BRENTWOOD -- Despite many detours along the way, what kept car enthusiast Blaine Dehmlow traveling steadily on his East Coast-to-West Coast solo road trip in a stock 1931 Chevrolet was the promise of being reunited with his wife and 13- and 17-year-old daughters for Christmas this week.

"I'm on my own holiday homecoming quest, missing my two girls and wife intensely already, but feeling equally drawn to being alone on the road in the old Independence," Dehmlow posted online during his trip that began on Dec. 7 and ended on Sunday at his home in Brentwood.

Dehmlow bought the Depression-era car in Boston three months ago for $4,500 and spent the fall putting it together and preparing it for the solo driving trip to the Bay Area. He even drove through the recent winter storm in Boston with basic tools, some spares, a credit card, a phone and hotel reward points for lodging.

"In 1931, you would drive through that storm and get home for Christmas," Dehmlow said of his appreciation for that era. "'I'll Be Home for Christmas' was my motto for the trip."

The car was originally owned by a doctor in Boston, then sold to his neighbor and used as a daily vehicle until it was stored for many years, according to Dehmlow. Its engine was refurbished 20 years ago, and it has a new top, clutch, aluminum radiator, tires and wiring. The steering box was rebuilt.

Dehmlow, 49, noted that 1 million of these cars were produced in 1931.

"America was amazing in terms of manufacturing at that time. I am enamored with that era," he said. "Working with your hands was valued at that time."

Dehmlow combined his classic hobby with modern times by frequently communicating with members of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America via an online forum. Fellow club members whom he had never met offered him free meals, technical advice and even parts.

When the Chevrolet had a broken axle in Kentucky, Dehmlow obtained the part from a club member in Ohio by using a rental car.

"This was a mix of the old and new. It is their chance to participate," he said. "There has always been a brotherhood or kinship among fellow car enthusiasts."

On his route, he headed south from Boston and then started west near North Carolina, traveling between 37 and 49 mph at top speeds. His slow rate of speed drew both positive and negative attention from fellow motorists, and his next mission is to travel north to south in a classic car.

One of Dehmlow's most loyal followers on the club forum was Seattle resident Bill Barker, who is the club's webmaster.

"The club has struggled with realizing that times are changing," Barker said of Internet and social media participation. "Blaine is the target membership that we want to achieve."

Dehmlow said the start of his journey was exciting but the slush and cold weather made it equally nerve-racking. He finally reached better travel conditions near Oklahoma, and his confidence grew.

Among the highlights of the road trip were traveling along Route 66 and meeting with fellow car collectors, he added.

Although Dehmlow's 1931 Chevrolet was never a show car, fellow enthusiasts tried to persuade him to restore the classic, which he estimates would cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

"I'm hoping for a new age of drivers in classic collectors," he said. "At the end of (the journey), (driving) felt very natural. Now, it feels like my family car."

Cross-COuntry Journey

To check out Blaine Dehmlow's travel notes on this road trip, go to http://vcca.org.