Let me ask you a question: How many of you have spent countless hours online shopping for dream cars that will one day be yours, but the circumstances of life aren’t yet right for ownership? How many hours have you spent dreaming excitedly of the day you’ll get to replace your boring commuter with a car that reflects your true character and personality, but you’re still in school or aren’t yet old enough to buy a car?
That was the story of my life as a car enthusiast until recently, when I realized one of my automotive dreams: purchasing a sports car and using it to see the country. My life finally allowed me to acquire a car that I’d long lusted after: a C6 Chevy Corvette Z06. You’re probably familiar with the Z06: It’s a high-performance version of the Corvette with a larger engine, wider tires, stiffer suspension and improved cooling for extended track use. I love the Corvette Z06 because it’s my personality embodied in a car. It’s brash, bold, excessive, dramatic and loud, and it makes no apologies for any of those things. The LS7 that powers it is a masterpiece that happily revs to 7000 RPM, and it’s big — massively big. Seven liters big. So big that there will likely never again be an engine that size in a production car.
The one that met my needs was a 1-owner example located in sunny San Diego, California, which made me happy because I knew it didn’t suffer through harsh winters. The car was perfect, but the only issue was that I live in Pittsburgh, which is not exactly next door to San Diego. It took me all of five minutes to realize the incredible opportunity that was in front of me: Not only was I about to hit a major life milestone by purchasing my dream car, but I’d get to drive it across the country. I scheduled a prepurchase inspection. I negotiated a price with the seller over the phone, and a week later I was on a plane to the other side of the country to begin the road trip home.
It. Was. Amazing.
"Of course it was amazing," you say, from behind your keyboard with your generic view of what a road trip in a sports car is. But it was amazing for so many reasons other than simply driving a fast car on the highway. It was amazing because I was seeing some of the best scenery that my favorite country has to offer. It was amazing because I could row my own gears through the canyons of Utah. It was amazing because I could lose myself to Motley Crue’s "Kickstart My Heart" while racing through the Rocky Mountains. It was amazing because it was the first time I traveled by myself, and I had to handle any problems on the road trip alone. It was amazing because of the total sense of freedom I felt while looking at the checkered Corvette flags on my dashboard and gorgeous rock formations in Arizona. It was amazing because I had to figure out how to prevent my things from melting when it was 121 degrees for eight hours with malfunctioning air conditioning. It was amazing because I had to figure out why the car wouldn’t start at 5 a.m. in middle-of-nowhere Utah. It was amazing because I rolled into the only gas station in a 50-mile radius with 0.05 gallons left in the tank. It was amazing because I knew I had just made a decision that would help define me for the rest of my life. It was amazing because I had the opportunity to soul search during long stretches of highway in the middle of Nevada, and because I could forget about everything in life except for me, my car and the road in front of me.
Reflecting on my time alone in that Corvette has taught me that purchasing a dream car in a distant location is an experience every car enthusiast should have. The obvious benefit is that you’re provided ample road time to get to know your new friend: how it changes speed, what it feels like to row through the gears, how it handles at speed, how the suspension balances comfort and precision, and more. But it provides so much more than just an opportunity to get to know the car: It provides an opportunity to take a risk, and that risk creates an adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You’ll get to know yourself, learn the kind of quick thinking you can do and the decisions you’re capable of making, and how you handle unforeseen adversity.
Sure, you could have to drive in 121-degree heat with no A/C. Or the car could refuse to start at 5 a.m. in the middle of nowhere. Or it could make it to the only gas station for 50 miles with literal fumes left in the tank. But I’m glad I took the leap of faith to fly across the country to buy a car I’d never seen before, and I’m glad I trusted it to get me the 2,500 miles back home. I wouldn’t trade a single one of those miles for the world. Find a Chevrolet Corvette for sale
Joey Notarianni is a lifelong automotive enthusiast whose passion began with trucks. He can be found working on his Tahoe and resubmitting job applications for co-host of Top Gear.