Columns / Question of the Week

What’s the best vehicle for summer road trips?


Richard Griot built this bitchin’ 1972 Suburban, loaded up his kids, and hit the road bound for Yellowstone Park. My dad once bought an old V-dub Westfalia just for a road trip to Frisco, then sold it when we got home. It’s an age-old tradition, from the Grapes of Wrath, to the Griswolds, right down to you and me. So…

What’s your ultimate rig for summer road-tripping?


  1. That’s a nice ‘Burban. You’ve got love the giant 2-door station wagon!

    The question depends on how many people are taking the trip. If it’s just two, I think a 928S4 would be a nice choice.

    For a family, an E320 wagon with a Thule box on top would work well.

    (For the record, I grew up road-tripping in a ’77 Dasher 2-door. Tragic.)

  2. When I was a kid, Dad & I would load up the ’72 Volvo 145 with a mattress in the back and a canoe up on top, and go camping at several different high mountain lakes in Oregon. However, my all time favorite road trip was in 2004 with my wife Wendy in our 2003 MINI Cooper towing a Teardrop Trailer. 3 days from Seattle to Chicago, and the next 10 days on Route 66 to New Mexico, then home through Colorado and Oregon with a side trip up Pikes Peak.

  3. @Jason – The Burb’s actually a 3-door. Check out the passenger side.

    @Stephen – All hail the Volvo wagon! I used to have an ’89 760… perfect road-tripper for two people. Mattress in the the back, makeshift curtains pinned to the headliner, and the world (or at least Western Washington) is your campground.

  4. Lord almighty, i wish i had me one of these:

  5. My childhood trips all occurred thanks to a variety of VW busses and campers. But nothing beats the 1973 VW Thing (Acapulco) that was my first car. During the summer it was best suited for road trips across town (thanks to the vapor lock) but in the cooler months it could go anywhere…and only get warm inside once you were there!

  6. @Gabi Was your Acapulco a two or four-door? Did it have one of the tops that look like a storefront awning? I can’t imagine a cooler first car, but maybe this is one of those cases where the idea is awesomer (yeah, I said it) than the reality, eh?

    @mg That’s a great bus. Built by Vegas Volks for the Bullrun tv show.

    • @Mike It was! it had the cool awning and everything. Gabi has a few pictures of it and its waiting to be lovingly restored by her Dad the VW guru, in New Mexico!

  7. Volks are cool, Volvos are awesome but nothing beats the sheer road trip power of my childhood daily shuttle, the 1992 Plymouth Voyager Minivan in dark Maroon with maroon interior. We even named it Vincent-Van-Go. (get it?)

    Take the back seats out and that sets the stage for one of the best road trips ever, My dad, my brother and I going to the Great Sand Dunes, Four Corners and all the other cool stuff in that part of the world. We had a makeshift third seat we made out of milk crates or something else, I was 10, my brother was 7, all three of ate generic cheese balls out of a container I remember being as big as me and my brother.

    That van finally give up the ghost at 252,000 miles that spanned all but two countries in western Europe, the lower 48 states, three Canadian provinces and countless memories. It also ate through brakes like they were candy canes at christmas, chewed through transmissions every so often, the radio stopped working somewhere in the mid 90’s and the dinger that let you know the sliding door was open would often go on so long everyone in my family is, to this day, tone deaf to that specific tone, but it was a great van.

    One other point about that van, Vince where I learned to detail. My dad kept that thing looking so good it shone like new the last day we had it. I learned a lot of the tips and tricks to detailing and learned the value of buying good car wash, window cleaner and best of all, keeping the best possible wax on a finish to keep an old car looking like brand new. Sounds like products from a company we know and love doesnt it?

  8. Saw the 72 Suburban heading north on I-5 on Friday morning. Looking good! Gave the guys thumbs up! It was clear they were heading for fun! Keep up the good work!

  9. Paul Harden says:

    I always thought the older Suburbans were interesting since I saw an article about one set up for towing in an early 80’s issue of Car Craft. I think one of the best recent cars for a road trip are the big GM wagons from the early 90’s.

    I took my first serious road trip thru eastern Canada in the early eighty’s in a black SAAB turbo

  10. I am thinking either the latest 911 turbo, or the Audi AS8 would work well for me. Mind blowing power, awesome handling, A/C units that function well, German reliability , and a nice 8 track player for the rare occasion when you get tired of listening to the exhaust note.

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