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Dream drives for summer: An expert’s picks for great road and vehicle pairings

“The perfect combination of gorgeous scenery and an awesome car is a heady experience,” says Matt Farah co-star of Speed’s “The Car Show.”

SUMMER and scenic drives go hand in hand, and even high gas prices can’t keep Americans away from miles of highway that wind through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.

When you’re taking a scenic drive, the right vehicle can make the experience even better. “Matching a great road to the right car is like pairing gourmet cuisine and fine wine,” says Matt Farah co-star of Speed’s “The Car Show,” which premiered in July. “The perfect combination of gorgeous scenery and an awesome car is a heady experience.”

Hitting the road this summer in your beat-up, but reliable old Chevy pickup? There’s nothing wrong with that. But you can always dream, right? And if you’re looking for a dream drive, here are Farah’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. “The Corvette ZR1 is the perfect vehicle for this drive because it’s got tons of horsepower,” Farah says. “And it’s the kind of car that you can go out and put miles on it and not worry about it losing value. It’s reliable, powerful and looks great.”

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. You’ll see wild buffalo and antelope grazing beside the highway in broad plains that go all the way to the horizon. “Driving the Phantom is like driving on a cloud,” Farah says. And the Drophead’s massive front grill and 6,000 pounds of pure powerful heft ensure that if you have an encounter with any of the region’s large wildlife, “you’re probably going to win,” 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. “And it’s always empty,” Farah notes. For this drive, he favors the light and nimble Lotus Elise SC, which Lotus describes as “the ultimate evolution of the Elise.”

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. It’s an easy drive for beginners, but offers stunning scenery. The Astin Martin is Farah’s pick for this drive because of the vehicle’s rich, powerful sound. Topgear.com says the DBS Volante is “all about noise: monstrous, glorious, technicolor noise.” And that noise sounds even more spectacular and powerful echoing off Route 33’s canyon walls, Farah says.

And, Farah’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. “The road doesn’t start at anything important and really goes nowhere,” Farah says. “It’s just there for you to enjoy.” High elevation and tight turns make the road technically challenging and a 25-mile stretch unbroken by driveways or intersections ensures you’ll have no interruptions. The Ferrari’s light, nimble steering and outstanding rack and balance make it the perfect vehicle to handle this fun, exciting road. (ARA)

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