Yes, this is boldly named. Yes, I would have preferred to call it something a little more… sexually neutral. Yes, after a name like “Top Queer” it is really hard to come up with another name for something.
This whole thing came about from a friend and I sitting around watching the Top Gear Vietnam special. He mentioned how much he would love to do something like that some day. Thinking about it, I started planning a road trip where we could tow the Buggy to the gulf cost and drive from X to Y or something. The more I looked into it, the more having vehicles that needed to return to their origin was getting in the way, both in terms of time and money.
Long story short, I pitched the idea of flying to San Diego, California, buying cars for less than about $2,500, driving them up the Pacific Coast Highway to Seattle, and selling them there. I mean… how hard could it be?
Being an engineer, this was, of course, approached as an engineering problem. In short order, I had a spec, feasibility analysis, and approximate budget worked up. The tl;dr here is: Yes, we should be able to pull this off.
A conservative estimate puts the total cost of a 2-week road trip at from $2,200 to $5,800 per person, with the latter assuming the participant was unable to sell their vehicle.
Additionally, a decent variety of vehicles are available for less than the target cost (with some assumptions made about haggling).
Legally, we should be in the clear. As two weeks is not enough time to turn around a title, turns out you can sign over a previously released title with some magic bill-of-sale hand waving. Neat! Also if we buy smartly, we should be able to avoid WA and CA emissions inspections!
Of the friends invited, we ended up with the perfect number: three, each willing to purchase their own vehicle.
We had hard dates set and vacation days reserved, but otherwise we kept it pretty free and easy. We wanted to start as far south as possible and end as far north as possible. Starting in LA might have been better as the number of cars available should be far, far larger, but then we couldn’t really say we did the height of the US.
The Reader’s Digest plan was: Start in San Diego, drive the Pacific Coast to Seattle, and see as many friends and destinations as possible on the way.
My plan was to try my hand at videography while my friend Taylor works on the photography.
On September 28th, 2015, we began the adventure. Over the next two weeks we each purchased vehicles, repaired them, and drove 2200 miles from Balboa Park in San Diego to Olympic National Park in Washington State. Along the way there were mechanical breakdowns, traffic jams, and late nights. There was also epic food, amazing drinks, eye watering sunsets, heart stopping roads, and some of the best scenery this country has to offer. It was a truly epic adventure.
The truly surprising parts were that none of us chickened out, though there was a lot of nervous energy, and that all three cars made it!
The biggest hiccup? Well none of us sold the cars as planned. In fact, each of us paid to have the cars shipped home. Time to start working on the garage!