1954 Dodge Royal

Star Car 1954 Dodge Royal Fritz Viner

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When filmmakers Josiah Laubenstein and Darrell Johnston set out to explore the Jefferson Highway, they sought the help of a family member to provide the perfect car for the trip. Johnston’s uncle Fritz Viner offered his 1954 Dodge Royal as the rolling studio for the team’s trip from Winnipeg, Manitoba to New Orleans, Louisiana as they explored the first transnational highway in North America. “Less Traveled: A Journey from Pine to Palm” chronicles the pair’s drive along the route of the 2,200 mile highway, visiting sites of the Jefferson Highway and towns that were part of the original route.

The idea for the Jefferson Highway came from Des Moines native E.T. Meredith (publisher of Successful Farming and what became Better Homes & Gardens). Meredith presented the idea at an Association of Commerce conference in November 1915. He was elected to head up the Jefferson Highway Association and tasked with plotting the 2,300 route.

Communities around the proposed route fought to be includes, and Meredith struggled to please delegates from cities. The route was finalized at a JHA meeting in December 1915.

While the film includes a great deal of historical information about the Jefferson Highway, it is the relationship between Johnston and Laubenstein, and their journey in the Royal that makes the film very enjoyable. Early in the journey, they launch into a debate about the pronunciation of the Dodge’s model name (“Is it ROY-uhl or roy-AL?”) and revel in the working AM radio.

The car will be joined by Darrell’s father Jim Johnston and information about the Jefferson Highway. The duo is planning a new film project covering the Lincoln Highway.

For more on “Less Traveled” and the filmmakers, check out their website by clicking here: http://www.highwaywalkers.com/.

  • Owner

    Fritz Viner — Iowa City , IA

    Make/Model

    1954 Dodge Royal

    Engine

    246 ci eight-cylinder