The term “Grand Tour” has a special meaning for gearheads. Originally a term referring to a young aristocrat’s rite-of-passage tour around Europe, today, among automotive enthusiasts, it brings to mind long trips on beautiful roads draped over scenic landscapes. Most importantly, this long trip is enjoyed with a special type of vehicle, a comfortable, powerful luxurious car that’s still composed and competent when the road gets twisty, or the weather takes an unexpected turn.
One of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of such a car is Aston Martin. Beautiful, sumptuous cars, as comfortable as they are fast; equally at home on winding back roads, or pulling into a five star hotel.
Only, this article isn’t about an Aston Martin.
What if a Grand Tour is more attainable than you’ve been told? What if it’s not an experience reserved only for the privileged few, with their exotic cars, and five star hotels? What if I told you that you can enjoy all of it with the humble Focus ST?
Of course a Focus ST won’t win any beauty contests parked next to an Aston Martin, nor will it offer the same sense of occasion as a Bentley Continental. But its Recaro seats are impressively supportive for hours on end. Really, my previous cars have included a Cadillac STS and a Chrysler 300c, and I’d rather spend 8 hours in the Focus than either of those because the seats are really that good.
Furthermore, the ride is comfortable enough for long stints on the interstate, but the chassis is composed enough to have some fun on the backroads. Driven conservatively the fuel economy is adequate, but there’s still enough power to engage with when the need or desire arises. There’s even enough room for your best friend, a couple kids, and a weekends worth of gear.
So, while unorthodox, the Focus ST is our stand in GT car, but there’s still the matter of the tour itself. A worthy destination, and good company are also needed.
This year, I headed to the 36th running of the Lime Rock Historic Festival in beautiful rural Connecticut. The total trip was over 700 miles from my home in central North Carolina. Friday I left home with my 18 month old son and headed to my in-law’s camping spot in North Eastern Pennsylvania’s beautiful Pocono Mountain region, where I would spend the night, and wait for my wife and 4 year old son to join me later. Saturday morning, long before the sun peered over the horizon, Barrett (my older son) and I headed to Western New Jersey to pick up long-time friend and fellow AlphaGearhead Dave, along with his step son. One final non-stop blast North and we were at one of the finest motorsports events on the East Coast.
1,500 miles, a willing machine, good company, and a worthy destination. A grand tour indeed.
What’s Your Grand Tour?
This is my story. What’s yours? Have you ever taken a “Grand Tour” of your own? Tell us about it!