Fly & Buy
After eluding to it last month, I have officially sold my FRS which has been covered ad nauseum here. Sorry, not sorry. That car was actually purchased by a fan of the podcast, and the new owner seems to be absolutely thrilled with it. In my article last month, I eased into the idea of my NEXT sports car by renting a Corvette. It wasn’t the exact spec I was thinking about buying, but it was close enough to test the waters and verify that a 6th Generation Corvette would indeed be my next car.
I had "window shopped" C6 Vettes for nearly a year, but when it came down to actually BUYING things get a bit harder. Between research and the Turo rental, I had a pretty strict list of requirements. Admittedly pretty picky for a 8-11 year old used car.
NEEDS: 2010-2013 Grand Sport Coupe Manual Transmission Sub-50k Miles 3LT Trim Package (comes with a slew of stuff like heated seats, HUD, etc. but biggest plus is the telescoping steering wheel which was absent in my rental and absolutely necessary to ‘fix’ the ergonomic problems I had with that base model car).
WANTS: SUB-30k Miles Color choices - I had an order, but ideally a dark metallic red that Chevrolet called “Crystal Red Metallic” A car that had kind of been babied - basically just not a 4-season daily driver, as I don't want to inherit salt damage on a car that won't ever see it in my ownership.
Sometimes for the right car you have to broaden your search radius. If you’re picky, you might not find exactly what you’re looking for in your zip code, area code, etc. Well, I was picky, and when I found this “Perfect” spec car, I had to have it. Even if It was nearly 1000 miles away in Dallas, TX. It was everything I wanted, down to my first choice in paint color, and had just 14,400 miles with a clean Carfax report.
I initially found shipping rates that were shockingly reasonable - as low as 700 dollars, but knowing I was getting close to the end of the driving season where I’d get to enjoy the car much, I opted for the hallowed “Fly N Buy” to make this purchase extra special. I would save money, and get more of a chance to get some decent driving time in the car before snow falls at home any day at that point.
SO, I bought the car (I’ll save the boring buying details), and bought a cheap 98 dollar one-way plane ticket. I landed in Dallas at 2:30pm, hopped on an Uber from the airport to the dealership that had the car and was looking at my new ride at 3:00pm. I got the keys, gave it a quick once-over and was out of there at 3:15!
Being the BBQ Tsar that I am, I can’t rightfully go to Texas without getting some Brisket. After a quick (and delicious) stop at Lockhart’s Smokehouse I filled up the gas tank, took the roof off and headed home.
I had picked out my general route in advance. The mileage home was to be done as efficiently as possible, with only one overnight stop. More than that would’ve required time off work, and also eaten up my shipping savings with more meals and another night in a hotel. I did make sure that I got off the beaten path a bit so I could enjoy myself and not just drone on the highway for 16hrs but not so much that I waste a ton of time.
I headed north to Oklahoma, and veered off the interstate to go through a reservation that also encompassed a state park and the Talimena National Scenic Byway - which was absolutely lovely at sunset. My overnight stay was just over the border into Fort Smith, Arkansas. I covered 265 or so miles that first evening - parking it for the first time since Dallas. I had a hard time having it 'sink in' that the car was actually mine, hence random gas station pics galore for the 2 days on the road.
The next morning, I got up EARLY, gassed up, had a spectacular breakfast at the Hillbilly Hideout (which was attached to a gas station) and spent my first few hours blasting through the twisty mountain roads of the Ozarks. It’s an area I have been through numerous times on a motorcycle, but never in a car.
The Corvette’s low, wide stance and frankly enormous tires (325mm out back!) have more mechanical grip than any road going vehicle has any business having. Even without pushing hard at all, it was easy to take the tight and twisty switchback roads at nearly double the speed limit and all the while never breaking grip as long as I wasn’t mashing the throttle. For a car that is SO defined by the huge engine, it handles so much better than most people give it credit for.
Also, because of timing, it was pitch black through the absolute gnarliest portion of the trip - AR 23 - a.k.a. The Pig Trail. Not ideal, but getting to watch the sun rise over peaks was a good experience in my new car, and 100 more fun miles really did wonders to get my affection for it kick-started.
Once I got into Missouri, I needed to mostly bee-line home. Making the rest of my travel done on the major highways between Springfield, MO and Chicago. Nothing much to report in terms of excitement, but similarly to my delight at the car’s fantastic road holding ability as a sports car, it proved to be an equally terrific GT car on the open road. Smooth, relatively quiet, and comfortable. It glides over road imperfections without bothering you, yet still transmits a good amount of surface information to the hands. Also, since it’s geared to do 180+ mph, it churns under 2000 RPM at 80mph and I was averaging nearly 24mpg on my trip.
Honestly, no car with so much handling and dynamic potential, such raw fury under the hood and insane speed capabilities has any business being such a wonderful car to soak up miles with.
Ultimately I made it home almost exactly 24 hours after I ate the BBQ immediately after picking up the car. I got out and wasn’t even sore or tired and gave it a wash before I even sat down. It’s that good a road trip car. Final tally was 981.x miles door to door. I ended up spending about 380 dollars in all - vs 750 to ship the car home. I’d call that a win.
But I don't care about the small win for the money saving - but more for the whole endeavor. I had always daydreamed about how cool it would be to buy a car out of state and have the first day(s) with it driving home on a mega road trip. I usually don’t have a great reason to do this, as shopping near home offers me basically everything I need most of the time. But I saw this as a worthy excuse to make that dream happen.
I honestly had a WONDERFUL time on this mini-adventure. I got to know the car SO well, and bonded with it on (literally) day one. I will share more on the car later - It will get a thorough review in the spring once I start driving it OFTEN, as the weather here is turning bad quickly. But suffice to say, I absolutely LOVE the Grand Sport. I’m so pleased, and while it was hard to fathom selling my FRS before locking in its replacement, I honestly can report that I have zero regret, and am SO excited to start my ownership with this little red Corvette.
I implore anyone who is shopping for a special car to do the same as I did, and shop far away. If you’re able to, make the buying experience special and memorable by making it a journey.
You won’t regret it.
I write and I know things. I am also the resident motorcycle expert at Everyday Driver - check out the Cycle Report - www.thecyclereport.com - on our YouTube channel. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.