Never Stop Driving #99: The Road of the Year

James Lipman

Given the choice to drive a great car on any road in the world, I’d head to Ojai, California, and stunning Route 33. Just typing those words makes me jittery with anticipation. California State Route 33—as it’s officially known—and its dozens of miles of uninhabited curves, dips, rises, and vistas is Hagerty’s first Road of the Year. (Check out this reel.)

As the epicenter of American car culture, Southern California was an obvious place for us to start with this award, but we will be looking further afield for next year’s winner. Kindly comment on this article or nominate your own favorite road via [For the full Road of the Year experience, you need Hagerty Drivers Club magazine, which is part of membership. Join here.]

California Route 33 Road of the Year 2024
James Lipman

I started keeping a personal diary of my favorite roads some 20 years ago. When I need to be anywhere on the East Coast, I’ll usually drive from my home base in Michigan, adding a few days to the excursion for exploring. The right car on the right road is a beautiful thing, so when I find one, I snap a few photos to record the location.

Route 58, which runs parallel to Virginia’s southern border and gets curvy and rural in the western part of the state, is a longtime favorite. I first drove it back in 2012 and need to return. I bet you have similar favorites, and we’d love to hear about them.

In other news, the Financial Times held a conference called “Future of the Car” last week. There are so many similar events, but what made this one special was the number of car company CEOs and senior executives in attendance. I have all kinds of sympathy for these automotive leaders—even though they are highly paid—because few consumer products are as heavily regulated as cars.

They’re in a tough spot. Governments are demanding EVs that can’t be produced at prices consumers are willing to pay. Someone must eat those losses. Should it be car companies? Or the public via subsidies? The bet, of course, is that EV costs will fall over time, yet there are so many contributing complications: charging networks, the nation’s power grid, and how we generate electricity. Big, complicated problems that these leaders are tasked with solving. You can read the FT’s terrific summary here.

Jay Leno recently reminded me that the last days of an existing technology are always the best. After 100 years of constant development by smart engineers, today’s internal combustion gasoline engines are staggeringly good. They start in every weather condition, are cheap, powerful, and almost never fail. When folks ask me if they should change the engine oil at 3000 miles, the old standard, I ask, “When was the last time you saw an engine fail?” Yeah, likely never. So just use the interval in your owner’s manual.

Conversely, we’re at the dawn of EV tech and, not surprisingly, things are rocky. Someone recently told me that without gas engines, all cars will become boring, electrically driven blobs. Hogwash! There are so many variables that determine how a car feels, from suspension geometry and the vehicle’s center of gravity to tires, steering, and so much more. I know scores of bright people working in the car industry who love driving as much as we do and who will have these variables in mind as they develop the cars we’ll be driving in the future.

Here’s some of my favorite new material from Hagerty Media to get you through the weekend.

Thanks for reading!


P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment below!

Please share this newsletter with your car-obsessed friends and encourage them to sign up for the free weekly email. The easy-to-complete form is here. And if you’d like to support the efforts of Hagerty Media, please consider joining the Hagerty Drivers Club.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Restoring a Canadian-Made Impala—and Keeping It Canadian—Is a Challenge


    You should talk to any good shop and ask about engine failures… ram and jeep hemi’s, ford eco boost , all pickup diesel’s and even Toyota are failing because people follow recommendations of 7500 to even 10000 mile oil changes. Mostly cam/ valve train issues. My friends busy big shop sees at least one sometimes two engine failures a week they attribute to no maintenance!
    Granted I live out west where it’s dusty…
    Oil is cheap compared to the cost of repairs and new vehicles!

    Yeah, if Larry hasn’t seen modern engine failures it’s just from not paying attention. It’s almost like he’s a well-to-do car journalist who only drives new press cars and well maintained hobby cars. After all, his Ferrari engine was “new” yet smoked like a steam train…

    I follow the excellent daveautocenter on Instagram and he has multiple entertaining and educational posts showing truck and car engines that he has in his shop on a weekly basis that have failed prematurely due to extended oil change intervals.

    Of coure there are failures as nothing is perfect. I recommended folks stick to the intervals the manufacturers specify. For sure bad things happen when folks don’t maintain their cars!

    Rt. 42 in Virginia which is a wonderfully rhythmic road west of I-81. Find Lexington right along 81, move a bit west and you’ll find 42 running north of through Staunton. Majestically verdant in the summer, with rolling hill and farmland. To me the perfect road is not so twisty that you are tied up in a knot. 42 plays like a song. You’ll love it. and the area is filled with so, so many other gems.

    Having spent my formative college years at VaTech and have driven Rt.42 many times. Super fun road, much of which is a ridge-runner with great views on both sides.

    I have many fond memories of US58 from living in Abingdon VA in the ’80s and 90s. The run from I-77 to Bristol is not for sightseeing!

    Just watch the YouTube channel “idocars” to see all the engine failures one would like. And the guy is entertaining. There are some modern engines out there I wouldn’t touch with a 50 foot pole.

    I do not feel the slightest bit sorry for the auto execs. They got in bed with the government on its EV agenda. They wanted it. Any talk of rolling back mileage or emissions requirements and they come out against it. The US auto companies have effectively been wards of the state since the financial crisis bailouts. Whatever the government says they go along. No pushback. Why? The subsides and other financial promises. The problem is that these people didn’t think it through. EV problems are far beyond cost. They aren’t as good overall and it was far too political. I will never own one for both of those reasons. And there are millions like me. And that’s why they far overestimated the US sales potential. Freedom of choice is perfectly fine but the agenda made it a big problem.

    I love your “Road of the Year”. We have one near Reno, Nevada that I believe will top your HWY 33! You go west from Reno on INST 80, north on HWY 89 through Sierraville, turn north untill you get to HWY 49 then go west to Bassetts – a great lunch stop. The next 14 miles to Bassetts are sportscar nirvana!!! The posted speed has defaulted to 55 and most cars struggle to do 40-45. There are turns marked at 15, 25 and 35 with lots of elevation changes. I’m president of the regional DeTomaso Pantera chapter and we (along with our other make friends) use this road to remind ourselves why we have cars like this! I’ love to share it with you!!!

    You might want to look in NE Georgia at Warwoman Rd coming out of Antioch to Pine Mountain where it meets US 29 north into North Carolina. Some good twisty’s to enjoy.

    Larry, I’ve been a longtime member and love the HDC. Would like to suggest you feature the Blue Ridge Parkway in one of your greatest road features. It’s a lovely drive.

    Actually, the vast majority is 45mph with occasional reductions to 35mph or 25mph. Given the nature of the road and the scenery, the speed limits are reasonable, and it still can provide an exhilarating drive.

    Picking your favourite road is tough. There are many great drives. Some challenge you as a driver and others are simply breath-taking. Some are both.

    I love driving both the Cabot Trail and Highway 33 that hugs the South Shore of Nova Scotia. There are some fantastic drives in Alberta and British Columbia. Highway 40 through the Kananaskis mountain range is one. The road from Parksville to Tofino on Vancouver Island that takes you through old growth forest and along some great twisty sections to the Pacific Ocean is fantastic too except when you get stuck behind slower traffic.

    Lastly, this isn’t one road but 2000 km (1240 miles) of roads with about a third of that closed to traffic for Targa Newfoundland. There are some amazing and challenging stretches of winding roads along the scenic and ruggedly beautiful coastline of the island province.

    Highway 33 on the South Shore does not exist. The only Highway 33 is the Bedford Bypass which is a short and boring divided 4-lane. I think you mean either Highway 3, which goes all along the South Shore from Halifax to Yarmouth, or Highway 333, which goes from the Halifax city outskirts, past Peggy’s Cove to Tantallon, where it connects with Highway 3. Lots of twisties, but in summer, also lots of traffic.

    Slip of the finger and bad memory. I meant Highway 3 as you wrote. I always enjoyed bombing around the road to Peggy’s Cove and along St. Margaret’s Bay too. Like a mini-Nurburgring.

    Love hearing about 33! We hope to hear that way this September or so.
    We have a few favorites in central Ohio. My home is on 656, and it connects to a beautiful ribbon of pavement called 229 to Mt Vernon. And even 314 to Mid Ohio Raceway is pretty cool.

    Please! Please! Keep your best road recommendations to the east. I’ve seen what has happened to the Tail of the Dragon. There are no good roads anywhere near where I drive – and I’m trying to mention this to my local PCA drivers. Keep them to yourself or those who ask individually. Do you tell everyone how much money you have in your saviings account?

    Quote. “I ask, “When was the last time you saw an engine fail?” Yeah, likely never.”

    I see it ALL of the time!! We have 3 in our shop parking lot waiting for engines right now! After those are done, there will be a new group. Has been very consistent. All have followed the manufacturer intervals. I see timing chain and camshaft problems frequently as well.

    I have to respectfully strongly disagree with Larry this time.

    I will keep changing my own oil at 4,000-5,000 miles with full synthetic oil. You can continue to follow the manufacturer oil change intervals and keep me busy making money off the failures! Works for me. I make my living and fund my projects off people following 7,500+ oil change intervals.

    Anyone I know, and like I tell to change their oil more frequently.

    Larry, I love your columns. I recently went to LA, I took the Angels Crest highway from Pasadena to Palmdale. Was a great drive! I haven’t driven much in California except I-15 and that drive was a great change!

    Ummm, didn’t Sajeev just ask everyone for their favorite roads, and didn’t he even make a neat-o compilation of them organized by state (or at least geographical area)? And now you’re asking us to send in our favorite roads, Larry? Just trying to fill your day? 😛

Leave a Reply

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