The other day I did a search for best road trip cars…………I was completely surprised when almost every list I found had minivans listed…………..EEEK. Now, I get it from one perspective, lots of room for family, luggage, the dog, maybe even camping.
No, what I was looking for was exotic cars that would be the most fun to drive on a nice winding two lane road. From my perspective the car and the road are what inspires the trip. The destination and the cool places you find along the way are the bonus not the motivation……………….yes, it is all about the road and the car!!
What is an exotic car…………. in most cases they are expensive, rare, impractical and high performance. These cars will not always be the best for lots of luggage, kids, dogs and certainly not camping. They will typically be two seaters and not always the most comfortable for the passenger………………. but boy o boy what fun for the driver. Actually we will pay attention to the passenger comfort…….. we need are partners to enjoy the trip so we can do more.
I’m going to start a list of the exotic cars that I am the most interested in driving……….. most of these cars I have not driven yet, so it’s going to be more like my wish list of the best road trip cars. Please come back and see as the list grows (no minivans here).
Hello and thank you for checking out my website. I will be creating a series of road trips that we have already taken or plan on taking in the future. Our first series will be “Best California Road Trips”. As we live in Northern California (about 30 miles south of Sacramento) most of our series so far have been in Northern California, however there are so many great driving roads in all parts of the state that we will eventually report on as well. We will provide info on how the trip was planned, the car for the trip, the road that inspired the trip and the destination that the road took us to. Please fill free to respond with comments or tell your own story.
So, you’ve probably been wondering where the picture of my car and the sign “NEXT 140 MILES” was taken…… well, this is the road trip behind the sign.
My next door neighbor Mike, who has a Porsche Cayman S had told me about Hwy 36 in Northern California. He had traveled this road many times as his wife had family in the area. He had told me what a great driving road this was. Mike was a car guy like myself and enjoyed a good driving road. We had talked about taking this trip together one day.
This turned out to be one of my favorite road trips ever. When we hit the road there were four of us in 4 different cars. This was one of my most aggressive driving road trips ever…………… we had no passengers on this trip which was a good thing. In fact, this road trip was better than most of the track days I’ve had and is why this is another in our series of Best California Road Trips.
My neighbor Mike had reached out to me in late October and asked if I would be interested in making a run to Hwy 36. The plan was to hit the road about two weeks later on Friday November 9th.
Mike had also invited a couple friends who were also car guys that I had not met. Jonathan, who has a Porsche Cayman S and Alex who has an Alfa Romea Giulia Quadrifoglio. They were all great guys and this was one “EPIC” road trip!!
The plan was to all meet up at a gas station just north of Sacramento, Ca off I-5. We would then head north about another hour to Willows, Ca were we would stop for lunch and then head a little farther north to Red Bluff, Ca where we would catch Hwy 36 and head west to Fortuna, Ca.
Little did we know at the time what devastation the fire that broke out just the day before on Thursday in Paradise, Ca would become. It was the deadliest fire in California history and the entire town of Paradise was essentially destroyed. We could see the smoke to the east of us as we headed north on I-5 Friday morning, however once we headed west on Hwy 36 it was behind us and out of sight. It did hit home how bad it was the following day as we were driving back on Hwy 36 heading east and could see the amount of smoke ahead of us.
This would be just a two-day trip. The plan was to hit Hwy 36 for the “NEXT 140 MILES” on Friday, stay the night in Fortuna, have some dinner and wine and then hit Hwy 36 again for the next day all over again as we headed home.
This time we have a cool collection of cars to talk about. Mike has 2015 Cayman S 981 with a 3.4L naturally aspirated 6 cylinder that makes that sweet Porsche sound. This was just before Porsche switched to the turbo charged 4 cylinders for the Cayman. Though the performance of the new turbo charged 4 cylinder is similar to the 6 cylinder version……….. the engine sound does not come close to that of the 6 cylinder engine………………..and yes, the sound of the engine is important!!
Jonathan also has a Porsche Cayman S 981. This Cayman is very similar to Mike’s though it is a 2014 model. It has the same basic engine as Mike with a 3.4L 6 cylinder making about 325 hp and 273 ft lb of torque (torque is basically your low end power, with the hp being your top end power). Both Mike and Jonathan’s Porsche had the famous Porsche PDK automatic transmission which is considered the best in the world………….and it is!! It is absolutely amazing how quickly they shift gears without ever having to lift off the gas.
Alex has a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. This car was a surprise to me as a 4 door sedan. It has a 2.9L twin turbo 6 cylinder engine making 505 hp and 443 ft lb torque. The engine is basically a Ferrari 8 cylinder engine minus two cylinders. Alex had no issues keeping up with us and in fact might get the award for the most aggressive driver on this trip. You can always tell the difference between a Standard Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Quadrifoglio as the Quadrifoglio has the 4 leaf clover on the fender where the standard Giulia does not. The Alfa has a ZF automatic transmission which is also rated a great automatic transmission and of course faster than a manual.
Then of course there is me in my 2016 Corvette Z06 with a 6.2L 650 hp and 650 ft lb torque. Though I have more power than the other cars in the group, there was some concern of whether I would be able to keep up with manual transmission against the quick shifting automatics…… lets just say I did OK.
Wow!! Hwy 36 was definelty an epic drive. The “NEXT 140 MILES” of two lane road was amazing with long straights, tight switchbacks, roller coaster hills, big sweepers and great elevation changes.
Alex had a great set up with camera’s in his car. He had one showing the road ahead, one for the road behind and one to show the side. He also had a camera inside as he described the road and the drive along with a drone that he used a couple of times to get some great shots from above. Alex put together a great video of our trip, you can view it here. It runs about 31 minutes.
All four of had walkie-talkies that we were able to communicate with each other. This was great as we were able to take turns leading, following and making passes so we could share with each other whether or not it was safe to pass. This really added a level a safety for all of us and I would highly recommend using walkie-talkies when doing road trips like this.
As with most road trips of this type there is the occasional slow car that you get behind and passing is not always an option. For the most part, all the cars that we got behind would pull over at their earliest opportunity and let us pass. There were two vehicles that stand out as not wanting to move over. The 1st was a little red car (not sure what make). It was trying desperately to stay ahead of us. The car was driving a little to fast for what it could handle, though it hung in there for as long as it could and eventually pulled over. The other was a large white dually pick up truck. This truck was amazing as it was really moving. We did have to slow just a bit behind this truck……………. but not much. This truck was moving so quickly that we really didn’t mind being behind it for a while. It eventually pulled over as we passed through a small town.
Why was this road trip better than a track day? If you have ever been to a track day, you typically do not spend more than 20 to 30 minutes on the track at a time. You will be on the track for about 20 minutes and then off and wait around for an hour or so and then back on the track for another 20 to 30 minutes. On this trip we were driving hard for over an hour. I had never been able to drive that aggressively for that amount of time before. About an hour into our drive we all pulled over to the side of the road for about a 10-minute break. My adrenalin was going and my palms were sweaty…………… this was amazing. After our brief break we headed out again on our way to Fortuna. In the end we made the run in about 2 hours. We had averaged about 85 mph on this epic 140 mile drive!!
The road once again was the destination…………….. though we did need to find some lunch on the way up and a place to stay and eat dinner so we could make the drive again the next day on our way home.
On the way up to Red Bluff we all stopped in Willows at Nancy’s Airport Cafe at the exit for Hwy 162. This is small local airport with two runways. This is also the same exit that you would take to go to Thunderhill Raceway………. I hope to have a post soon about a track day at Thunderhill!! The food and service were great!!
When we arrived we stayed at the Bear River Casino, just north of Fortuna. We each had brought a bottle of wine with us (amazing we did not break any bottles with the crazy driving we were doing). After checking into our rooms we all met in Mikes room and shared a couple of bottles of wine while we talked about the day and cars and the drive.
We then headed out to dinner. This was another great aspect of Alex’s Alfa Romeo as it was a 4 door, 4 passenger sedan that we were all able to ride together in for dinner. We ate at Angelina Woodfired Kitchen. This was a locally owned farm to table type of place as they had their own farm right next door.
The following morning we all headed down to the Ocean as we were on the coast. Alex got a great shot of this with his drone that you can see in his video. After that we stopped for gas and hit Hwy 36 again for the “NEXT 140 MILES” for another epic drive on our way home.
Another Great Road Trip
This was one of the best road trips I’ve had to date. What could be better, a great road, great cars and great friend!!
I would like to take this trip again with Miss Linda………. at a slightly slower pace and enjoy the scenery a little more.
This was another great road trip in our series of Best California Road Trips.
This was just a quick little 1 day trip up to Georgetown Ca. It was a Sunday morning in mid February, the sun was out and the sky’s were clear……. a beautiful day. The temperature was in the mid to high 50s, so it was still a little nippy out. A little ice on the road would make for bit of a nervous and cautious adventure. We planned on leaving around 10:00 AM that morning and getting to Georgetown around lunchtime as it would take between about two hours to get there. With that we were off to another in our series of Best California Road Trips.
A day trip does not require a lot of planning. So this plan came together Sunday morning and a little later we were on the road. We would leave at about 10:00 AM and get to Georgetown about noon and find a place to eat. After that, we would head out to Wentworth Springs Rd. This starts out as Main Street in Georgetown and heads east. As you are leaving Georgetown it becomes Wentworth Springs Rd.
Wentworth Springs Rd is Approximately 35 miles until you reach a fork in the road that is Ice House Rd. Our plan was to drive to Ice House Rd and then turn around and come back. Today our trip was more about the driving than the destination.
Of course we are in the Z06 again. We were able to take the top off the car today as it was a beautiful clear sunny day. We did have sweatshirts and the heater on as it was only about 58 degrees outside. It was so nice to feel the cool crisp air, the rumble of the car as we enjoyed the nice mountain road.
As much as I love this car, it and I are “fair weather” road trippers. My wife and I try to avoid rain, ice and snow. On this day we would find some ice on the road.
The car has many driving modes, one of them being a weather mode. I was able to try out weather mode on a track day when they were showing us driving skills. They put us out on a wide open patch of pavement covered in water. They had us try to maintain control as we made high speed turns on the wet surface………… needless to say it was difficult to maintain control of the car and most of us were doing donuts. The instructors had us put the car in “weather mode” and we tried again. It was completely impossible to make the car spin out or do a donut…………….. so it does work. Even with that great feature we still try to avoid those days when the weather is not great.
The road of course is the reason for the trip. Wentworth Springs Rd is about 35 miles from Georgetown to Ice House Rd. Wentworth Springs Rd does continue on after Ice House Rd, though our plan was to turn around at Ice House Rd and enjoy the road some more on the return trip.
As you know by now I really hate driving on the freeway. I always get nervous and uptight as all the cars are weaving in and out traffic trying to get somewhere………….. I just slow down and watch. It is somewhat strange to some that as I find those nice two lane winding roads, I start driving faster with an aggressive intent, that I actually start to relax and enjoy the road.
We did have about an hour of freeway driving on this trip until we got off of Hwy 50 at the Ponderosa exit which took us to Hwy 193, which is a nice two lane winding road to Georgetown.
Wentworth Springs Rd is a nice two lane mountain road. It is a nice wide well maintained Rd that has some nice tight turns, big sweepers and some nice hills and drops. As we were about 15 miles along we passed by Stumpy Meadow Lake. Then as we get to the higher elevations we can also see the remains of a California forest fire. There is a lot of evidence of fire with some barren land and burnt remains of the trees that stood in the distance.
On this day our trip was cut short. Though the weather was great, it was still the middle of February. There had not been any snow in the area for over a month and we did not expect any issues. We did notice about 5 miles into our drive that there were a lot of wet patches in the shade and then about 15 miles in we saw some ice on the shoulder of the road. This of course caused us to slow down a bit and not be as aggressive with our driving, though we would continue on. Then about 20 miles in we came to a section of the road were about three quarters of the road was covered with ice………….. this made us a little more cautious. In fact at this point we decided it would be best to turn around and not press our luck.
Well, the destination was Georgetown where Wentworth Springs Rd begins. My lovely wife Miss Linda as she usually does was checking out Yelp as we drove to Georgetown. She found a nice little place called “The Divide”. This turned out to be a great little local favorite. They served an array of burgers and sandwiches. My wife had a BLT with parmesan crusted sour dough bread that was great. I had a grilled cheese with bacon also on the parmesan crusted sourdough bread that was also great. One of the joys of our road trips are these little places that we find that you would never know about.
Such a great day!!! A trip such as this is so nice as it does not take a lot of planning and is a great way to spend a day. The joy of the road, the beautiful weather, my lovely wife Miss Linda and the wind blowing through our hair……… or across my shiny head………….Even with the drive being cut short because of some ice in the road, it was still a great way to spend the day. Always enjoy the road!!