The Real Grand Tour

You’ve just won the Grand Prize of a big raffle.  The prize is that you get to tour  the United States AND Western/Central Europe for six months (in any combination you wish, e.g. four months in the U.S, two in Europe).  All expenses and accommodation are paid for.  You have your choice of companion:  wife, mistress, girlfriend, best buddy, Carol Vorderman, or nobody.

You also have to choose only one car for each continental leg of this trip, which may prove problematic, because they’re all classic cars.  However, in the same spirit of the Clarkson trio, you will have a support vehicle driving a couple of miles behind you, so forget about car trouble.

Also:  because of the age of the cars, interstate highways and autobahns are not recommended, so you’ll have to use lesser roads e.g. US-50 or US-287, etc.

Here are your choices for the U.S. leg (pick one only):

1932 Stutz DV-32  (5.0-liter straight eight, top speed ~ 100mph)

1934 Packard 1101 Eight Coupe (319 straight 8, top speed ~ 120mph)

1935 Duesenberg J Walker Grand Torpedo (6.9-liter straight 8, top speed ~ 115mph)

1936 Auburn Boat Tail Speedster (5.3-liter straight 8, top speed ~ 120mph)


Now for the “European leg”.  You can choose to tour only the U.K. in one of the three right-hand drive cars — OR only the European continent in one of the three left-hand drive cars:

United Kingdom

1936 MG SA Tourer (2-liter inline 4, top speed ~ 80mph)

1938 SS-100 Jaguar Roadster (2.5-liter inline 6, top speed ~ 100mph)

1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 B (2.3-liter inline 6, top speed ~ 105mph)

(I know, it’s not a Brit car;  but it is one of the most beautiful Alfas ever made, it’s RHD, and you’ll have a support team, remember?)


Continental Europe

1936 Horch 853 A (4.9-liter straight 8, top speed ~ 120mph)

1938 BMW 328 Cabriolet (1.9-liter inline 4, top speed ~ 110mph)

1938 Mercedes 540K Cabrio A (4.9-liter inline 8, top speed ~ 125mph)

Enjoy the trips…


  1. The Auburn, the Jaguar and the Mercedes for the respective legs of the tour. I have seen them all in the flesh -so to speak- and they are all works of art in addition to fine cars.

  2. Every one of those are drop head gorgeous (see what I did there?). The unsaid bit of course, to go along with those top speeds of the era, is “what is the stopping distance” from said top speed? I suspect the answer will frighten you.

    Have had the good fortune of visiting Beaulieu castle for the car shows twice in life. Might get a third visit in before I can no longer walk long distance. Also been to the Auburn IN auto show once.

    If I had unlimited funds, the SS-100 would grace my garage just because Brit family heritage and all that.

  3. The Auburn, the Jaguar and the BMW for me please. I’d settle for either the Auburn or the Jaguar for all 3 trips. Can I have one please?

  4. Duesenberg for the US leg and Mercedes 540 for Continental Europe.

    Some of the gang up there are getting greedy and going for three cars which is not per the instructions.

    Next week. Take your selections and plan your intinerary..

  5. Duesenberg for the US leg and Mercedes 540 for Continental Europe.

    Some of the gang up there are getting greedy and going for three cars which is not per the instructions.

    Next week. Take your selections and plan your itinerary.

  6. Given the choice of UK or Continental Europe but not both, I’ll start with Europe in the Mercedes. My traveling companion would be my second wife from early in the relationship before things soured. She would be my translator/interpreter for the swing through eastern Europe. Probably start in Italy, swing through the Balkans and Greece, around the Black Sea, and as far east as the Urals. Heading back west, we go through Moscow and St. Petersburg, then through Scandinavia, stopping to look up distant relatives in Sweden. If there is still time we could tour western Europe as well.

    On return to the U.S. we pick up the Packard, which like the Mercedes in Europe I expect would be the most roadable and reliable of the available choices. There is no point in pushing the magical powers of the support vehicle more than necessary. I’ve driven most of the US in big trucks, so I have a long list of places I’ve driven past without being able to stop. I would find plenty of destinations to fill up any time remaining.

    1. My choices of cars and venues would be the same.
      If I were to drive through the UK, it would be a toss-up between the Jag and Alfa.

  7. It should be 3 legs and not just two, but your rules so..

    The Boattail speedster and the Horst. And both are capable of extended driving on interstate’s. The Horst was developed to drive on German’s new at the time Autobahn. So, interstates across the Plains and then secondary roads for the interesting places. All assuming that this fantasy allows for modern tires made too look like period correct tires, and not the actual 90 year old original tires seen on some of these museum pieces.

    Traveling comapion — my car obsessed wife of course.

    Next week — Which car are for the modern version tour of the Mille Miglia ….. Please

  8. 1935 Duesenberg because it seems to be the logical choice. The 1938 Mercedes 540K for much of the same reason. As a companion I would like a 20 year old Jessica Simpson. Start in May driving on the western US Highway 101 in going south starting in Oregon taking a left at Big Sur to see the sights on the way to Salt Lake city then south to Las Vegas to catch Route 66 to follow it to Oklahoma then on to Memphis. Head south to New Orleans then follow the costal highway to Pensacola where I would cut across the state to St. Augustine to take A1A north until it turned into US 17 and follow it north splitting off to the left in Virginia to by-pass the swamp at the northern end of Virginia to explore the Ohio river basin. In July begin touring Europe in France following the coast to get to Greece then up to Germany for Oktoberfest.

  9. At my age and desire for a/c, good heater I would sit this one out. The big old beasts would give a nice ride and require a bit more strength on the steering wheel for parking and tight turns. Years ago I had a next door neighbor who was restoring two 12 cylinder 6 liter Cadillacs in his garage, I moved away before he ever had them running but he told me that those old cars of the 1930’s had huge solid frames and they were sprung in such a way that they were smooth riding cars with very little bounce.

    Also my work in past years took me to most all of the major US cities, I lived in various parts of the US and spent some time in Europe so for that reason I have no desire to do the ‘Grand Tour’, maybe when I was 40 years old but not now. I agree with the non-interstates when possible, 287 is a great way to go up to Dallas but heading west from where I live I get on I-10 a few miles from my house and enjoy the high speed driving 80 speed limit with hills and curves and you have to be doing 85 to keep from getting run over, so there’s that.

  10. The Packard or the Duesenberg for the US, and either the Jag or the Mercedes, though I think the Mercedes would be easier to get in and out of. And I haven’t ever been to the continent, so…

  11. This is one of the best contests.

    Auburn & 2 months in the U.S (Stutz was a very close second)

    Jag and 2 months in GBR.

    Mercedes and 2 months in Europe.

    Hopefully with nice weather because I’m a bigger dude, and want to run top down and not cram under a low roof. This may be a lot to ask of the British Iles.

  12. Splitting the tour first:
    Been around the northern Western hemisphere a bit (off highway/autobahn, high-speed road) and the most beautiful and varied (by far) I’ve found is the U.S., so two weeks in Europe only to visit the two areas where my father’s family came from (around Danzig and also about 60 km NE of Bratislava) and the rest to tour the three northern NE states and an arc in the South (AR, MS, AL, GA, TN, KY, WV), if there’s enough time and fuel – don’t want to rush it.
    Besides which, spotting them their language and culture, people are the same everywhere: same desires, same needs, same goals, same philosophies±, except for the crazies and, having had the pleasure of meeting enough of them over the years, I find no desire to hang around with them any more than I have to.
    Also, very important, only US states where my carry permit is acknowledged.

    Driving companion:
    My wife of fifty+ years – ehh? Genoeg is genoeg! This is supposed to be a vac.
    Old girlfriends – mostly decomposed.
    Carol Vorderman – I’m long, long past the stage when I could do anything about it.
    You – you would get a kick out of driving any of the cars; I’m not into getting a permanent crick continuously looking left, so feminine beauty I don’t need and I was never into the other kind; as the sun sets and you get tired, I’d be happy to take the wheel (so long as your life insurance is paid up) and I see better when it gets dark (I know there’s some vampire in the genes)

    Next – cars:
    U.S. leg – 1932 Stutz DV-32 – my great-uncle owned one and drove it from NYC to Key West and back again – said it was the best (by far) of any car he’d ever driven, in all respects.
    Euro leg – 1936 Horch 853 A – if it’s good enough for the Hungarian and German nobility… again it’s all personal reports from uncles (and aunts who found there was nothing they couldn’t complain about).

  13. Well, the wife doesn’t read here….

    And if this happened, we could assume we’re in an alternate universe, and I’m no older than 40 again.

    Carol Vorderman,
    US Trip – 1932 Stutz DV-32 – 1 month
    UK Trip – 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 B – 2 months
    Continental Trip – 1936 Horch 853 A – 3 months

    dammit, if I’m going to imagine such a trip, I refuse to imagine it at my age, or in the Covidbedamned universe.

  14. I’d split the time up equally between America and Europe. I have yet to decide if I want the British tour or the Continental version, but if I went with the British version I would add three days to the American tour. In Britain everything is close enough I think I could do that in less time.
    For the American portion, I think the Auburn is distinctive enough that it would be fun touring the backroads and lesser highways with it. I would certainly get admiring attention.
    If I take the British tour, I have to go with the Alfa. I would want an enclosed touring car in a country as green as Britain is.
    For the Continental version, I would select the Horch. That seems big enough to be a comfortable tourer, given that in the 1930’s the Mercedes was considered in some ways to be the German Chevrolet. That the Nazis preferred it was something of a joke back then.

  15. I’m not fussed about top speeds: I won’t be taking them round any tracks.

    I’ll take pot luck with the American cars – they all look gorgeous. But for the European trip I’ll take the BMW 328 for the simple fact that BMW still exist. I’ll be able to rock up to any BMW dealer and have them swarm over me and introduce me to interesting people.

  16. I humbly confess I did not carefully read Kim’s rules and picked three cars for the journey. But of course, if I had indeed won Powerball, I would imagine that I could do whatever I damned well pleased, as would our host here, I trust.
    Rules are for people who lack sufficient funds as evidenced buy our political “leaders”.

  17. First, I would choose my wife to be my travel companion. We travel very well together and she is the best partner I could ask for in just about any situation.

    For the US tour, the Packard really tugged at my heart because a much later model was our earliest family car that I can remember. Then, I saw the Auburn and I was sold. A beautiful example of pre-war American automotive art.

    I chose to tour the UK for the second leg
    and I would have to go with the Alfa. Not only do I really love the marque, but, like WW, I would also like a fixed-head coupe for driving around the British isles. Plus, it’s drop dead gorgeous!

  18. Uh, am I missing something or is the UK no longer part of “Europe”?

    So, we should be able to treat the UK as part of the Europe portion. with the car selections as given for UK.

    I’m looking at the specs and it doesn’t say those are different.
    This is what happens when you spend 40+ years as a programmer.

    “The prize is that you get to tour the United States AND Western/Central Europe for six months (in any combination you wish, e.g. four months in the U.S, two in Europe). ”

    See, in fact the UK isn’t even mentioned, specifically, in the spec, until we get to the portion that delineates the vehicles we can choose from. But the UK is part of “Western” Europe, although I understand they might sometimes wish it were otherwise (and the Germans, French, Dutch and Spanish for the last 300+ years probably wish it was otherwise).

    1. Did you hear of a thing called “Brexit”? The UK is separate from Europe not only politically, but by LHD/RHD driving — the latter factor being why I split the two.

      For what it’s worth, I’d toss a coin for the American cars but if forced, I’d go with the Packard for two months or so. Then that BMW would be mine, MINE I tell you, for the European trip.

  19. I hate to be a grouch, but to pick I’d have to know a good deal about how well the tops fit, how well the heaters (if any) work, how comfortable the seats are, and how many second-hand books can fit in the boot.

  20. Oh, damn – I missed the freaking “OR” Clause.

    Dammit – crap, damn, crap, crap, crap.

    I’m going to need a couple days to update the user doc, change the code, unit test, and then run an end to end system test.

    Once he mentioned Carol Vorderman I lost sight of everything else.

    Do you know why old computers would “Abend”?
    It’s because it’s German, for evening, and it was the system’s way of saying
    “You’re going to be here tonight trying to fix this”.

  21. First, my traveling companion…Arianna, my 12 (soon to be 13) year old Goddaughter. Father in jail ,Mother section 8, does little to support her. But she is a wonderful companion, loves history and museums, hates school. let her see it in real life rather than a book. Plus I wish to give her an extraordinary childhood that all her well to do friends that look down on her could only dream of. Now the cars, wow could it be more difficult? After much thought on the American tour, the Packard. Love the reputation, love the lines, love the history. For Britain, the hardest choice. Has to be the MG. Looks like so much fun. Not going 100 MPH on British roads anyhow. The Alfa looks like a good choice for this 72 year old, especially to get in and out of, not to mention the hard top. But you only live once. Don’t have much time to be wild. For the Continent, it has to be the Horch hands down. For my money, the loveliest vehicle of the lot. The one vehicle I want to bring home. However, there are no bad choices, I enjoyed the dreaming.

  22. US: Auburn. All those cars ooze style, but the Auburn is pretty. And a roadster. And fast enough that I’m not limited…some of the “secondary” roads are pretty fast.
    European leg: Mercedes. The BMW is nice, but the Mercedes has gobs of power.

  23. Apart from the total lack of braking and cornering power, and fuel consumption in the gallons per mile range…

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