Hear Me Out: Take Your Fun Car On Your Thanksgiving Road Trip

The Datsun Z was originally meant for Americans to take road trips. I’d argue you rarely need anything bigger.

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, one of the busiest travel days of the busiest travel week of the year. It seems like everyone’s either buying a plane ticket out to see relatives, or loading up the Family Truckster to eat through the miles on four wheels. But as you’re packing your things, ask yourself a question: Which car would you actually enjoy driving for all that distance?


Now, obviously, not all of us have multiple cars to pick from. I personally have just one small, uncomfortable, vibrational car that’s been my means of road trip transportation for years. But for others, like Jalopnik’s own David Tracy or Mercedes Streeter (who own a combined 31 vehicles, including Mercedes’ three motorcycles), there are options to pick between. Maybe you have a practical daily and a weekend ride, or a project and a truck for hauling parts. So goes the trend: A fun car, and a practical one. But who says fun isn’t practical?

Your fun car can probably haul more than you think. Mine certainly can.

I mean, we’re talking about one holiday, and not one that involves the giving of gifts. How much stuff do you really need to bring with you? My own Thanksgiving trip involved packing a week and a half of clothing, between press trips and the holiday, and I managed that in one messenger bag and a rolling carry-on. I promise, you don’t need two duffel bags for your four-day excursion.

Now that we’ve established that you don’t really need the full storage space of your Canyonero, the question of which car to bring to Grandma’s becomes a little less biased towards the daily. But two more points will bring you firmly around to my side: Safety and fun.

This is the ideal road trip vehicle. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.


That’s right, your fun car is safer than your comfortable highway cruiser for Thanksgiving. There’s a simple reason why: The jostles from the suspension, the sound of the exhaust, and the innate desire to clip apexes will keep you awake on the drive home. Even if the “turkey makes you tired” myth has been well and truly busted, big meals are the culprit to actually wearing you out.


Driving tired is a dangerous proposition, one that kills 6,400 people every year. Between the long conversations, the late nights, and the second helpings of turkey, you’re gonna be rubbing the sleep from your eyes before you even get in the car to go home.

In an article from the CDC, the organization says tired driving is similar to drunk driving: It affects your reaction time, ability to pay attention, and ability to quickly make decisions. Sure, you can turn on your fully-functional AC to try and perk yourself up, but comfort will still lull you to sleep. Do you think that swaddling yourself in rich Corinthian leather is going to help?

Over the speedboat and through the woods


This is a lesson David Tracy learned the hard way when road-tripping 2,000 miles in his Brand Cruiser: Sometimes, you’d rather just be in a more interesting car. That same idea formed the basis for Gears and Gasoline’s first road trip series, bringing a modified Evo and STi-swapped Forester diagonally across the United States. If you’re on your way to your great-aunt’s house, tucked away in the back woods and only accessible through a series of roads that bring out your inner Colin McRae, why not enjoy them?


If you’re flying out to relatives, and thinking of renting a car to get around, that’s even better. Hop on Turo and find yourself something you’d never get to drive otherwise. One of my favorite driving experiences to this day was in a rented Civic Type R while out in Los Angeles, and it was long before I worked in automotive media. If your travels put you near fun roads, just take the fun car. You won’t regret it.

Getting to see Dominic Toretto’s house certainly didn’t hurt either

So, take it or leave it, that’s my holiday advice to you all. Eat, drink, be merry, and bring your fun car out for your trips. Also, skip the cranberry sauce — it’s never as good as it looks.