Outpost General Store

Route 66 Barber Shop in Springfield, Missouri
Route 66 Barber Shop in Springfield, Missouri

El Reno, Oklahoma

Mural in El Reno, Oklahoma, the Crossroads of America on Route 66, featuring a red Chevrolet Corvette convertible

Mural in El Reno, Oklahoma ... the Crossroads of America



Mural in Kingman, Arizona, with a red Corvette and blue pickup truck
Mural in Kingman, Arizona

Touring Route 66 by Auto or RV

On Route 66 in the 1957 Chevy Bel Air
Some used to drive Route 66 in the 1960s in a Corvair ... and later years loved driving this 1957 Chevy Bel Air!

Different people choose different modes of transportation to tour the Mother Road. While some elect guided bus tours, or drive their own vehicles, others seek new destinations in their RV or motor home.

And for those that don't own an RV yet, companies like Cruise America, El Monte RV Rentals, Road Bear RV Rentals, and Camping World offer a variety of RV sizes and rental plans.

So, whether you are driving Route 66 in a restored Corvette convertible, another 1950s classic, or a sleek new SUV, enjoy the road trip!

Touring Route 66 by Motorcycle

Get your motor running! Get out on the highway!

Many travelers on Route 66 rent motorcycles to seek new open-air adventures on their USA road trip!

Motorcycles at the Classy Ass, Oatman, Arizona, on Route 66
Motorcycles at the Classy Ass, Oatman, Arizona, on Route 66

A variety of motorcycle rental plans are available, such as those from Eaglerider Motorcycle Rentals.

Out West, your motorcycle can be picked up at a number of rental locations in Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. If you are starting your Route 66 trip further north, motorcycle pickup locations in Illinois are available.

Model options are plentiful, and cycles from manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson and Indian are available. Trikes can also be rented.

If you don't want to ride independently, choose from one of many guided motorcycle tours. Self-drive tours often include rental of the motorcycle, hotel reservations and detailed tour route information.

Some companies offer one-way rentals, hotel pickups, luggage storage, helmets and other amenities.

Taking a Ride on Route 66?

Route 66 on Motorcycle

Route 66 Road Trip by Motorcycle

 

The Demise of Route 66

Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments during its lifetime. The passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956 sounded the death knell for the old road, and gradually segments were replaced with new, safer and faster superhighways.

Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see, on Route 66
Standin on a Corner, in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see ... on Route 66

Its final demise was the completion of the Interstate Highway System. The last town by-passed by the Interstate system was Williams, Arizona, on October 13, 1984.

Subsequently, U.S. Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985.

Route 66 was replaced by five Interstates: I-55 southbound from Chicago, I-44 across Missouri and Oklahoma, I-40 in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, I-15 and finally I-10 into Los Angeles.

Route 66 Today

Today, several states recognize the historical significance of the road, and have it marked with "66" in the state highway number. "Historic Route 66 Associations" are active in several states.

The road is also a major tourist attraction, so many states openly market attractions and lodging along the old route.

The old road still traverses dozens of small towns with vintage gas stations, quirky tourist attractions, diners, "Mop & Pop" motels, historic sites & museums, stunning vistas, and gift shops.

Road Trip Travel Guides for Various States Along Route 66

Planning a road trip on Route 66? Here are the travel guides and reviews by state...

Route 66 in Missouri Route 66 in Texas Route 66 Across Arizona Route 66 Across New Mexico
Route 66 Road Trips Across Oklahoma Route 66 Road Trips in Illinois Route 66 Across California Route 66 in Kansas

 

Route 66: The Song

The Rusty Bolt in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66
The Rusty Bolt in Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66

The song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" was composed by songwriter Bobby Troup in 1946.

It was first recorded by Nat King Cole, and sung by other singers over the years including Chuck Berry, Perry Como, and the Rolling Stones.

If you ever plan to motor west,
travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
It winds from Chicago to LA,
more than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Now you go through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri,
and Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.
Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

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