Cruising some of the better roads around the City of Angels
EACH YEAR I TRAVEL with my company – a 3D visual effects software development firm servicing the movie and video game industries – to an entertainment technology conference called SIGGRAPH. This year it was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, starting on Sunday, July 28.
I was flying in on Saturday so – knowing I’d have most of a day off – had done some research on the best drives in the area and discovered one that looked like a doozy – the Angeles Crest Highway, just north of LA.
When renting cars to drive for fun, I like to use a service called Turo – which is like the Airbnb of cars. Like Airbnb, it allows people to put their own cars up for rent, and deals with the admin side of things, such as booking and insurance. Also, like Airbnb, there are pros and cons to Turo – it’s not like walking up to a convenience counter at the airport. You typically have to either pay to have the car delivered to the airport or get yourself to its location. Plus, when you’re picking up and dropping off, you’re dealing with an individual not a big company, leaving a chance for things to get a bit ‘interesting’ sometimes.
However, I’ve always had good experiences with Turo – having rented an Audi RS3 in Munich, a BMW 440i in Austria, Jeeps in Hawaii, and more. What I like is that the vehicles are outside the box of your traditional rental service, and much less expensive if you’re renting performance cars.
For this trip, knowing the Angeles Crest Highway was going to be filled with blissful mountain curves, I found a great choice of cutlery to sample that platter of deliciousness – a 2017 718 Boxster. If you’re reading this and thinking – oh, the 1975 911 Turbo, or a 2019 Cayman GT4, or… whatever – would have been SO much better – well sure, maybe. But the mid-engine 718 was the best of that bunch on Turo at the time of booking. Personally, I would have loved to have my 2002 C2 Cabrio for this, but the Boxster was a decent replacement.
With 300 horses summoned from the turbo flat four, the 718 had plenty of get up and go. My biggest complaint was the sound. The four doesn’t have the same delightful rumble as the previous year’s flat six, while the added pops and gurgles sounded synthetic to my ears. It didn’t take long for me to get over that shortcoming – at the first tight bend, to be precise, and the corners continued to distract me quickly and repeatedly for the next few hours.
Once you’re past the urban sprawl and into the hills, the traffic drops off quite quickly. There are a few fellow drivers and cyclists, but it’s generally pretty quiet up there.
Once you’re past the urban sprawl and into the hills, the traffic drops off quite quickly. There are a few fellow drivers and cyclists, but it’s generally pretty quiet up there. The tight bends mixed with some dramatic elevation changes make for a world-class drive, and the 718 handled it all like a champ. I had the top dropped for the beginning and end of the drive, but the heat in the peak of the afternoon was over 40ºC in the shade, so I had the top up with the windows down.
In terms of the scenery, for every curve I attacked, I was met with the dilemma of foregoing another potentially beautiful photo, so it was an ongoing internal debate between (a) Stop and take some photos of this outstanding landscape! or (b) Keep driving – don’t stop! I did my best at balancing both.
If you find yourself in the LA area looking for a spirited drive – the Angeles Crest Highway will not disappoint. </>