Reader Submissions: Would You Buy A One-Way Ticket To Start A Road Trip?

Would You Buy A One-Way Ticket To Start A Road Trip?

By Petrolicious Productions
September 8, 2015
22 comments

Story & Photography by Mike Choi

I had been on a search for a Porsche 964 for about four months when I saw a listing on AutoTrader for a Baltic Blue 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4. I called the seller and was only the second person to reach him. We built up a good rapport, starting with the fact that we both daily drive Audi RS cars, him an RS4 and me an RS5. He was very helpful in taking it for an inspection—as most 964s these days will sell within hours sight unseen if priced right.

Why go through all this trouble? I’ve always wanted to buy a car from far away and drive it back home.

With the car given a thorough inspection, including compression and leakdown tests, my friend Scott and I booked a one way flight from LAX to Wichita, KS. We took a redeye to ICT airport and was picked up by the seller in said RS4. We examined the car, and it was actually in better condition than I expected. The seller also turned out to be as nice a guy as he was on the phone.

He had owned it for 15 years and had driven it 10,000 miles. He was glad that someone was going to drive it more in two days than he had in two years. We headed to a Walmart and stocked up on snacks, a gas can, oil, towels and painters’ tape for the front end. We started in Wichita and stopped in Oklahoma City, Amarillo, and Albuquerque for the night.

The tally? Seven hundred miles in 11 hours. The car performed flawlessly. The ride wasn’t too stiff, and we didn’t have to use the heavy clutch all that much. The second part of the trip was from Albuquerque through Flagstaff, to Los Angeles. We drove 800 miles on the second day without any problems with the car.

Blessedly, we didn’t encounter any traffic, flat tires or accidents. Driving a new-to-you car 1,500 miles in two days makes you real familiar with it. I got to know the car in a very short amount of time. Scott also acquired an unexpected appreciation for air-cooled Porsches.

Why go through all of this trouble? We both have families, so seeing them was motivation to keep the trip short. It was a great experience, and I will cherish the memories forever.

Note: The pictures were taken with a Canon F1 camera on Kodak Ektar film.

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jsmith116bb
jsmith116bb
2 years ago

I’ve done this with a 2007 Cayman S. Flew from NC to Grand Junction, CO. Drove it back nearly 2,000 miles over 3 days with my father and had a blast the whole way. The car performed wonderfully, and even got pretty good gas mileage.

Emil Jonsson
Emil Jonsson
5 years ago

I have done it but not with a Classic. Or maybe it kind of is. It’s a Porsche 911 (997).

My wife pushed me to pull the trigger but the car was in a dealership 550 km away. I called before and checked the condition of the car. Then we booked a one way train ticket. Car proved to be a gem. It was a perfect August day and we were driving top down through Stockholm and then through the countryside home. My wife was also driving and I will never forget when she shifted two gears down and floored it. Could see she was in a bit of a shock and then she said “NOW I know what you mean when you said sports car”. Car is now a family member.

Godwin Chen
Godwin Chen
6 years ago

My car is not a classic but I will share this story anyway. About 10 years ago I was bought a 05 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon against my wishes – I thought my 91 Acura Legend served me just fine. However, I began to fall in love with the car as it powered through upstate winters and transported cavernous amounts of cargo to and from home at the end of each year. When I moved to Chicago later in my career, I ditched the car to rely on public transportation. Fast forward another few years and I moved back to New York and was in the market for a car again. I knew I wanted a sporty wagon that was reliable and had AWD. These criteria narrowed down my choices quite a bit and these cars had price tags that could not be justified at this point in my career. I started browsing my old Legacy forum and laid eyes on a beauty. The matte black paint was not my taste, but it was otherwise well sorted with an especially appealing 6-speed swapped transmission. My first Legacy had a 5-speed automatic and I always wanted a car with three pedals. A month and one stick-shift lesson later, I had bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco and caught a Craigslist ride share up to Humboldt County five hours north. I arrived at the sellers house close to midnight, and after a beer set off for a local hostel. Traffic was dead at that hour so I had little trouble navigating the gears and I was giddy with excitement. I slept little that night and woke up early next morning to begin my trip back to SF. I had a terrible time making my way out of Arcata, stalling the car as traffic built up behind me – at times my nerves were so bad I parked the car to sprint around the block just to calm the shakes. It was hard to control the stage three clutch when I couldn’t hold my foot still. Despite the rough start, and a quick stop to Kinko’s to print a makeshift sign, it was a beautiful first day of car ownership.

On day one I drove through Highway 1. On day two I drove the Pacific Coast Highway. Day three I drove to Las Vegas for a four day reunion, followed by Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Park. I visited Denver to see an old friend, then a gratifying visit to an establishment in Des Moines, Iowa called the “Lumberyard.” I stopped for a few days to see my old stomping grounds in Chicago before departing back to New York where I completed my trip at the Brooklyn Promenade. It was an unforgettable trip and writing about it reminds me of those honeymoon phase with the wagon.

If you want to see some of the photos from the trip they’re on my Instagram [url=”https://instagram.com/explore/tags/godwinseesamerica/”]here[/url].

David Carroll
David Carroll
6 years ago

Flew from Pittsburgh to Long Island to buy a sight-unseen ’72 TR6. Started raining on the LIE, careered across the Williamsburg Bridge in almost zero visibility (had to pull over to call the seller to find out how the lights worked – I had never encountered a Hi/Lo foot switch before), battled with the taxis in rush hour traffic, in the pouring rain, getting across lower Manhattan, then through the Holland Tunnel and out west, looking up at the underbellies of adjacent 18-wheelers. The drive back to Pittsburgh took ~11 hours, and I was half deaf from the droning of the Monza exhaust, but the TR was a trooper – didn’t miss a beat, and the roof hardly leaked at all 😉

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer
6 years ago

I bought an ’06 BMW M Coupe in Lubbock Texas a few years ago, flew in to retrieve it and had a two day window to drive the 1900 miles back home to Oregon. I did it averaging 98.8 Miles an hour which it turns out I can keep up for about 14 hrs straight before I start hallucinating that road signs are jumping into the road at me and time space is warping.

Luke Stroud
Luke Stroud
6 years ago
Reply to  Sid Widmer

My God, man. That is beautiful. The M Coupe only seems to get better with age.

Riccardo
Riccardo
6 years ago

I certainly would, often have dreamt about flying to California and buying some old Mercedes (W113 or W108) and driving it back to NY and then ship it home to London. Now that would be a proper road trip!

When I bought my own 964 I looked at 12 cars all over Europe, in the end I bought one which was just 1 mile from my home. However, when I sold it a few years later the next owner flew over from Sweden (to London) to buy it and I needed to drive it with him back for insurance reasons. The opposite but I suppose it still counts!

Jason Gipson
Jason Gipson
6 years ago

this is how you do it friends..

Cincinnati to Portland, OR.

Jason Gipson
Jason Gipson
6 years ago
Reply to  Jason Gipson

[url=”http://i283.photobucket.com/albums/kk299/jasongipson/6ad6d8c5.jpg”]Your text to link…[/url]

Leslie Reissner
Leslie Reissner
6 years ago

This a great way to buy a car! In April my wife and I were on the 4 hour flight from our home in Ontario to Edmonton, Alberta, and then went off to a GM dealership where we picked up our new-to-us 2008 C6 Corvette. The 4,200 km drive back was through Jasper, Banff (via the Icefield Parkway), Drumheller (the Royal Tyrrell Museum), Winnipeg and Thunder Bay to Ottawa–five days, three time zones and some dramatic differences in landscape. It was fun to discover our own country but also to get really familiar with the car. However, I purposely bought a GM CPO car in order that any issues en route would be covered although I had confidence in a car with only 30,000 kms/18,000 miles on it. Definitely my most expensive vacation but probably the best one.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
6 years ago

In a word …. NO !

In part because I want the previous owner within striking distance should the car turn out to be a lemon/dog … and in part because I have no desire to ruin a potentially enjoyable road trip with what may at best be a questionable car . Add in my living in CO and why would I buy a car from anywhere else ?

But hey … a full ten points plus for going analogue with the camera and film . Now all we need to do is get you upgraded into a Leica M series and some B&W film and you’ll be top o’ the pops in my book [ I highly recommend the M6 by the way … my camera of choice ]

Jarrod H
Jarrod H
6 years ago

I have. Flew from BWI to New Orleans and drove back a 1983 Toyota BJ60 Land Cruiser.

Chad Person
Chad Person
6 years ago

Mine was a 911 SC back in 2012…flew solo to Ft. Lauderdale as [url=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_Storm_Beryl_(2012)”]Tropical Storm Beryl (2012)[/url] was about to come ashore on Memorial weekend. First afternoon / evening trek only a short run up near Orlando as the rain pounded down and my new car had a header set up with no fan/air/defrost whatsoever…..just a roll of paper towels!! Day Two, more rain to the Georgia border….stop for a quick stop, car won’t start, a quick troubleshoot over the phone with Aaron at Flat Six back in Minneapolis and I need a new starter…push start, get on road heading north and an appointment with a euro repair shop in Macon, GA awaits….they have me back on the road after lunch. Straight to Tail of the Dragon and then into Knoxville, TN. Day Three to Chicago, a quick stop at WeatherTech Factory, dinner with old friends….then Day 4 home to Minneapolis…..the most trouble I have had with the car was in the first 24 hours and it has paid me back in so so may ways both on that trip and since. I can’t wait to find one far away again.

Chad Person
Chad Person
6 years ago
Reply to  Chad Person

I wonder if the fun of these trips is the reason I passed up on a 964 a few months ago that was just a short mile from my home?

Merrill Aldrich
Merrill Aldrich
6 years ago

I bought my 1988 911 Targa last Fall – flew to Colorado to pick it up, and drove it the 1200 miles to AL to winter with my father. It was a blast! Pelican friends kept me company the whole ride on this [url=”http://forums.pelicanparts.com/porsche-911-technical-forum/842909-road-trip-pick-up-my-first-911-a.html”]thread.[/url]
Around Easter my wife and I flew down to AL and drove her back to our home in St. Paul, MN. If the car has no major issues, this can be a whole lot of fun.

Frank Wulfers
Frank Wulfers
6 years ago

I live in Michigan and bought cars in California, Florida (twice) and New York. The Saabs are not as exciting as a 911 but the drive home is just as fun. Also bought a new Saab, picked up in Trollhattan, cruised through Europe and finally delivered in California. The only way to by a car is one as far away from home as possible. And not go straight home but make a vacation out of it. 🙂
From CA to MI: http://rovingadventurer.net/road-trip-from-california-to-michigan/

ERIK JENSEN
ERIK JENSEN
6 years ago

Im really glad to see someone using an F1 and film these days. I still love using mine too. Its a lot like driving a classic car in many ways, not as fast as a new one, not as automatic as a new one, just a lot of fun! nice job!

Mark St Clair
Mark St Clair
6 years ago

“The ride wasn’t too stiff, and we didn’t have to use the heavy clutch all that much.”

Are you sure that this is the car for you?

Jim Murray
Jim Murray
6 years ago

Beautiful! I am so jealous 🙂 I’ve always wanted a 911 (model not too important) but, the finances have never allowed it and now that my two boys are going through College and University my chances are very, very slim. I can always dream! (Buys lottery ticket and preys more like, lol!)

Don Curtis
Don Curtis
6 years ago

I flew from Charleston, SC to Burlington, VT to drive my first Porsche 911 home and then from Charleston to Cleveland, OH to drive the next one home, but I have always wanted to buy one in Cali and drive back across country. I guess That’s where I’ll find my GT3 some day 😉

JB21
JB21
6 years ago

Nice! I currently dream of doing the same with a motorbike – buy one in CA and ride back to MA. There’s really nothing like being on the road, in your new car, and heading home!
By the way, I’m curious, why did you put painter’s tape on the car?

Jim Murray
Jim Murray
6 years ago
Reply to  JB21

It protects the leading edges of the car from stone chips and other foriegn bodies. Good idea if you’re doing a long road trip and are unsure of the road surfaces you will encounter!