What would you do if you could go back in time? If you're a basic Subaru nerd like me, you'd buy a brand new Impreza just to have a rust free car. The idea here, after spending literal years fixing rust on my coupe, was a "fresh start." Not possessing a time machine, I set my sights on the next best thing...A southern car. Thus, we had a goal: Find the cleanest, rust free impreza, preferably a wagon for daily usefulness, and use it as the basis for a fun, relatively reliable daily transport.
Using search tempest and focusing on southern locals in big metropolitan areas for ease of booking a flight, I found this L wagon at a small used car dealer in Phoenix, AZ. After exchanging a few texts and a conversation with the dealer, we settled on a price ($3,200) and I sent a deposit and booked a flight. As anyone would be, this is sorta sketchy...buying a nearly 20 year old car sight unseen with the intention to drive it home across the country to Michigan. Things ended up just fine, the guy (although pretty eccentric) was real and didn't rip me off.
I flew in Friday morning, caught a cab over to the dealer, had a 5 minute test drive around the block and signed some paperwork. Everything on the car seemed sound, it was just as clean as described, zero rust, paint in excellent shape (I think its been resprayed) and the interior in remarkable good condition. So, I was satisfied, and ready to get the thing home. Just a couple thousand miles between me and home.
After getting my temporary AZ registration, I set off about 11:30am local time from Phoenix. None of my friends could get off work to help me drive back, so I flew my friend Jake in Oklahoma City later in the day (after he got off work) with plans to rendezvous halfway through the trip. So, I had to cover the first ~1000 miles on my own. And man, what a drive...
Tonto National Forest...nothing like driving your new used car over a small mountain.
Got pulled over in Amarillo Texas cuz the cop didn't like my temp plate. He looked at me like I was crazy for driving this dorky red wagon all the way to Michigan. He asked me a couple times "so WHAT brought you to Arizona??" Written warning (with my incorrect address) and I was on my way.
Finally made it to Oklahoma City at about 3:30am where my friend had been waiting. I was relieved to get some rest and to not be alone, in case something happened. Fuel stop and Jake took the wheel for about 3 hours.
I got about 3 hours sleep and we were almost ready for gas. Somewhere in north eastern Oklahoma, we got gas and changed drivers. Turns out the car had been leaking oil, front seal I think, and misting oil all over the bottom of the car. Made a pretty bad smell and some smoke but never dropped the level too low. Still made me nervous!
Dawn. Somewhere in southwest Missouri.
We ended up going through Kansas City in order to avoid and issues or road closures in St Louis from the flooding. It took us maybe an hour out of our way.
Probably 29 hours later...
And maybe 2 hours after that...I rolled into Grand Rapids.
Some reflections...This was the longest drive I'd ever made, and the first 14 hours was the single longest stint I've ever driven. It was nerve wracking being alone, and exciting and extremely cool to drive nearly completely across the country. There's no better way to see the US.