The greatest road trip is the one you dream about taking. But that's kind of hard to explain, so here are ten extraordinary journeys that did actually get past the 'haphazard planning in a bar' stage.
Sir Edmund Hillary wasn't supposed to be the first person to drive to the South Pole (itself only the third expedition to get there at all). He and his crew were supposed to drive Ferguson tractors near to the pole and support a different expedition. But then Hillary got bored and drove there anyway. If that's not the spirit of a true road trip, I don't know what is.
Read more about the trip right here.
Suggested By: Distraxl
The best road trip done on TV by famous people was probably The Long Way Round, but there's something particularly poignant about Top Gear's trip to the North Pole. Particularly, these statements of intent and summary by Mr. Clarkson quoted by our own LopingCamshaft.
"I admire all Arctic explorers. But I think the time has now come for the world to say let's see how easily we can get to the top of Everest. Let's see how easily we can get to the North Pole. I think we could forge a career as the world's worst explorers."
"I'd set out to prove that polar exploration could be easy - but it isn't. It's brutal and savage. The fact is though, that two middle-aged men - deeply unfit and mostly drunk - had made it. Thanks entirely to the incredible machine that took us there."
Suggested By: toomuchcommuting and lopingcamshaft, Photo Credit: Top Gear
The best road trip of recent memory comes from our colleagues at Car and Driver, who chronicled the tale of quite possibly the worst race car in the public eye criss-crossing the country to run 14 Le Mons races. The car and its hapless series of drivers went through 122 degree desert heat and white-out blizzards, often fixing the car on the side of the road at the time.
Read the whole story right here.
Suggested By: grannypots, Photo Credit: Murilee Martin/Car and Driver
A young Belgian couple were on their way driving around the world in an old Toyota Land Cruiser when they got to the Democratic Republic of Congo. They ended up becoming the first people to cross the huge jungle and desert country in decades. If you think you know offroading, prepare to have your mind blown.
We posted the story, put together by Expedition Portal, right here on Jalopnik a few years ago.
Suggested By: AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs, Photo Credit: Expedition Portal
There is a missing piece out of the middle of the Pan-American Highway, which runs from the top of North America down to the tip of the South. It is a 50 mile-expanse of jungle between Panama and Colombia meant to slow the drug trade. The first time anyone made it across was in 1972. Read more about this added notch to one British explorer's belt right here.
Suggested By: Disco2guy and bobcprimus, Photo Credit: Range Rover via Range Rover Classic
Georges-Marie Haardt had already made it across the Sahara some half-tracked Citroens in 1922, so he figured why not take them across the Himalayas, too? he and his National Geographic backed team ended up making the first motorized crossing of the mountain range in '31 and '32. At times it was so rough they had to disassemble their vehicles and carry them on foot. Read more about the trip right here.
Suggested By: scnix1, Photo Credit: Citroen
Karl Benz didn't want to promote his Patent Motorwagen until it was absolutely perfect. His wife realized this was impossible, so one day she took the car without any notice and drove to see her grandmother. The thing is, nobody had ever driven that far before.
Read more about her insane, no-infrastructure, no planning, no fucks given trip right here.
Suggested By: Grand Viceroy Maxyenko, Photo Credit: Mercedes Benz
There have been some insane transcontinental drives over the centuries, from dysentery-plagued covered wagon journeys to airplane-spotted speed runs. My favorite was the first done by car back in 1903. To say that infrastructure was lacking would be an understatement. Read all about the trip right here, and how it was sparked by nothing more than a $50 bet.
Suggested By: DennyCrane3x, Photo Credit: University of Vermont, Special Collections via aflightyabroad.tumblr.com
Back in the early days of the automobile, drivers would race from one European city to the next. The Paris-Bordeaux race of 1895 was particularly noteworthy when the winner ended up being so fast, he outpaced his replacement driver and had to drive himself back home, all in one no-sleep go.
The ultimate city to city race, though, was the unbelievable Peking-Paris run of 1907, from Beijing to the French capitol. It was all started by this one dare in a newspaper.
Read more about what these drivers accomplished on cars best described as engines with seats on them right here.
Suggested By: ADabofOppo, Photo Credits: Project Gutenberg EBook of Van Peking naar Parijs per auto, by Luigi Barzini and Scipione Borghese
It took three years (1961-1964), but cartoonist Stan Mott drove around the entire world in a go kart. Mostly because it was fun. You can read the full account of his trip right here, but I'll just use one excerpt to describe how it was even legally possible. I'll let you imagine the physical troubles of crossing the more remote sections of the globe.
"The story behind these drawings, as briefly as possible: Back in 1961, gokarts were a worldwide fad. Whenever I was stopped by police in Italy, a crowd gathered. They always took my side and shouted the police down. In France, the French considered me insane. But, as they consider insanity part of life, and as I was alive, I had a right to drive on French roads. Not so in England. British customs impounded my gokart as soon as I drove off the Calais/Dover ferry. A British gokart fan, whom I had befriended by mail, picked me up in his van and delivered me and gokart to London. There we figured I could go on TV, gain public sympathy, and special permission to drive on English roads. I got on the Oiff Mitchelmore TV show. But no special permission. The problem then was to get back to Dover, 70 miles east. My British fan didn't have the time. I'd have to drive. How? If gokarts were illegal, what about a teeny experimental car? Ah! I built a speedy dart thing out of a TV cardboard box, masking tape and grey paint. I lettered "CYCLOPS" on the front and "EXPERIMENTAL–DANGER" on the sides for style, attached a Florida license plate an American sailor gave me in Naples for legality, and at 2 a.m set out. All went well… until it rained. Racing down the M20 highway, trying to reach Dover before daylight, water arcing off the tires, the body began to disintegrate. The engine shut down. A piece of wet cardboard had plastered itself on the Lambretta 175cc engine's cooling air intake. Over heated. I ripped it off and waited. The rain increased. The engine cooled and started. Off again, with pieces of the body flapping and ripping off. The rain became torrential. When I reached Dover, the body looked like a half eaten sardine. I tried to hide in the ferry dock. A bobby spotted me. The game was up. He sauntered over. "I say, I saw this on the telly. Good going!" God bless you, sir, I thought. "May I take a photo of you next to the gokart?", I asked. "Oh, quite. I'll pretend I'm writing you up. Can't approve of anything illegal, ha, ha!" "No sir." Click! I escaped on the next ferry."
Suggested By: manifold engines, wanting for time, Photo Credit: Karting World Magazine
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Top Photo Credit: Karting World Magazine