Same Problem, Different Continent

Two weeks ago, you were stranded in St. Louis and had to buy a car to drive home.

Guess what?  It’s happened again, only this time your airport was Schipol, outside Amsterdam. The problem?  You were going to fly home from Madrid, Spain, so somehow you have to get from Holland to Spain (a full two-day drive), but you decide you’ll take five days because that’s when your flight leaves Madrid, using a route roughly along these lines:


And luckily, you discover ER Classics, just a short train ride from Amsterdam, where you will find choices like this:

So browse the showroom and pick yourself a car for this one-way trip through northern Europe.  There are a lot more choices here than there were at St. Louis, so take your time… and be assured, as before, that the car will be reliable enough to get you there, needing only refueling along the way.

Oh, and the weather will be warm, mostly sunny but with occasional light rain (because Yurp).

Let me know in Comments.


  1. Being pragmatic and a BMW fan, I’d take this:
    or possibly (yes, it’s a newer one, doesn’t look as good, but hear me out).

    The 320 convertible is a great car. My dad owned several 320s in that series (not the convertible) and they were very solid, reliable, and comfortable cars.
    We drove them over distances like that, from our home in the east of the Netherlands down to Vienna and Monaco.
    Problem is spare parts are getting hard to find and petrol consumption is high. Because of that, the Alpina may be the more sensible choice, easier to find repairs if it breaks down and the fuel bill will be lower as well. Plus it’s probably even more comfortable, not unimportant over such a distance.

  2. Well, at ~1,100 miles -> 220 miles a day -> 3 to 5 hours a day driving -> eschew a fun car in favor of a comfortable car.
    The 1989 Jag XJS Cabriolet could fill the bill. For slow speed parts of the journey, it has a top down option, and if it gets a little warm or wet, the top goes up. I don’t like the noise of windows open at 50 – 70 mph, so the AC/climate control fixes that, and a V8 says a little fun is an option here and there.

    There are many other interesting, luxurious for their day, fun or high performance cars in that boutique that I’d love to try for a couple hours each, but I don’t need to put up with jounced kidneys, oily face, sweaty clothes and road and wind noise for five days running.

  3. A wise decision to put the MG bottom of the list. Keep a cinder block with a rope in the back seat to throw out when you want to stop because the brakes don’t work. My brother owned/owns a Citroën Traction convertible with a Republic of Hout Bay pennant soldered to the radiator cap and it got smiles wherever it went. Do the same with a MG TD and a Union Jack and in Yirrip you might get rocks thrown at you.

    I owned the BMW coop in Alpina guise and shed tears when I had to let it go.

  4. The real problem is that if I drive all that way to Madrid, I ain’t going home for a few weeks, or months if She allows. And She will, She loves the place.

    I will stay in La Latina, sluice, browse, party and dance up and down Calles de la Cava Alta y Baja, spend a week in the Prado and another in the Thyssen when I’m not wandering about the Parque de el Ritiro.

    Madrid, what a place.

      1. Yikes, I daydreamed so hard I forgot the car.

        The 1953 TD.

        In 1972 when I was 20 my Godparents’ son, Walter, 5 years older than me, turned up at our house in pretty much that exact TD with the hottest babe imaginable in the passenger seat. He was showing them both off, the bastard.

        Walter ruthlessly and successfully used that car for years as a babe magnet.

        One drives a car like that here in western Canada from Victoria day through September, so Wally had the winter fix its endless problems from electrics, to carbs to knobs and handles that got loose and fell off, at vast expense, but wow, what a car.

        He let me drive it exactly once, for 15 minutes, the bastard.

  5. The only choice is the 1965 Triumph Spitfire Mk1 in BRG, of course. That car is identical to the first one I ever bought in 1971 or so. I rebuilt the top end and learned to drive a stick. What a pleasant bunch of memories!
    Once in, I probably couldn’t get out and driving 1000 miles in the thing would probably cripple me, but it would be fun.

    1. “Once in, I probably couldn’t get out and driving 1000 miles in the thing would probably cripple me, but it would be fun.”

      Spoken like a real man.

  6. I’ll just take the train and watch the world go by. Since I’m not pushed for time I’ll have big stops in Brussels and Nimes. I’ll travel first class, of course.

    1. Oh, you’re no fun. Not even the Chrysler New Yorker? A gigantic battleship like that’s bound to turn heads.

  7. Aren’t we supposed to have a choice of a few totties for companionship??

    I’ll take the Chrysler.

    And Rita Hayworth. Hubba hubba.

  8. I narrowed it down to three choices, even though on every page of their inventory there was at least two that said ‘”oooh there’s an interesting choice”. But for that distance it needs to be a closed car. Maybe if I was 25 again I could deal with an open car for that distance, but not now. I’ll even put up with and not complain about what we all pretended was effective climate controls in the 70’s. So that eliminated a bunch. Then, I’ve already done a very similar trip. Spa to Monte Carlo in a DS19, So cross off the DS21.
    The 930 was another possibility. But I’ve also already done several cross-country trips in 911’s, one of which was in a 930.
    I’ve only driven a Ferrari short distances, so a long trip with Kim’s promise of trouble free miles means my final choice would be the 328 GTB for the trip.

  9. Well, here is the conundrum. You stated you want to GET from start to destination, presumably not with tools and a mechanic.

    This being the case the choice is BMW,

    None of the rest are high probability of arrival but my second choice is the Jag simply because I rebuilt one ground up and know every farkin nut and bolt. Mind I never drove it without tools in the boot as a talisman.Regret selling it but circumstances….

    For the record, also helped restore a 48 Chrysler 2 door for a friend. He made it without major issues other than fuel, oil and flat tires, at a clocked average speed of 48 MPH from Michigan to Ft Lauderdale FL. Bon voyage.

    1. be assured, as before, that the car will be reliable enough to get you there, needing only refueling along the way.

      Should I also have put it in red, so you couldn’t miss it?

      1. Matters not if we are enjoying fantasy. Sadly I am stuck reality based on experience. Carry on. 😉

  10. At 5’11” it is a tight fit to get into British sport cars. They were designed for little guys. The BMW is only a little better so it have to be the New Yorker if I was to drive it. I side with Quentin and would take the train with stops along the way.

  11. Just going with the choices above, I would think the Jensen would be your choice Old Friend: A big honking American V-8, and automatic/powered everything – including the hood for when the weather changes from “A Walk In The Sun” to “Rainy Day, In The Park”, and vice-versa.
    And, it has a boot that will hold more than your ladies’ handbag.
    Does that work for you, it does for me.

    1. Absolutely! This would be my choice also, but the drop top Jags are tempting.

      A friend of mine had a late ’80s Jag coupe, supposedly one of the last built a a particular Jaguar plant, which I forget. But what I do remember from the 100 mile round trip that I rode in that car with him was it pulled like a freight train!

  12. Looking for a nice compromise between style, sportiness, and comfort there is a green 1958 Mercedes 190sl that I think would fit the bill. The route would include a stop in Margraten at the grave of the young man for whom I am named. He was KIA in early April 1945 about ten months after graduating High School. His childhood pal and classmate, my father, was in a radio technician school at the time and didn’t ship out till after the end of hostilities. As for France and Spain, I’ve only ever seen a small part of France so the route is pretty wide open. Any way I go would be new scenery for me.

  13. I didn’t need to look any further than that 66 ford pickup. Comes with a bale of hay in the back and everything.

    1. Both you and Paul are going to need about a six-hour massage when you arrive in Madrid, bubba. Them thangs are hard on the back over a long distance.

      1. I had a 1970 F-100 Ford Ranger. A massage alone may not be enough. I’m thinking of Jacuzzi alternated with massage.
        I’m sorry I sold it. They are hard to start when cold, but there is no issue with finding parts, and the lessons you learned in high school auto shop apply. Electronic ignition is a plus, though.

  14. I think the Toyota Land Cruiser pickup would work fine by me. They worked well in the western mountains when I was young. Always have been fond of trucks.

  15. There is a white 1973 TR-6 listed. That one.
    Once upon a time, I had a 1970 Triumph TR-6. It took a bit of work to keep it running, but nothing major. Just lots of little stuff, took at least an hour a week of work and I kept a good set of tools in the trunk. Most people do not know that the Brit version of the -6 had Lucas direct fuel injection and 150 horses. North American version had 2 Stromberg Carlson carbs and put out nominally 102, but actually 92 according to DoT Ottawa when emissions testing. As my father said, Just about enough to pull the skin off a custard. Getting/putting fuel injection on aftermarket was basically a no-go, but someone in Brit-land made a kludge job adapter to fit on the injector version intake manifold. Added 3 Weber 40 (30? cannot remember) mm carbs and voila… about 150 horses. Made an astounding fast ride. Balancing the 3 cards was an order of magnitude harder than balancing the 2 Strombergs. No wonder all and sundry in the racing world of the late 60’s/early 70’s loved Lucas fuel injection.
    Great car. Comfortable to drive for long distances and could get to about 115 mph and rock stable (presuming the speedo was at all correct!) You still froze to death in the winter, even with various tricks to ensure that the thermostat *never* opened (so all the ‘hot’ went to the heater). I had no problems with the ‘Prince of Darkness’ electrics.
    Really loved that car, but it was eventually terminally infected with rust from Ontario winters: rocker panels, rear fenders. Not a good all year round daily driver which was what I used it for. Replaced by a Honda Civic 5 door which only got gas, brakes, oil and tires looked at for 14 years till it blew a head gasket. Reliability plus plus.

    At 200 miles per day I could put up with alot of discomfort for a neat ride.

  16. I keep coming back to that Ferrari 308 GT4. Yes, I know it’s not a “real” Ferrari (it’s technically a rebadged Dino), but I’ve lusted after one ever since watching Richard Hammond try (and fail) to drive a yellow one from Bristol to Slough in the “Mid-Engined Italian Supercar for Under £10,000 Challenge.”

    Now, the practical choice… the ’68 Mercedes 250S would do nicely…

    …but that Mazda 626 is calling my name too.

    Put down the torched and pitchforks and hear me out on this: my dad owned a Mazda 626 when I was born. It was an earlier model than that ’87, but I don’t know the specific year. I do remember it was a rather nice shade of light blue. It ran like the proverbial sewing machine for nearly 300,000 miles before the electical system finally started to give up the ghost. Lots of fond memories of that car.

      1. FWIW, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either. I kept going through and trying to pick something fancy, but couldn’t let go of that silly Mazda.

        And funny enough, I talked to my dad last night and asked about his Mazda: it was an ’87 5-door hatchback just like the one in the listing, except his was base trip and had a manual transmission. No wonder the nostalgia factor was off the charts for me.

  17. I’m amazed at the unusual selection of old American cars on that list. A 66 Ford F-100, Plymouth Fury, Pontiac GTO, etc. The Mustangs I can understand, but the rest? Still, the 1970 Corvette with a blower and psychedelic paint job would certainly get attention, although contrary to your rules would be a complete bitch if it broke down. It’d be real hard to pass that up, but in the end I’d probably just get one of the Mustangs and call it a day.

  18. Of your suggestions, I would choose the Jaguar. The idea of driving that car even with the V8 on the secondary roads in Europe is enticing to say the least. Perhaps even the Jensen. We had a neighbor who had one, and it was a chick magnet. To have one reliable enough to go grand touring — Be still my beating heart.
    My choice would be based on how much luggage we had along, which means we’d probably go with the BMW. I have fond memories of driving an Opel Omega wagon through the Alps in 2003. After the driving pleasure, the best part, since I had my mother along, was the fact that the tailgate lifted up and provided a covered area to stack the luggage in and to stand in while you made it all fit in the back. Considering that it rained without letup from Salzburg to Scuol in Switzerland, that is an excellent feature.

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