24 March 2017

Answer of the Week: These are the worst cars for road trips

We love road trips. Exploring new vistas. Reliving favorite childhood journeys. Trying out a latest purchase. Any excuse is good enough to hit the road. Our choice of vehicle has an enormous effect on the quality of the trip, however. Some cars are better at certain things, aren’t they? And some are truly horrible at long-distance drives.

On Monday we asked you, via Facebook, “What’s the worst car to take a road trip in?” Your answers followed three veins: small cars, high performance cars, and trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

Bart McGrath led the charge against small cars by calling out the “1997 Chevy Crapalier.” Clearly, it did something to earn his scorn but we’re left to wonder what. But Bill Bloomfield left no doubt about the 1970 Jackal Dune Buggy he drove haltingly from Nantucket, Mass., to Syracuse, N.Y. “No heat, wrapped in a sleeping bag. The carb froze a few times in western Massachusetts and we had to stop and let it thaw before proceeding.”

Ross Bickerton mentioned a ’73 Volkswagen Super Beetle, although it seemed his problems stemmed from his companions more than the car: “Toronto to Cape Cod (Mass.) and back… with three guys (two of them over 6’4”) and all of their luggage and tents crammed in.” We could’ve predicted that a few VWs would make this list but were surprised by the high percentage (over 10 percent) of Smart Car mentions.

It’s only 185 miles from Yuma, Ariz., to Phoenix, hardly a long road trip, but it was plenty long enough for Bob Mahood. “In a Smart Fortwo without cruise control it was/is my limit.” Carter Deven Stokoe took the small car theme to an extreme by suggesting the Peel P-50. That’s not a bad road trip car, it’s masochism.

You also mentioned lots of high performance cars. Small ones especially, like the Lotus Elise. Dimi Tron said his was “unbearable after four hours.” As for supercars? “No luggage space, uncomfortable, bad gas mileage,” opined Juan Carlos. “I mean why? Take an SUV or at least a big sedan.”

Reggie Horning, Hagerty Licensed Sales Agent, disagrees, claiming that trucks are a poor choice. “We had a 1982 GMC One-ton 4WD truck that I used to drive back and forth to school, a three-hour drive. It was rough. It felt more like six hours.” And John Halter, Jr., simply said “Jeep CJ5.” We feel your pain, John — tire and wind noise are miserable over long stretches, and that short wheelbase doesn’t help.

Some of you didn’t name a specific type of vehicle, but rather described other things that are sure to make your life miserable out on the road. “Any vehicle that’s low on oil, equipped with bad tires, or has an empty gas tank,” offered Mark Huber. Bryce Iliff added, “Any high-profile vehicle so that I have to fight the wind.” And we’re not sure what Adam Rodriguez has endured but he said, “Any car that has my mother as a passenger.” We’ll take his word for it.

49 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Tracker D North Carolina March 29, 2017 at 17:14
    In 1973, while serving in the Navy stationed in Charleston, SC, I purchased a Triumph TR6. Loved the car driving in and around Charleston, but for some reason decided to drive it across country to Albuquerque, NM to visit relatives. Small bucket seats, legs in a tunnel, pedals skewed to the right, and the comfort of driving a sports car almost made me decide to abandon it in NM and fly back to Charleston. But I didn't. I still remember that trip.
  • 2
    Steve O'Hare Raymond , Nebraska March 29, 2017 at 17:16
    In 1969 I drove my 1929 model a pickup from Lincoln NE, to Portland OR in February. Not much heat, had to clean the gas line several times, but it was a trip that I will never forget. Still have the pickup and my wife and I still enjoy it, we drove it back in 1971 after we got married and she will not let me sell it or any of my other old vehicles
  • 3
    Tom Taylor Portland, OR March 29, 2017 at 17:48
    I find this to be an interesting topic in which I'm obviously 180 degrees opposed to the mainstream. I have had numerous cross country journeys in two cars, each back in the 1970s. The first, a used beater 1967 Jaguar E-Type roadster, I drove with my brother from Connecticut to Nevada with only one hotel stop. The rest of the time, we shared the driving. We had snow skis on a rack, and I had all my belongings for my freshman year in college stuffed in the "boot" without a suitcase. I wired in the first cassette deck ever offered--"Carsette by Tenna"--and also installed headphone jacks. Seriously. This was over ten years before the first Sony Walkman. In Wyoming, Montana and Nevada, there was no speed limit, so we dropped the "hood" and cruised routinely at 140 MPH with headphones. Talk about a cerebral experience. Note that the car was great, other than it ran pretty darn hot, which made us sleepy. What made the trip difficult was that we had only four prerecorded tapes, so we were absolutely SICK of the music by the time we reached Chicago. I went to college in Colorado, so that same Jag went from California to Colorado and back numerous times. One trip, I was with a college pal and my dog Sandy, a whippet, who easily coiled up on a lap or in the passenger footwell. I drove the Jag one last time from Colorado to Connecticut in 1973 with Sandy and put the worn-out car up on blocks at my parents' home in Connecticut. There it sat until I finished college, got a job and spent the proper time and money to restore it in the late 80s. It was my first car, I still have it, and it's insured with Haggerty. Yes, I know how fortunate I am. My next car was a 1973 Ford Econoline Van that I drove cross country from Connecticut to California with a different brother that same winter. I installed cabinets and a bed/couch, as well as a 120 volt home stereo system with 12" speakers that ran off a DC to AC "inverter." So we were jamming to tunes with major sound as one of us slept and the other drove. Two cars, great memories, and I honestly wouldn't have done anything differently...unless I could have swapped my two brothers for a girlfriend!
  • 4
    Carl Houston March 29, 2017 at 17:49
    I moved from Miami Fl. to Houston, TX with a 16 year old 1960 Chevy 1-ton pickup. No heat let alone a/c, in the summertime. Because I had all I owned loaded in it, the weight helped the heavy-sprung ride somewhat. No mechanical breakdowns, 2 blown tires in the 100+ degree heat, top speed 55 to close to 60 with a 5:14 rear end, 4-speed w/granny 1st., 6 cylinder. 1,250 mile trip and the truck had well over 100k miles. Not much mileage range between fill-ups, 16 gallon tank and about 14 mpg at best, had to wake-up a truck driver on I-10 at night to find a gas station before I ran dry. But we made it
  • 5
    Will Irby Madison, MS March 29, 2017 at 18:02
    I'm sure there have been worse cars for road trips, but my trip from Jackson, MS to Gainesville, FL for the 1974 Gatornationals was memorable, and not in a good way. Our trip began at 6 am on a Wednesday morning, with four enthusiastic young guys, our luggage, and camping equipment crammed into a 1972 (I think) Pinto. In anticipation of the heavy load, the owner of the Pinto had installed a set of air shocks on the rear axle. However, they proved inadequate for the task, and we had to make a detour to swap them out for a new pair before we even got out of town. We ran out of gas about 20 miles from the nearest gas station in Tallahassee on the way to the race, but that was no big deal compared to the shock we experienced when we returned to our campsite Friday morning after going out for breakfast, only to find a fire truck pulling away from the big black square on the ground where our tent had been. We lost everything--clothes, food, 4-day pit passes, etc. We had to sneak in to the races Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and needless to say, after 3 days in the same clothes with no showers, nobody wanted to be near us. Our trip home was a little quicker; a Pinto full of gear, including a full roof-mounted luggage rack, would hit 70 to 75 wide open down a good hill, but a Pinto with only four burned-out (pun intended) hippies was good for about 85. Our only incident on the way back occurred when the driver nodded off some time after midnight, and woke up to the sound of an 18-wheeler's horn blast. Oh yeah, the reason for the horn was that we had drifted about halfway underneath the flat bed of the truck! The Pinto had a homemade cruise control, consisting of a lawn mower throttle cable through the firewall and dashboard, and of course no throttle shutoff upon brake application. The driver instinctively pushed in the clutch and hit the brakes when the horn woke him from his slumber, so the rest of us woke to the sound of Pinto valves floating at about 7,000 rpm. That was enough for me; I made him let me drive the rest of the way home.
  • 6
    Brakeservo New Mexico March 29, 2017 at 18:43
    Hey, I'm a Hagerty Agent too - and last August I drove my old unrestored RHD Cobra roadster across the New Mexico, Arizona and California desert to Monterey for Pebble Beach Week. The only way I survived the heat was a well-stocked ice chest on the passenger side. Inside ice and water kept a supply of towels cold and soaking - I would wrap one around my neck and shoulders and kept to spray bottles filled with water to keep my head doused liberally! That and a huge supply of sun screen and a big brimmed hat made the trip possible.
  • 7
    Paul Jordan Oshawa, ON. Canada March 29, 2017 at 19:08
    In 2008, I drove a newly purchased, 'mint' Jewel Blue 1961 Corvette from Coos Bay, Oregon back to my home in Oshawa, ON. Canada. This was to be my dream route 66 voyage just like Todd and Buz.It was totally miserable! Minor small problems combined to caused hard starting. I suffered major rain storms and used plenty of towels, the large house-hold type. The trip was very frustrating at times with me stuck at the side of the road miles from no-where. Of course, when I connected with the Hot Rod Magazine Power tour in Little Rock, things got better but the problems persisted. I was so totally disgusted and felt so bad emotionally, that I had to write about the experience. This started an armature writing career that now, among many other articles, includes three published stories in Hemmings Motor News.
  • 8
    Johnny Oregon March 29, 2017 at 19:46
    A buddy of mine and I took a 8,000 mile road trip last summer through the states in a super car. A 1990 Consulier GTP Targa. Got 30 miles to the gallon average. Had a great time!
  • 9
    Sean bakersfield March 30, 2017 at 14:25
    Had some bad ones in my time 68 Fiat 124 spider (noisy and uncomfortable, plus leaking top), 89 Jeep w/softop, stupid noisy, wind rash and no power, 67 F600 (huge, bouncy, no power anything, cant see out of it, horrible brakes and two speed rear axle that had to be used or you would stall out) Worst ever though is an 89 E350 box van with a 460 V-8. 7 mpg with a 20 gallon tank. took it from Bakersfield CA to Albequerque NM. Horribly noisy, engine heat blistered my right foot, wind whistling through the door seals, the windshield seal leaked and the rain poured right in my crotch, heater couldnt keep up, and i had to fill up at every town on the way no matter what as i discovered limping into a couple of towns with the needle below E. When is decided to go into a 4 wheel drift on the snow covered Hwy at 1 am in Gallup NM I figured i had enough adventure for one day and got a room. Sold that monstrostiy when i got back home.
  • 10
    Mark CT March 30, 2017 at 14:33
    1970 Chevy K20 X4 pickup. with 3" lift, 350 V8 with headers, manual 4 speed with extremely stiff clutch, Super stiff leaf springs. This would shake your teeth loose, and burst your ear drums. I would wear earplugs when I used it to commute.
  • 11
    Scott SF, CA March 30, 2017 at 18:50
    Last summer my wife and I flew to San Diego to pick up a new-to-me 1963 Austin Mini Cooper. We took a week and drove our ridiculously tiny car all the way up the California Coast to our home in San Francisco. Well, almost... we snapped the fan belt in Carmel and had to make the final leg in a Toyota Yaris. Is the Austin a luxurious car? No. Is it an easy car to drive? No. Is it loud and stinky and nerve-wracking at highways speeds? Yes. Still, we had breathtaking ocean views, beautiful mountain passes, redwood forests, and a scare with an enormous forest fire. At every stop, people lined up to take photos of / with the car. The worst part of the trip wasn't breaking down; it was the depressingly mundane last 100 miles in a Yaris after days of excitement. Shockingly, no one wanted to take pictures of the Yaris. It was the best road trip I've ever taken and I'd do it again in an instant.
  • 12
    SHARYN A TAYLOR New Jersey March 30, 2017 at 11:52
    During the years 1964-1967 I drove my 1959 MGA numerous times from NJ to Fort Campbell ,KY to NJ then back and forth from NJ to Fort Bragg, NC . The MG performed flawlessly during these years with only one slight delay when a fan belt broke on the NJ Turnpike. These were long trips, 19 hrs non-stop from NJ to Fort Campbell, KY and 9 hours from NJ to Fort Bragg, NC. After discharge, the MG continued to run until 1968 when one of the rod bearings let go coming out of a toll booth on the NJ Tpke. All of those hours were spent imagining that I was running in the 24 Hours of LeMans, and I enjoyed every moment.
  • 13
    Ross McLaurin Columbia, SC March 30, 2017 at 11:57
    Took my 1953 BelAir convertible from Columbia, SC to Key west Fl. and back for summer break. Kept the top down for most of trip. Used US#1 and AIA most times. Had a BALL! No problems as she ran great. Just do not strain an "old girl"!
  • 14
    George Garrett Huntington Beach, CA March 31, 2017 at 13:25
    Mr. Gilad... Bart McGrath has advised me that he did NOT make the comment about the "Chevy Crapilier" that you attributed to him in this article. He's requesting a retraction and you can reach him at bartana@verizon.net. G. Garrett ____________
  • 15
    Gary Homer Glen, Il. March 31, 2017 at 14:30
    In 1972 my senior year in high school a friend and I took my 65 Chevelle to Daytona for spring break . Gas was .55 a gallon for premium I had Vette 327/365 motor with 4 speed and a 10 bolt with 3:08 posi so gas mileage was good around 18.We were down there for about 10 days hot dogging around town. Well I guess I did to many burn outs and burned out the clutch . So we tried to make it to an uncles house to put in a new clutch But we only made it a few miles out of Daytona when the vibrations from the clutch shook a rod loose. Well I blew the engine by some little dirt race track and the owner let me park the car there . My friend and I ended up flying back home . A couple weeks later I barrowed a car trailer from a friend of my brother and my dad and I took his 70 Impala 4 door it had 454 in it (we used it to pull a camping trailer) to go pick up the car. We left Friday night after my dad got off of work . We got down there Saturday afternoon loaded the Chevelle and headed home . We made it home Sunday afternoon I pulled the blown 327 out and threw in a old 283 and a clutch I had sitting in the garage and drove it too school on Monday. That was my first road trip after that I had bought a 70 Nova (in 74) I drove that car to Daytona for Christmas break in 74 , spring break in 75 and 76, and California in the summer of 76 with no problems . In 77 I built a 350 with a Dyers V-671 blower and added a 4;10 posi that ended my road trips with the Nova . But in 77 I bought a 71 Monte Carlo SS to continue my trips . In 1980 I took the Monte to California than in the mid-80's I joined the N M C A and raced both cars at Martin & Milan Michigan and Youngs Town Ohio .Now days my trips with both cars are to local car shows and cruise nights . Now that I am retired I am thinking of taking the Monte on a Route 66 trip back to California .
  • 16
    Yoav Gilad Traverse City, MI March 31, 2017 at 16:03
    Dear Mr. Garrett, thanks for your note; however, if you check the thread on our Facebook page related to this question of the week, you'll see that a Bart McGrath did respond and mention the "Chevy Crapalier." Please recognize that there may be more than one Bart McGrath in the US. If you have any more issues, feel free to reach out again. Thank you.
  • 17
    Dennis Gronan Hillsborough,NJ April 2, 2017 at 02:18
    I want to apply for the tittle of the biggest automotive masochist in the largest number of vehicles. My first car was a 1930 Chevy that the previous owner had cut the roof of of and stuffed a '51 Olds V8 and three speed into. I drove it from Schenctady, NY to Lime Rock CT. for the races. Turns out that there are no races on Sun. because of the neighbors but I managed to squeeze past the old Cad ambulance blocking the entrance and took a lap around the track. It was probably the slowest lap in the history of the track in spite of the V8. We also went camping in the Adirondacks - two guys in the front, two in the rumble seat, and all the gear stuffed behind the front fenders and lashed on the running boards. I drove it all one winter (still no top), but there were no floor boards either, so there was engine heat coming up. My next car was copied from a '61 Popular Mechanics magazine called the Wild Hare. It had no doors, top or heater and a small windshield , so it was a cool summer at night in upstate NY. I eventually disassembled that car and built it into a model A pickup which I drove half the year between Troy, NY (school), Staten Island, NY (summer job), and Niagara Falls, Ont. (parents) . There was even a weekend dash from Ont. to Plattsburg, NY (8 hours) to see a girlfriend. I can't say how many 6 and 8 hour trips I took in that truck. At least, by that time, I was using a winter car - first a '54 Olds, then a '55 Dodge, and lastly a '57 DeSoto. But wait! I'm just getting started. I transferred to Parsons College in Fairfield, Ia, and made a few 16 - 18 hour trips home in the truck, including one for 5 days at Thanksgiving, In 1967 I had an 8 month wait to enter flight training in the Navy, so I spent the time (after work) building a Meyers Manx dune buggy. I sewed the top on my mothers Singer and made doors out of masonite with windows made of convertable top window material. I drove it from Long Island,NY (parents new home) to Pensacola, FL in November, in two days. By 1969 I had a '61 Austin Healey which many people would not consider to be a comfortable car, but one in which I was very much at home. In '69 I was transfered to Corpus Christi, Tx and I FLAT TOWED the dune buggy with the Healey there. I drove the Healey for five years while in the Navy, including three years in Norfolk,Va. The trick to it was to have a tonneau cover and never put the top up from March to November because of the engine heat. With half of the tonneau up, (and an umbrella for downpours while stuck at a light), I was always at home. While in the Navy, I flew S2F sub chasers and C117 transports, both of which had 1500 hp nine cylinder engines. Needless to say, it was always a LOUD ride. In the winter after leaving the Navy, I skied in Vermont with the Healey, where you could get air launching off of the frost heaves in the road. I left there for two months of spring skiing in Park City Ut. My most vivid memory of the trip was to see tumbleweed as high as the car rolling across the interstate in front of me in Wyoming. When I got back to the East Coast, a friend of mine who was still in the Navy, asked me to help her drive her Austin Healey Sprite to Libby Mt to visit her sister for two weeks. So, off we went for a two day non stop trip in each direction. My Healey had good size foot wells, so at 5'10" I could stretch out, and with the seat back folded back, I spent a few nights sleeping in it. The Sprite was smaller and the foot wells shorter, so I was never totally comfortable in it. For the past 25 years I have driven the worlds most complete bone crusher of a vehicle - a 1949 Dodge 1 ton Power Wagon. With 9.00/16 tires and no power steering, it is truly a hand full. The trans is a completely non-syncro "crash box" and the differentials have 5.86:1 gearing, making it a world class beast. I guess I'll always be a glutton for punishment.
  • 18
    John Vukovich, Jr. Baton Rouge, LA April 2, 2017 at 12:25
    Two come to mind: Plymouth Prowler. My neighbor bought one for himself as a retirement present, but his wife had filled their one car attached garage with baby stuff for their daughter's impending multiplication chores, so I offered to rent him half of my two car detached garage on the condition that I got to occasionally take the car to shows and cruise nights. He, being the opportunist, agreed as long as we cleaned & detailed the car before and after (he NEVER did) and brought it back with a full tank of gas. We tried to take it to Chryslers at Carlisle and only after an hour on the road with the top down we -had to- stop and buy cheap baseball caps at the truck stop because both my wife's and my scalp were tingling from the constant buffeting from the wind. (I still have my "Route 66" cap, but somehow my wife's "#24 Jeff Gordon" had has escaped our possession). Never mind bringing any real luggage because the top took up 90% of the "trunk" space. We wore the same clothes all three days and limited ourselves to soap & shampoo and changes of underwear, because that's all that would fit in the tiny trunk! Postlude - A friend of mine was a huge Prowler enthusiast and he wanted one badly. One Sunday we drove our neighbor's car to my friend's house and let him take his wife for a spin. A half hour later, he came back and thanked us... for "saving me about $75K!" He and his wife hated that car as well. I've never seen such a quick transformation from "enthusiast" to "detractor". Dodge A-100 van: A buddy of mine wanted to go on a junkyard trip to a little unknown yard far out in the country. I said "Sure!" and he insisted on driving his old A-100 van. You know, the ones where you're hanging out over the front (solid) axle and your feet are resting on the front bumper... As if that wasn't spooky enough for a 3 hour drive (each way), the steering box was so worn that he was merely making suggestions (albeit constantly) as to which way the van was headed at 60 mph....
  • 19
    Robert Carwan Lincoln Park, MI April 3, 2017 at 15:52
    Went from Lincoln Park to Muskegon in a new 1980 Jeep CJ5, worst trip of my life! I don't believe the roads on I-96 were that bad but I'm assuming due to the short wheelbase it felt like we were bouncing all over the road. The sort vinyl doors blew and rattled in the wind! Only a 200 mile trip, but the most uncomfortable ride ever! Probably would have been more comfortable on a motorcycle!
  • 20
    Jay Salser Garland, Texas April 5, 2017 at 19:30
    As a person who has driven hundreds of thousands of miles in Beetles and Karmann Ghias...I would have to say that they are great road cars--if you don't judge a car by amenities. Here I am at 78 years of age after having driven VWs for over 40 years, still loving them and I still own a '67 Bug and a '68 Ghia. VWs were engineered for the road. We cruised at 65-75 on stock factory engines all day long--with no modifications to the suspension..
  • 21
    Jim in Texas Austin TX April 5, 2017 at 21:48
    Why waste your life with bad road-trip cars? My $600 '72 Buick LeSabre with a 455 was a GREAT road-trip car. I miss it. The truth is -- you CAN get a decent cheap road-trip car -- maybe not this cheap or as cool. On the other hand, my mondo-cool '84 Yamaha RZ350 (Kenny Roberts edition, thank yew very much) was fabulous everywhere EXCEPT on road trips longer than about 100 miles. It cost a lot more than the Buick, didn't get much better gas mileage, and ... Well, it was a motorcycle thing, like the LeSabre was a car thing. And a Black Sabbath concert viewed from the front of the mosh pit is a rock-n-roll thing. You just gotta be there and do it. And not waste part of your life creating your own unpleasant experiences. That's why I have vintage-80s Porsches now. The only unpleasant part is the cost of spares and refurb parts. Jim in Texas PS -- I totally agree with that "Chevy Crapalier" opinion -- my brother had one and nearly killed us both on a road trip that woulda merely been commuting with either the LeSabre or the RZ350.
  • 22
    Rick Gehrke Meridian, Idaho June 17, 2017 at 14:08
    I drove a convertible Corvair on an 1400 mile road trip. It was a nightmare. Should never have done it in November. Between exhaust coming into the car, a leaky top, driving rain for 4 days, and various engine issues it was a nightmare.
  • 23
    Boyd London Dallas TX June 17, 2017 at 14:29
    I drove a 1928 Dodge from Hereford TX to Dallas in late AUGUST. The factory air/brakes/steering/shocks/cruise were out. The front end shimmied badly at 45 miles per hour. The brakes mostly worked, and the headlights, which both worked, had about 2 candlepower each. I say headlights because it was 400 miles, so I left at 5:00 AM. The temperature ranged between 70 and 100+ degrees, with 100+ winning the longevity battle. I arrived by 7:00 PM same day. No mechanical issues, of course I never expected any. Taped a cardboard sign to it that said "Dallas or Bust". Stopped at Dutch's Cafe in Quanah TX for breakfast. Lots of honks and waves on the way, with a few shaking their head, probably wondering what a 17 year old kid was going to do with that car. I just goes to show that ignorance is bliss.
  • 24
    Richard Newbould Florida June 17, 2017 at 14:36
    Drove from Chicago to Miami with my wife in a 1973 MG midget. Footlocker mounted on the trunk. Came back with oranges and grapefruit stuffed in the passenger leg well. A little cramped!
  • 25
    Tom Fort Wayne, in June 17, 2017 at 15:15
    We bought a 1970 Etype coupe in early 1975 while stationed near Stuttgart Germany. Late spring we bought a luggage rack from Sears and placed it on top of the car with the spare tire and other items necessary for a 30 day camping trip. My wife and I drove for 30 days. We drove in Rome and Naples and many place in between and never had an issue on the 5000 mile trip. No over heating in 90 degree weather. When we go back to base we met with the previous owners and they said 'You drove that car where? You were brave." Never have had a major issue with the car. I am 5' 10" and my wife 5' we find the care comfortable on long trips. No A/C makes summer a sweating event.
  • 26
    Chuck in Leesburg Florida June 17, 2017 at 15:32
    The best over-the-road car I ever owned was a 2004 Lincoln Town Car. I always needed cruise control on an open highway, because if cruise wasn't engaged, I would find myself speeding between 85 and 90 mph. The town car was super quiet and smooth riding. I wish Ford was still manufacturing it.
  • 27
    Steve Bland Lincolnton, NC June 17, 2017 at 15:45
    In my senior year (Class of '66), Traverse City High School acknowledged the limitations of my '60 Fiat Nuova 500, and gave three of passes to leave school early, bound for a football game at Muskegon Mona Shores. It seemed the entire balance of the TCHS student body caught and passed us en route; we finally arrived well into the fourth quarter. 16.5 anemic hp, but 52 mpg! Too dumb to mount 4.80x12 boat trailer tires as any Crosley owner would have known to do, I had oversize lawn tractor knobbies that gave the car a threatening rake, but hampered its already strained gear ratios. Later sold the car for $35 to a more sensible driver who managed to set it on fire.
  • 28
    Dave Rosenfield Smithville, Texas June 17, 2017 at 15:51
    Feburary 1964, Philadelphia... friend sold his AC Ace to a guy in San Francisco...buyer would pay gas and $500 extra if seller would deliver instead of truck delivery.... Would we??? we did! twenty three years old , no more brains than a box of Crayolas.. Car had no top so,,, two head holes in the tonneau cover, wearing winter motorcycle kit and full face helmets with an hibachi in the passanger foot well... we drove the SHORTEST>>>MOST DIRECT>>>route between Philadelphis and San Francisco in FEBURARY. Not one second of mech. difficulty. A non-stop laugh for three and one half daze. Partied for two days in SF !!! Would I do it again? Well, yeah... I would carry that car out to SF to be twenty three again. ...and we still had $84.00 when we got back to Philadelphia.
  • 29
    James Dean Sebring,Florida June 17, 2017 at 16:54
    1954 XK120 Drophead Coupe. Rare, yes, believe about 1753 were built. When I brought mine to Colgate University , Hamilton NY in September 1967, my Senior year it needed a top. . JC Whitney kept sending one for an OTS roadster, finally , they resent the correct one, I fitted it before snowfall, along with an electric dipstick heater they sold. I had undercoated the wings with epoxy silo coating from my summer construction job, fitted 6:00x16 6 ply truck snow tires and a ski rack, wrappeded the SU's in electric pipe heating tape, and fitted an ether spray starting system to carbs, so was ready for winter. If it dropped below zero. I put a heat lamp under the bonnet all night. I carried a 200 foot extension cord on road trips. and when spending the night at a women's college, I had to to park close to the dorm, and run the extension cord out her window.. A lovely relationship was ruined, when my date's feet were frostbitten on a ski trip near the Canadian border, as the heater's function was optional. . I kept my Mallory Magspark dual point distributor wrapped in plastic, but had to reset one set of points every 100 miles. The worst run was going home at Christmas, when all roads but the Thruway were closed.. I cruised at 60 MPH, for 2 hours, occasionally rolling down the window, clearing salt from the windscreen. I saw a rest area sign near Buffalo, time to reset the points. It took all my effort to turn the wheels to the right, then a wide curve to the left, parked under a light in the parking lot . I had to use my knockoff hammer to break up a 200 pound ice block in each front wing. Slush had filled all around the tire, frozen solid, with a small slot for each big front tire. I was never so pleased to pull into the family Carriage house, an hour later.. A far better road car, in summer years later, was a 1969 Triumph GT6+ with overdrive, from Boston to an hour west of Buffalo, same Thruway, average speed 68 MPH, mileage 38 MPG .. James Dean, Sebring Florida
  • 30
    Bill Brandon Ontario June 17, 2017 at 16:58
    Would have been in the winter of 70, I was stationed in Wainwright Quebec ( back then it seemed like just a few miles south of the North Pole) I was traveling South to North Bay ( no pun intended) in my 67 Austin Healey 3000 We had put a hitch on and were dragging a trailer with a Yamaha skidoo on board. With about 70 miles or so into the trip we had a flat tire , stuck in a blizzard and on a road to nowhere. As I remember the only stop on this 180 miles of gravel road was a place called Waswanipi and with the storm and being around 10 at night it was uncertain if they would be open. Well we had lots of warm clothing and debated whether to spend the night in the car or undo the snow mobile and head home. It wasn't much of a choice, my wife at this point was giving me nasty looks, We pulled the wheel off the car , stuck it between us on the sled and headed back home. I kept telling her it was just an adventure and that 70 miles on a snow machine in a blizzard was just going to be fun. I never did convince her of that. As I look back on this incident I realize how lucky we were. We headed back the next day dug the car out turned around and came straight home. I don't remember taking another trip in the Healey during the winter.
  • 31
    Stan Shields Orange City, Florida June 17, 2017 at 18:22
    I would love to take my 66 Mustang on a road trip, but I only use non-ethanol gas because the other has caused many headaches. Even with the ethanol treatment it did not work. What do you suggest because non-ethanol is few and far between right now.
  • 32
    Ron Nordquist Spring, TX June 17, 2017 at 18:23
    After high school graduation in '64, drove my $200 '57 Pontiac Super Chief with two buddies on THE ROAD TRIP. Minneapolis-Rapid City-Casper, WY-Estes Park, CO-Continental Divide (over 12,000')-Boulder-Salt Lake City-Phoenix (110 degrees), tenting along the way (no money). Then oh what the heck nonstop back to Minneapolis, 40 hours, total 4500 miles. Car never missed a beat going as fast as the recaps and "Porta-walls" would allow, about 85 mph. Took the car on several more trips in college including 6 guys with skis to Jackson Hole, Denver, and Sun Valley. Always drove nonstop, Sun Valley was 30 hours each way. Only trouble was knocking off an under seat heater hose: engine stopped, exhaust ports and manifolds red hot, pushed 20 miles to next town at 2:00 AM. Fixed hose, bent exhaust pipes back into place, put in antifreeze, and finished trip, no hard feelings from the Pontiac. It had over 100,000 miles at the time and I don't think I ever changed the spark plugs.
  • 33
    warren sjoberg MN June 17, 2017 at 21:02
    In '97 we took our '26 Model T touring on a 2000 mile trip from Minneapolis to the Devil's Tower in WY via the ND badlands and MT, went to Mt. Rushmore, thru' the SD badlands, back across SD and up in to MN and on home. Unassisted and alone, a real Model T, no updates no changes.
  • 34
    Dave PE South Africa June 18, 2017 at 14:49
    None of the comments mention a BMC Mini. Not much bigger than the Peel!!! But it's all about the experience and if it was comfortable, cheap, and trouble free would it be memorable
  • 35
    Larry Lindsey Arlington, Texas June 18, 2017 at 15:57
    I have a bright red 1967 Mustang convertible with a matching fiberglass trailer that I "go camping" in. I have visited 20 national parks in the US and Canada since I retired. An old cars is a people magnet and has allowed me to make friends everywhere I stop. Sure, unlike modern cars, they are loud, less comfortable and get terrible mileage but they bring a smile on faces and allow you to make new friends. You'll never get that response from a new car. I just got back from the Indy 500 and will be heading for "Crusin the Coast" in October.
  • 36
    bblhed Western CT June 18, 2017 at 10:15
    I'm going to go against the grain and talk about what most believe is one of the worst cars ever built being a great roadtrip car. I owned a 1985 Pontiac Fiero with Power windows and AC that only worked for about a month of the 13 years I owned it. That car made many Connecticut to Florida trips only letting me down once on a long haul when the ignition module let go on the New Jersey Turnpike. I managed to get towed to a shop that was closing but was near a parts store. No one wanted me working on my car on their lot so I had the car dropped in an unattended parking lot and walked to the parts store. I was back on the road in less than an hour, and told the attendant at the garage where they were going to drop my car to let the mechanic know what I thought of him for leaving me like that. I owned and drove that car the entire time I was in the Navy and all through College and beyond, that car never let me down. That car was finally killed with over 230,000 miles on it by a kid in a Ford Festiva rear ending me at speed and causing electrical damage that could not be repaired. I drove the Fiero home that day, but the Festiva died at the scene.
  • 37
    Bob Bryant Niantic, CT June 18, 2017 at 22:17
    In 1954 three of us GI's joined John W. after our week-long leave for a return to (Camp Chaffee) Fort Smith, Arkansas from NE Indiana. John's vehicle was an under-powered Henry J which had rear windows that do not open and a small very limited storage space behind the rear seat. 4 GI's and four stuffed duffel bags and other belongings were sharing the inner space. It was summer and very hot and humid. Travel was slow and very uncomfortable and when we arrived in Fort Smith reverse gear had failed and the car was limping because of its unfair burden. John promptly traded it in for another tired clunker that could back up!
  • 38
    Scott Belair Anaheim, California June 19, 2017 at 15:46
    In late November of 1976, My brother and I, two surfers from San Diego, went on a 15 hour road trip to Salt Lake City Utah. We Drove my First Car, a 1966 Mustang Convertible. It was smooth sailing until we ran into snowy weather. Every time an 18 wheeler went by from the opposite direction, the top would lift just enough for the snow flakes to enter the passenger compartment. the heater was not functioning and It became so cold, I could not feel my feet. This made it difficult to drive and probably dangerous too. We would have to stop at numerous Service Stations along the way, put our feet into the sink and and run warm water over them. 15 hours turned into 19 hours. Needless to say This car was made for cruising the Beaches of California. 18 years later I restored that Emberglo Convertible Mustang, and I still own it today. (43 years) It has not been in the snow since then and has been retired to being driven to Car Shows and the occasional Parades.
  • 39
    Sid Boston June 19, 2017 at 08:49
    Regularly drove from North Iowa to Boston for college in the late 60's, early 70's. Always non stop, 21 hours. Worst was with my "dream car"! Purchased the first 914-4 Porsche in summer of 1970 - Drove to Boston with a friend, trading off driving duties as always. Return trip for Thanksgiving....clutch cable broke about 20 miles west of Boston and I had to drive the full 21 hours, matching revs for shifts and shutting the car off at toll booths. It would start in gear so we bump, bump, bumped out of each toll. I was both trashed and angry by the time I finally got to the dealer (also 100 miles from my home - Porsche wasn't ell represented in Iowa!). Shades of trouble to come. Fun to drive but a car filled with gremlins. I used to carry a bag full of relays because the fuel injection relay would fail every time the humidity reached 85% Only kept it a year.
  • 40
    Dave Albuquerque June 19, 2017 at 10:07
    My 1967 Triumph GT6. Bought in 1978 and insured with Hagerty. I take several road trips in it a year. It is fast and fun to drive but it is also hot and noisy and after 3 or 4 hours there is no way you can hold your right leg that doesn't hurt. That said, I love the car and plan to keep it for the rest of my life.
  • 41
    Brian D Johnson MO June 19, 2017 at 11:25
    Two quick ones: 1) Bought my Miata about 3 hours away from where I live. It doesn't have cruise control, and I'm 6'4". By the end, my legs were so stiff it was unbelievable. Last time I have taken the car that far on an interstate. On back roads with corners, and speed changes, it's fine. 2) My father-in-law sold "Old Blue" his 88 Toyota truck to my wife's uncle. My son and I bounced it down the highway laughing all the way. Thank God it was just 2 hours. When we turned on to the dirt road, near our destination, though, it was like the truck said, "This is more like it!" smooth sailing for the last two miles.
  • 42
    kirk Deluca Outside Boston June 20, 2017 at 14:22
    Back in 1972 I had to go to Mesa, Arizona , I was 18. My Grand parents took me in and my little brother it was mid September and my parents were going through a divorce.... MyGrand Pa hooked me up with a job at the infamous , CamelBack Inn in Scottsdale. I needed wheels so my Grand Pa co-signed me a 1963 Plymouth slant 6 Valient...,What a tank !!! 4 door 3 spee on the column first car ever with a clutch..... It took me 30 minutes to figure it out so after cooking 5 months got homesick and girlfriend sic ,I was writing 2-3 letters a week to her and my future wife , I decided to quit work and drove back home in the middle of February, 1973....... should have waited a month .... took me 4 days 75-80 miles an Hr that car had good power but Idid wipe out on a snowy wet bridge in Ohio did a few dounuts and rested break down lane everything was good.... till ..... another car did the exact same thing I did ..... Wam !!! Bam !!!car hit me driver side door....... sohadtopull out front fender with tire iron and off I went ..... made it home ok it was an experience as a young man drove the car another year thenup graded to a 1971 455 GTO 4 speed Hurst , convertible for $1500.00 bucks.... not bad..... oh ya sold the car in 1974 what a mistake I made doing that !!! Kirk
  • 43
    Vasi Toronto June 20, 2017 at 14:28
    I drove in every one of the lower 48 US States, I literally covered every corner from Seattle WA to San Diego CA, Key West FL and West Quoddy Head MA, and...anything in between. It took me 3 separate road trips to cover all, a total of ~22000 miles. The longest continuous drive was 1164 miles although in a 24h period I did drove more than that. It was the most pleasurable experience ever and that was part because of the scenery and part because of the car: my '97 Cadillac Seville STS. This car, and generally large luxury (first) and sporty (second) sedans, have really long legs. It just eats miles after miles on the HWY at any speed and climate. It is now showing 226000 Miles on the clock and I am getting ready for a trip to Florida in August. But this topic was about the worst choice, so I have to say, I would definitely not take my '66 Mustang for such a trip. Is really fun for short drives, but the noise, the vibrations, the lack of power steering (in my case), the 60's suspension and brakes and changing gears for yourself, the stuff that is fun in the first 10 miles, is becoming unbearable after that. So no classic cars, no small cars, no SUVs, no trucks, vans or minivans. Luxury SUVs and Minivans could be a good choice but, because of the high profile, gas consumption is a concern. A large sedan offers, in my opinion, the best compromise between space, ride comfort and nimbleness. Perhaps if you are more family oriented a station wagon (remember those?) variety of the sedan would serve better.
  • 44
    JHart Biloxi, MS June 20, 2017 at 17:08
    I love reading these stories and I happen to have one of my own. In 1969 our family moved from Mississippi to Alaska to join my father who was in the USAF and was already there. There was my mother, four teenagers and a dog in a 1964 Pontiac Catalina. The car would have been fine had it only been a couple of people on this 5k plus road trip that took us two weeks to do. The car was loaded to the gills, including a pod on the roof. We had to stop every night wherever we could find a cheap motel and dig to find clean clothes to put on. The Alaska highway (Alcan) was all gravel from one end to the other. Every time my brother would pass gas he would roll down the window and dust will boil into the car. He wasn't doing us a favor, believe me! For these country kids who had barely been out of the South, it was a trip we will never forget. I have traveled the Alcan four more times since then, and none of them have been much better but always memorable. I would love to still have that '64 Catalina, or my brother's '64 Impala (second Alcan trip in 1970). Cheers!
  • 45
    Jim Rygg La Grande, OR June 20, 2017 at 17:26
    In 1964 I drove my 1959 MGA from E. Oregon to Spearfish, SD and back. Had very few problems until I got to Missoula, MT on the way back--carbs worked loose and almost fell off. I pulled in to a parking space in town, and tightened it up and made it back to E. Oregon the next day. Trip was made better by having a good cooler with a nice selection of food and drink to make the long distances between towns more comfortable. Later I put a supercharger on the MGA and improved the performance a lot. Wish I still had it.
  • 46
    Jim Rygg La Grande, OR June 20, 2017 at 17:28
    In 1964 I drove my 1959 MGA from E. Oregon to Spearfish, SD and back. Had very few problems until I got to Missoula, MT on the way back--carbs worked loose and almost fell off. I pulled in to a parking space in town, and tightened it up and made it back to E. Oregon the next day. Trip was made better by having a good cooler with a nice selection of food and drink to make the long distances between towns more comfortable. Later I put a supercharger on the MGA and improved the performance a lot. Wish I still had it.
  • 47
    Mike Grimm Plymouth Michigan June 20, 2017 at 19:44
    1971, juniors at Eastern Michigan University, 5 of us decide to head for Daytona Beach for spring break. The only one with a semi reliable car was Larry who had a 1969 or 70 Opel Kadett Rally. 5 of us in that tiny sub compact. Was ok on the way down, I'm sure the anticipation masked all of our complaints. Heading back home was a different story. The reality of heading back to school in a dreary Michigan spring did not mask our discontent. One of us (I don't recall who) bailed at the first chance into a larger vehicle driven by other friends we met in Florida. Good times, great memories.
  • 48
    John S. Desko ABQ, NM July 3, 2017 at 23:28
    I have to strongly disagree with two of your picks! I drove home after an honorable discharge from the USAF in 1973. Discharge was in Clovis, NM. Home was Erie, PA. The CJ5 I drove was the first “car” I had ever owned. I made the 1700 miles with only a brief nap in Missouri. I kept the Jeep for 8 years & sold it later for $200 more than I paid for it. Later from Erie a friend & I drove my sisters VW Super Beetle to Colorado Springs & back; with a trunk load of Coors. While that qualifies as another story, the only miss-hap along the way was a head light lost to a bird strike in Kansas. I maintain that what make a car eligible for this list is not so much the car but the circumstances & the attitude of the drivers.
  • 49
    Keith Bury Edmonton July 8, 2017 at 12:00
    Brand new 1966 Volkswagen 1600, mom, dad (both smokers), four kids and a dog. Lexington, Virginia to Duluth, Minnesota. Hell.

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