SUMMER and scenic drives go hand in hand, and even high gas prices canâ€™t keep Americans away from miles of highway that wind through some of the countryâ€™s most beautiful landscapes.
When youâ€™re taking a scenic drive, the right vehicle can make the experience even better. â€œMatching a great road to the right car is like pairing gourmet cuisine and fine wine,â€ says Matt Farah co-star of Speedâ€™s â€œThe Car Show,â€ which premiered in July. â€œThe perfect combination of gorgeous scenery and an awesome car is a heady experience.â€
Hitting the road this summer in your beat-up, but reliable old Chevy pickup? Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that. But you can always dream, right? And if youâ€™re looking for a dream drive, here are Farahâ€™s top five great road and vehicle pairings for scenic summer cruising:
5. Route 292, Patterson, N.Y., and the Corvette ZR1
Hop on 292 and head north out of Patterson. The road climbs through the Catskill Mountains, passing picturesque farms and homesteads throughout northern West Chester County. â€œThe Corvette ZR1 is the perfect vehicle for this drive because itâ€™s got tons of horsepower,â€ Farah says. â€œAnd itâ€™s the kind of car that you can go out and put miles on it and not worry about it losing value. Itâ€™s reliable, powerful and looks great.â€
4. Interstate 90, South Dakota and the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead
Interstate 90 is a straight shot across the state of South Dakota and passes through rolling plains and quaint towns. Get on anywhere on the eastern side of the state and head west toward the Black Hills. Youâ€™ll see wild buffalo and antelope grazing beside the highway in broad plains that go all the way to the horizon. â€œDriving the Phantom is like driving on a cloud,â€ Farah says. And the Dropheadâ€™s massive front grill and 6,000 pounds of pure powerful heft ensure that if you have an encounter with any of the regionâ€™s large wildlife, â€œyouâ€™re probably going to win,â€ he notes.
3. Latigo Canyon Road, Malibu, Calif., and the Lotus Elise SC supercharged
Latigo Canyon Road runs parallel to the more famous – and always crowded – Mulholland Drive. The road offers lovely scenery and a tighter, more technically demanding driving experience than Mulholland. â€œAnd itâ€™s always empty,â€ Farah notes. For this drive, he favors the light and nimble Lotus Elise SC, which Lotus describes as â€œthe ultimate evolution of the Elise.â€
2. Route 33, Ojai, Calif., and the Astin Martin DBS Volante
Route 33 travels through multiple elevations, carrying drivers down through a breath-taking canyon and back up over the mountains. Itâ€™s an easy drive for beginners, but offers stunning scenery. The Astin Martin is Farahâ€™s pick for this drive because of the vehicleâ€™s rich, powerful sound. Topgear.com says the DBS Volante is â€œall about noise: monstrous, glorious, technicolor noise.â€ And that noise sounds even more spectacular and powerful echoing off Route 33â€™s canyon walls, Farah says.
And, Farahâ€™s No. 1 scenic drive and vehicle pairing is…
Glendora Mountain Road/Glendora Ridge Road in California and the Ferrari 458 Italia
Running through the scenic landscape north of Los Angeles, Glendora Mountain Road is another California highway rarity. â€œThe road doesnâ€™t start at anything important and really goes nowhere,â€ Farah says. â€œItâ€™s just there for you to enjoy.â€ High elevation and tight turns make the road technically challenging and a 25-mile stretch unbroken by driveways or intersections ensures youâ€™ll have no interruptions. The Ferrariâ€™s light, nimble steering and outstanding rack and balance make it the perfect vehicle to handle this fun, exciting road. (ARA)