What's the Best State for a Gearhead?

Spectating at STPR in PA.
Spectating at STPR in PA.
Photo: Brian Silvestro
CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.

I am West Coast born, and that means I’m California raised. My nostalgia for the streetparked cars of my hometown will never fade, remembering ‘70s Corollas still used for commuting to rust-free Volvo 142s sitting with $500 for sale signs on them. But since moving East, I’ve fallen a bit for a different state’s automotive scene.

That state is none other than Pennsylvania, and it’s not something I saw coming. For my first few years of living on the East Coast, PA was just the really long thing you drove through to get anywhere meaningfully distant from NYC. But it started to catch on to me. I got into rally, and ended up running STPR up in the middle of the state. I saw its winding rural roads, dirt and otherwise. PA has close to if not the most dirt tracks of any state, and there are still speed shops all over the place, people building hot rods like the oil crises of the 1970s never happened.


Everything is rough, everything is rusty, and everything feels a little bit like it has a chip on its shoulder, but there’s real old-school shit out in PA, and I wonder if it might actually be the best place to live if you want to be a gearhead.

But! I’m sure I’m wrong for a hundred reasons if I’m right for one or two. Michigan is filled with machine shops, too, and innumerable widget makers around the still-standing auto industry. Montana has the best Craigslist. Oregon probably has the best dirt roads for rally, but if you go to the southwest you’ll find the best desert running.

In any case I’m sure you all have better ideas than I do, and I’d love to hear them.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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Shane Morris


Rust is hell. If I'm buying an older car (and I often am), I begin all searches on Autotempest, and center my results in Arizona.