Supercars & Road Trips

1st Impressions: McLaren 720S Spider
January 13, 2019
48 Hours with a McLaren 600LT
February 1, 2019

Of all the experiences we have had with the various supercars we have owned over the years, some of the most memorable are the road trips.  While doing a major road trip in a great car on your own is fun, doing it with a group of fellow enthusiasts can be epic.   The sound and sight of a line of Ferraris, McLarens, and Porsches cutting through a rural valley or climbing a mountain road always puts a huge smile on my face.  Over the years I have been fortunate enough to be able to do road trips of varying lengths in multiple McLarens, Ferraris, Porsches, the Mosler MT 900S, and a Koenigsegg CCR.

In terms of a solo trip, probably the most memorable one was 10 years ago with the Ferrari F40 in Italy.  Driving an F40 in Italy is probably the closest I will ever come to being a celebrity.  Everyone I saw had a smile for the car and the number of camera phones pointed at it was countless.  Traffic in small towns actually parted to let me through and even the Carabinieri gave the car a big thumbs up.   One officer, who came over to talk to me at a petrol stop, told me to enjoy the roads in Italy, but to be careful when I crossed over into France as the French police don’t like Ferraris.  It just doesn’t get much better than that.  The net opposite of this was getting pulled over in Spain basically for driving a Porsche 911 (993) Turbo with British plates. In this case the Spanish gendarmerie gave up and let us go on our way after I gave him the UK registration papers, a German Driver’s License, and a US Passport.  The look of confusion on his face on what to do with the mix of documents was priceless.

While a solo trip can be great, sharing the experience with a group of friends adds another dimension to the trip.  While we have done a few larger group tours, I have found that a smaller group of 5-8 cars is preferred as the convoy and overall logistics are much easier to manage.  On these trips, we live by the rule of the 5 “Greats”: great cars, great roads, great hotels, great food, and great company.  With a bit of work and planning this is not a hard equation to pull off.  While the cars and routes are the core, getting the rest of the elements right makes the difference between a good couple of days out and an epic experience.  For the hotels and many of the restaurants, we tend to use Relais & Chateaux establishments ( https://www.relaischateaux.com/us/).  The Relais & Chateaux hotels are consistently excellent and most have an outstanding restaurant on site.  On some days, we have as much fun at the dinners as on the drive.   In terms of destinations, our favorite ones so far are the Alps, the Highlands, North Wales, Southern France, and Northern Italy.

On all the different cars I have taken on trips, probably the three best have been the McLaren 675LT Spider, the Ferrari F40, and the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. All three have plenty of luggage space (in my opinion, possibly not Mrs. SSO’s) for two for a week-long trip, are comfortable to live in for extended periods (although Mrs. SSO has an eight-hour limit in the F40) and are completely engaging to drive.  All of these cars have been pushed hard all day long for multiple days without missing a beat.  We have done over 1000 miles in a day in the McLaren 675LT Spider and driven the F40 straight through from Nice to Madrid only stopping for gas.  You can run all of these cars up and down a mountain road without having to worry about brake fade or overheating.  On all the cars we have owned, the best one in the mountains is the 657LT Spider and the best for long distance cruising, the Ferrari 550 Maranello.

Of all the trips, the drives that stand out the most are the SS67 from Florence to San Marino in the F40, the stunningly beautiful and seemingly unending A832 in the Highlands in the 430 Scuderia, and pushing the F40 hard up and down the Furka & St. Gotthard passes in Switzerland.  In the next group, I would include running a Ferrari 512BB on the A63 at dawn across the Pyrenees to Bordeaux, driving the Ferrari F50 on the N247 along the cliffs near Sintra in Portugal, Montana to Texas in a day in the McLaren 675LT Spider, and using the Mosler MT900S to carve up the EVO triangle in Wales.  We have kept the route maps for all these trips just in case we get the chance to go back.

Clearly, we are not “low miles” car people.  All cars we acquire come with the intent that they will be used. It is a house rule that any car that isn’t getting used, gets sold.  Just about all the road trips we do cover 1,000 miles or more.  The best way to get to know a car really well is to take it on a week-long drive.  We try to do at least one major road trip a year and, in many years, these are the vacations we remember the most fondly.  The big question right now is where this year’s will be.

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January 2019

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