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Classic Drives The Usa


For many, cars are not merely a way of getting from A to B. In particular where classic cars are concerned they are part of a dream, an experience, or a way of life.

So we’re going to look at creating those dreams – you’ve got your classic car, where’s the best place to drive it?

Even if you’re not yet the owner of a classic there’s an experience to be had, with bespoke rentals a great way of getting behind the wheel of something super-cool.

For the first in this new series we’re heading Stateside.

And if we inspire you to start looking for one of your own, check out our for sale section.

 

Where to go

The US of A, where to start? Of course, we could recommend a host of drives in all corners of this vast country, but we’re guessing you won’t have months to spend.

So, with that in mind, look no further than the famous Route 66 for a varied taste of the ‘real America’.

It’s the ultimate road trip and a highway so famous that it even has its own song – (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 – this was one of the original highways in the USA.

Also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, it was established on November 11, 1926.

While it’s not quite a coast-to-coast route, it does cover a lot of the country, beginning in the urban sprawl of Chicago, Illinois, and ending on the sun-kissed beach at Santa Monica, California, 2,448 miles later.

Technically it doesn’t actually exist anymore – it was officially removed from the highway system in 1985 after segments were replaced by Interstate routes.

However, many sections have now been designated as ‘Historic Route 66’ and can be followed for those seeking a romantic Americana adventure.

What to take

Let’s be honest, whatever you take it’s got to be big, American and muscly – a V8 is an absolute must. And quite probably a drop-top.

There’s quite a bit of choice, of course. The legendary Ford Mustang – and we mean a proper one from the 1960s – is an obvious choice, but not one that you will regret; few cars will make the Route 66 dream a reality in quite the same way.

But if you want to try something a little less obvious there’s the Pontiac GTO, which is one of the original muscle cars, or perhaps the Plymouth Barracuda or Dodge Charger.

Or perhaps you want to do it in a more traditional – and indeed more practical vehicle. How about a Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon, which was the basis of the car used in the comedy film National Lampoon’s Vacation.

What to see

If you’re planning on hitting Route 66, chances are you’re aiming to embrace and experience that American dream feel, the quiet gas stations, the middle-of-nowhere bars and motels and the diners where the server has a big pot of coffee on the go.

Aside from all of that there are plenty of quirky sights to see along the way – grab yourself a Route 66 map to find more of your own.

Starting with those diners and gas stations, some of them are legendary.

And the first is right at the start in Chicago – get fuelled up for your trip by visiting Lou Mitchell’s. It’s next to the city’s Union Station and is known as the first stop on the Mother Road.

Once you’re on your way, check out Shea’s Gas Station Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Yes, an actual museum about gas stations (petrol stations to you and me). But it’s worth checking out, because these stations were at the very heart of the original Route 66.

A slightly different sight is Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, a few miles off the main road in Foyil, Oklahoma, which was set up by a retired teacher. It’s also home to the world’s largest concrete totem pole.

Make sure you’ve got your camera ready through Arizona – the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and, of course, the Grand Canyon, are some of the most picturesque parts of the route.

One of the quirkiest things to see is Cadillac Ranch – which is pretty much some old Cadillacs stuck in the ground and covered in graffiti – something that visitors are encouraged to join in with. Find it in Amarillo, Texas.

And, finally, the end of the road – spend some time at Santa Monica Pier, which features a delightfully classic American boardwalk at the Pacific Ocean.

How to get there

It’s pretty simple really – the toughest decision will be deciding whether you want to start in Santa Monica or Chicago.

If you’ve got a job to come back to, the good news is that packages are available to nail Route 66 in a fortnight or so – flying into Chicago or LA, hiring a car and then stopping at hotels along the route.

You can either book everything separately yourself or buy a fly-drive package – and many rental companies will be able to sort you out with a suitable classic to enjoy the journey in.

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