US Road Trip Car

This page dates from December 2004, prior to the eventual road trips detailed in Travelog and Epilog.

What car to buy?

Some people may think that I should be concentrating more on the places to go and the sights to see. Those people would be wrong. The priority for me will be to decide the vehicle to travel in. At time of writing (December 2004) I've settled on one of these two:

Corvette C3 1968-82


There may be some people reading this who don't know what a Corvette looks like, but frankly I doubt it. Has the US - or anyone else, for that matter - ever made a sexier car?

Buying a Corvette seems, from here in the UK, to be the easier choice. As I see it the pros and cons weigh in as follows:

  • Fibreglass body, so rust is less of an issue
  • Many specialists around if it goes wrong
  • Easy to sell-on, either in the US or back in the UK
  • Plenty to choose from
  • Very obvious choice
  • Cramped interior
  • Little luggage space (basically just a shelf behind the seats - there is no boot)

Before we left Michigan in 1976 I went to a local crossroads and took photos of any interesting cars that passed. Many of those pictures were of Corvettes.

There are plenty of nice Corvettes out west at Corvette California and CNV Corvette Arizona. And the weather out there will be quite nice in early February 2005, when I'm heading off. Temperature in the 60's, so I'm told, is quite normal.

Buick Riviera 1963-65

Buick Riviera

A more left-field option is a Buick Riviera of the early 60's.

  • Distinctive car
  • Cheaper than a Corvette (in fact, given the prices for 60's 'muscle cars' in the US, it seems a bit of a bargain)
  • Lots of space for luggage etc.
  • Rust could be rampant
  • Difficult to find
  • Could be tricky to find parts and specialists

As a Scout in Michigan we had to go round door-to-door to raise support for some scheme or other. One older couple we (my mate Jamie and I) visited had a couple of abandoned cars in front of their house, neither of which had ran for years. We asked if we could come back and play in the cars. They were nice people and were fine with it - we even had free lemonade if it was hot - and we spent many hours there. One of the cars was a Renault Dauphine, which was great for playing rally drivers as it had a manual gearbox. A bit lacking in creature comforts, though. The other car was, of course, a mid-60's Buick Riviera. Light blue with blue cloth interior, if memory serves, and more electrical gizmos than your average space shuttle. None of them worked, of course, but that really doesn't matter when you've got your imagination to do all the hard work.

The Rivieras I've found are south of Chicago in Illinois. At time of writing (December 2004) there are options at Country Classic Cars and further south just over the border from St Louis at Gateway Classic Cars. The weather there in February is likely to be horrendous - similar to that I can remember in Michigan - and it's a long drive to somewhere warmer and less likely to be covered in snow and ice.

Route >