Never Stop Driving #39: Cruising Comeback

At a time when it seems that government and society jointly conspire to limit the fun we can have with our cars, some good news: Some California cities are repealing anti-cruising laws. These measures emerged decades ago, when cruises in some cities had become violent. Cruising at first blush seems simple—hey, dude, let’s cruise—but the activity can be compromised by a few bad apples that make things a nightmare for local law enforcement. In 2004, Car and Driver published an excellent overview that covers both sides of the issue.

California is home to Modesto, the cruising city immortalized in American Graffiti, and to the lowriding culture that the Hagerty Drivers Foundation celebrated when it placed the Gypsy Rose custom 1964 Impala on the National Historic Vehicle Register (video here). Lowriders are as much artwork as cars. Let’s hope lawmakers—and cruisers—can find ways to enable cruising while keeping it safe for everyone.

gypsy rose lowrider rear three quarter los angeles skyline background
Hagerty Drivers Foundation

In other news, engineering professor (and former Navy pilot) Missy Cummings presented research highlighting the dangers of electronic driver aids that lull drivers into a false sense of safety. Last week, another driver was killed when their Tesla ran into a fire truck. That unfortunate incident followed a massive recall of Tesla vehicles over potential issues with the automaker’s so-called Full Self Driving software. Every time I read the claim “Full Self Driving,” I ask myself: Can I take a nap from behind the wheel? No? Then it’s not self-driving.

It’s not all grim news out there in the world of automotive manufacturing. Honda is building an 800-horsepower CR-V and Ferrari appears to be developing a successor to the La Ferrari hybrid supercar. I drove the LaFerrari at Ferrari’s track in 2014, a real “hell, yeah!” experience for me, and I remember how it utterly abused the rear tires. The combined thrust of the V-12 engine and the electric motor produced 949 horsepower, which was all routed to the rear. Other recent supercars—from the Porsche 9181 to Bugattis and even the new hybrid Corvette—have relied on four-wheel drive to more judiciously apportion the massive power and torque that are now commonplace.

On that Ferrari press junket, I got maybe half a dozen laps, Ferrari minders wanting to limit the opportunities for their $1.3 million machine to be damaged. By lap two, the stability control system proved so intrusive that I shut it off, only to then exit every turn sideways. Practically any touch of the throttle spun the rear wheels, especially after a few laps, when I surmised that I’d overcooked the tires. The Ferrari folks, admirably, did not bat an eye as I drifted sideways from turn to turn, trailing a plume of tire smoke and wearing an epic grin. That machine was just as it should be—a hooligan—driven, it must be stated, by a hooligan. Let’s hope they retain that character with the new one.

For the LaFerrari successor, they could employ the new 800-hp electric drive unit developed by Tremec. I’d love to drive a Ferrari with that powertrain on a racetrack someday but more immediately, Gridlife is hosting a road-racing series for Tesla Model 3s. That racing curiosity alone is enough for me to attend one of those events, which based on our coverage sound pretty fantastic.

Before I sign off, I’d like to suggest two long reads for your weekend: A heartfelt tribute to vintage-racer emissary Phil Reilly and a list of racing cheats that proves just how creative engineers can be.

Hear from Larry every Friday by subscribing to this newsletter.


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: BSA’s 650 Lightning was good, but not enough to save the company


    I ENJOY “cruising” VERY MUCH!!!! Great article. Has Hagerty ever thought of doing a automotive coloring book? I am a 48 year member of the VCCA & have collected over 1500 Chevrolet coloring images from 1911-2023. I also have many examples of Ford, Chrysler & other GM cars & trucks.

    Thanks for the thoughtful article.
    I recently read, “Why We Drive” and found many of the same thoughts echoed in your article. The whole debate about self-driving cars should not be a debate at all. Those of us who truly love to drive tend, I think, to bring all of our abilities to bear when on the road: hyper vigilance, thinking ahead, seeing well in advance, planning our actions and knowing the operation of the vehicle itself. Too much “fly by wire” technology makes for lazy driving habits and admits to the road those individuals who are not suited or too uninterested in maintaining the high skill levels to be good drivers. If someone does not want to be actively involved in DRIVING THE CAR, fine. Do not drive, take some other form of transportation where you do not suicidally risk the lives of the rest of society. The arrogance that substitutes purchased technology for skill is a horrible bargain for everyone concerned.

    Larry, I don’t know what universe you’d be considered a Hooligan. Glad you enjoyed the Ferrari ride; always enjoy your writing and take on things.

    Aircraft have had autopilots since the 1930’s and today they have Autoland capability. From experience, I can tell you that the autopilot can fly rings around 99.9% of the pilots out there, that definitely includes me. BUT, a qualified pilot must be at the controls at all times during the operation of the autopilot. There is a reason for that as shown by some of the incidents involving “self driving” cars. The airspace over the US, the world in fact, is quite large and the aviation industry still experiences mid air collisions. How would you like to be on an airliner going into LAX or Kennedy Airport knowing that no pilot was at the controls? Your life is in the hands of “George”, the autopilot. The pilots are having coffee with the flight attendants and no one is looking outside. Sounds crazy? That is what someone, not paying attention to the road ahead in a “self driving” car is doing. An individual in a “self driving” car (who isn’t paying attention) and has an accident is just “fixing stupid”.

    Larry, it’s also interesting how many “self driving” tech companies have closed their doors recently, or been purchased by larger concerns. Living in the Pittsburgh area, Argo had been a fixture here for many years. Their assets I believe were sold to a larger concern. The bottom line is that as flawed as it may be, the human brain has far more plasticity when having to combine a myriad of varied decision parameters into one quick decision. Something that is going to take AI, quite some time if ever to replicate.

    One another entirely different subject, a friend and I were discussing what has happened…or is happening with automotive stylists with the prevalence of SUV’s in the marketplace? He suggested that there have always been “styling trends” which over time have leaned more toward the functional since there is data available of late on how shapes move through their environments.

    Having said this though, companies have still been able to produce some very well done styling concepts that have made it into production. The lone exception seems to be SUV’s. He did note though that “crossovers” seem to be gradually lowering themselves closer to the ground, and as such nicer styling seems to go along with this trend. It is interesting to ponder the relative homogenous styling that seems to be popular these days, and are stylists by and large hamstrung?

    Stylists are hamstrung by some of the modern rules around frontal area, sharp edges and so on. You can’t make an SUV version of a 59 Caddy with pop up headlights for example (what an abomination that would likely be…). Anything that adds drag (fuel inefficiency) tends to not happen too.

    But the companies are cowards. Look how fast “different” is undone such as the slit-eyed Jeeps and electric shaver faced Silverados.

    1940s 4 door sedans and 1964 of the same look a lot alike too, they just don’t look as close to 1955 or 1969 whereas there is much less visual difference in SUV since 2000 aside from some having Japanese Anime extra creases tossed on them. But minivans are getting close to 30 years of pretty much the same exact look (once we got past the dustbuster variants).

    After reaching the age of 80, I have found myself driving the speed limit more than I used to. I think it is time to let some of the younger generation have fun while they can. My 1930 stock Model A coupe is suited just fine for me to tour the countryside. Enjoy reading your pieces on the net. Thanks.

    Just finished driving the road to Hana in Hawaii today. Yesterday did the road around the northern end of Maui. Would love to see a Tesla drive either road. Would make a great episode of the old Top Gear.

    I kind of think that “cruising” means different things in different areas of the country, and maybe to different groups of “car cultures” (e.g. – tuners, sporties, low-riders, van folks, etc.). I KNOW it means something different to me (a guy from the ’50s) than it does to some younger people (like in their ’20s) that I’ve talked to lately. What’s YOUR take?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *