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Question of the Week: What is the worst road trip car?

The open road calls to every car enthusiast in different ways—a short trip down main street, a color tour of the county, an epic cross-country adventure. The saying goes “a tool for every job” which we take to mean there is a right—and therefore a wrong—car for each type of enjoyment.


This Sunbeam might be pretty good, but is there better? (Photo Hagerty)

Road trips are the most demanding on a vintage car. The conditions unpredictable, the running hours long, and if the car isn’t comfortable you just aren’t going to have a good time. A ‘60s Cadillac stands a chance of being a nice highway cruiser, but even though there is luggage space in a Ferrari 308, it might not be the most fun for a high-mile trip.

So tell us what you think would be the worst choice below and why? Propensity to overheat? Roof that doesn’t seal and leaks on you passenger? No luggage space? Tell us about it below.

Three experiences leave no doubt:

Bugeye A-H Sprite.

For numerous reasons.

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Anything that is so odd that you can’t get common parts at a NAPA store or replacement tires at a Discount.
Even though you go over what you think is everything, it’s old and stuff breaks.

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This is a trick question! Let’s assume the car is brand new, regardless of its actual age, and the road trip is on US interstates at today’s speeds. Then the answer is easy: a Yugo, tied with a Robin Reliant, tied with a Trabant. The former would break down, the second would explode and/or roll over in a corner, the third would be so unpleasant you would crash it.

Otherwise, just about any car sold in North America since 1950 and in as-new condition should be able to cross the continent (at least once) at legal speeds. Well, maybe not a King Midget. Today’s highway speeds are beyond it. So we have a winner (or rather, a loser).

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Nissan Pulsar NX because they rode like a skateboard. There would be no sleeping at the wheel because you could feel a cigarette butt if you happened to roll over it.

Phil in TX

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‘57 T-Bird. Every time we went with the local T-Bird group, we came home on the hook. It was just a garage/show queen, and is now someone else’s headache…

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Two door Chevy Chevette, three guys, 6 ft and two 6-4 , 700 miles.

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4 people drove from Colorado to Boston in a Saturn SC coupe - 2 adults and 2 large children. with luggage for a week stay.

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A Tesla , 6 days from Pa. to San Francisco. I kept a record of starting & ending times & milage each day . The worst was in & around Utah where we averaged 37 mph for the day ( includes charging). We live at mile marker 236 on Rt 80, headed toward Ohio . 5 1/2 hrs later we were still in Pa . No construction , wrecks or breakdowns.

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Porsche 928 ,hands down for long distance driving

The worst road trip car is the one that doesn’t meet any of your needs. If four adults are traveling, any car that doesn’t fit two adults comfortably in the back could qualify. If there’s not enough room for your stuff and you have to carry items on the roof or tow a trailer, that might make it bad enough to be on your list.

For me, any vintage car is not likely a good candidate as a road trip car. The chances of a breakdown rises substantially with vehicles older than about 15 years and would be guaranteed in cars over 25 years.

Any vehicle that is not reliable and comfortable would be on my “worst” list. If I have to name names, I’d go with @agow, who named some seriously hideous junk. :smiley:

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Drove a 1961 TR3A from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas in 1967. Someplace in Kansas, the starter quit. Luckily, the Brits had still seen the wisdom of including a hand crank in 1961 so we made it the rest of the way using that to start the car. For that reason alone, it’s my personal top worst car to use for a road trip. That and the top wanting to unsnap from the windshield at speed in a rainstorm. :grimacing:

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A flathead Morris Minor would be so frustrating you’d want to head for home after a day.

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Cadillac Escalade. Uncomfortable back seats, noisy engine and exhaust, weak A/C at in-town speeds.

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The oxymoron - Smartcar. load it up and head on out.

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I would throw the Yugo and Smart car in the same toilet for a roadtrip.
Long live the “Family Truckster”

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The one that comes immediately to mind is an original Lotus Seven. That said, I’ll probably buy another if the opportunity arises.

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OH NO!! Van, you just busted my bubble! Why no 928?! I was thinking about trading the Caddy convertible for one to do the epic route 66 drive. Now i’m idling. Tell me more!

My college roommate and I headed from East Lansing to Florida for spring break in 1977 in a green Ford Pinto.

We had a CB to get the truckers’ help in exceeding the double nickel, which was pushing it in that Pinto. For air conditioning, we had the 2-55 system: roll down two windows and go 55 MPH. Entertainment was provided by an 8-track tape player with only four tapes. It was an excruciating trip, but worth it.