by Steve Natale
Have you always wanted to go on a classic driving tour, but you don’t have the right wheels? There is hope. A 2000 GMC Yukon XL may be comfortable, but an event like the Drive Toward a Cure California Adventure—a four-day, three-night drive through central California—deserves something special, like a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. DriveShare to the rescue.
The Drive Toward a Cure California Adventure was founded in 2016 by veteran automotive public relations professional Deb Pollack to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. Deb connected me with Hagerty’s Steve Haas, who located the Corvette and joined me on the tour. (Editor’s note: DriveShare is owned by Hagerty, and the rental was provided free to the author.)
The non-timed road tour was split into two groups. A northern group of cars started near Santa Cruz and a southern group left from the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, with a rendezvous planned in Solvang. Invite in hand, I cleared my schedule, readied my camera, and arranged every detail except one: finding the right car to drive. DriveShare offered plenty of choices, but I already had something in mind. A vintage Corvette convertible is the quintessential California cruiser, and putting miles on a mid-year (1963–67) Corvette was bucket-list material for me.
Our Corvette was an unrestored original car with nice patina, powered by a 327-cubic-inch V-8 with a four-speed manual transmission. Our northern group of cars consisted mostly of new or late-model Maseratis, Porsches, and similar European exotic machines. Those cars are cool, but the Corvette stood out for all the right reasons. We had the car that all the other drivers were talking about.
The drive kicked off at Scotts Valley’s Canepa Design, where we were treated to a private tour of Canepa’s large, world-class restoration shop and car museum and had a brief lunch before hitting the road. Our route was carefully planned to take advantage of the abundant scenic back roads of coastal California, and with the top down, wind in our hair, and the music on, it was a day of pure bliss. The first stop was the Monterey Plaza Hotel, located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey, where we dined ocean-side with our tour group.
By morning we were southbound again, and the roads and scenery kept getting more and more beautiful as we cruised along the coast, through mountains, valleys and canyons. This section of Central California is off the beaten path, so many people haven’t seen it—and that includes me, and I’ve lived near here for 40 years. We weren’t in the fastest car in the group, but this was a tour, not a race. The C2’s exhaust rumble, crisp-shifting Muncie, and vintage-but-nimble handling certainly made the journey a bit more involved than if we had driven a modern car.
After a stop for lunch in old Paso Robles, we made our way down to Solvang to meet up with the southern contingent of the Drive Toward a Cure California Adventure. Our destination was the 1000-acre Alisal Ranch and Resort, with a private rodeo and barbeque, horseback riding, a lakeside cowboy gourmet dinner, an awesome ranch breakfast, and much more all on the agenda.
There was another Hagerty DriveShare car in the other group, a beautiful Mercedes-Benz 280SL whose driver seemed to be having as much fun as I was. He and his wife flew to Los Angeles from the East Coast to take part in the event and arranged to pick up the car upon their arrival.
After another day of excursions that included more amazing roads and scenery in the Central Coast wine region, it was time to head back north. We met the Corvette’s owner in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco, and he told us he was going to take the scenic coastal route home since he was jealous of our journey. He can drive his Corvette any time he wants, of course, but DriveShare let me live out a dream without actually owning the car.