Hooniverse Asks: What's the Farthest You've Ever Travelled to Buy a Car or Part?

So, I just recently bought a used car—more on that later this week—and I had to drive more than 100 miles round trip in order to seal the deal and bring my new (old) baby home. It was while I was stuck in Saturday afternoon 101 freeway traffic on the return leg that I started thinking that was the farthest I had ever travelled to buy a car. Maybe that’s not saying much for my sphere of enthusiasm, I don’t know.
I’ve bought and sold more than 20 cars over the years, but they’ve always been local, sometimes within walking distance! I did trek across the San Fernando Valley once for a Datsun fender, but even that trip wasn’t all that far. What about you, have you ever gone to great lengths to procure a car or truck or even a part? How far was it, and did it end up being worth the trip?
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  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    About 1000 miles, each way. Fly out, drive home. It was a 4-day adventure, including sightseeing.

  2. Maymar Avatar

    I once travelled about 250km (one way) to buy a cheap, busted Jeep YJ. It was rusted to hell, one of the driveshaft yokes was snapped, it was just an awful idea (I mean, I knew it was in rough shape going in, no surprises on the seller’s behalf, I just overestimated my ability, motivation, and budget).
    But, since that was right around the limit of how far CAA was willing to tow for me, that’s how I got it home. The driver who showed up was convinced I had wrecked it and was trying to cover my tracks, and let me know in no uncertain terms he knew what was up. Once that was out of the way, he set about getting everything hooked up. That was fun.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    50 miles away is considered local to me. I did bring a Fiat 850 Spider from Ohio to Georgia. But I was working a co-op job in Ohio at the time. I usually restrict my car searches to within 250 miles one way.

  4. JayP Avatar

    Flew from DFW to Portland OR to buy the ’05 Mustang.
    Took 2400 miles and 4 days to get back home.
    Worth the trip – I needed it.

  5. Ayreonaut Avatar

    Hm.. I drove 230 miles one way, about 500 overall to rutland vermont from outside of syracuse NY, to buy one of my current jeeps. I got a damn steal though. 1998 grand Cherokee fully loaded limited, but with v8 delete so it had the 4.0 and selectrac 4wd. Every single thing worked perfect on it, it only had 115000 miles and no rust at all on it. 700$ and it was mine 🙂 all said and done, me and my girl rented a mazda6, drove out to NYC which is a hike in itself to see a grateful dead & company show, drove up to VT, bought the jeep, drove back across the border to register it at a NY DMV and drove back to VT to bring the jeep and rental all the way home, everything all together including jeep, DMV, rental, gas, was 1100$

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Is that long ago? Outstanding deal + travel adventure = perfect.

      1. Ayreonaut Avatar

        It was back in November right after my 97 Cherokee with a 5″ lift and 33s got hit and rolled over and totaled. It was an amazing deal, I’ve already driven it 16000 miles since then haha! It was a great trip and I’ll always remember it. Me and the girl like to do a lot of back country camping without really planning haha, we just look for state forests or parks and set up a tent for the night. Vermont in the autumn is a beautiful place.

  6. Cragon McBride Avatar
    Cragon McBride

    318 miles round trip. That’s pretty standard for the Midwest.

  7. 0A5599 Avatar

    Farthest to get a project car was about 380 miles round trip. The car, plus a lot of parts from 2 parts cars, including heavy, bulky sheetmetal. Completely overloaded (by weight and by volume) a 20-foot trailer, plus the truck towing it, a 1980 F-150 making a little more than 100 hp. Loaded 0-60 time was measured in minutes. Didn’t matter because the loaded trailer was so tail heavy, it would sway violently above 45 mph. I think we left home at 6 am and returned around 10 pm.

  8. Papa Van Twee Avatar
    Papa Van Twee

    I once traveled 30 miles to sell a car, meeting someone half way. When I lived in a small northern Indiana town, we would travel 25-40 miles to check out cars in South Bend. So I guess my 1983 Plymouth Sapporo at about 40 miles would be the farthest I’ve traveled.

  9. onrails Avatar

    331 and 610 miles for motorcycles with a trailer and towing home. Got my Solstice with a cheap one way plane ticket and drove it home 760 miles. The things we do in the north to find a car with no rust!

  10. Sjalabais Avatar

    That’s pretty impressive, but I guess you also live in an incredibly densely populated area? Reading about an actual DMC dealer in LA, and all the other speciality stuff available in your area, is just witness to a huge market.
    The two farthest trips I’ve had were bummers. A Peugeot 504, a story I’ve told before, a 15h bus ride + 1h on a ferry away. I arrived there enthusiastically, trusting the 80 year old seller, an active church man. As I have learned several times, the hard way, those preaching high morals often have the worst. Left angry and empty handed, going the same route home. Another time I was to buy an enthusiast owned Volvo 940 Turbo in ship shape. Except, it wasn’t. Partially bad paint, cheap Chinese tires mounted against their mandatory rolling direction…disheartening. Took a plane back again, across the entire country.

  11. GTXcellent Avatar

    About 500 miles round trip for a set of rims. I’ve also driven about the same distance to look at a ’67 GTO that I didn’t buy (gorgeous shape, but a 400 with a 2bbl and a powerglide, yuck – oh, and the guy only wanted $5k for it – this was in 1993)

  12. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    From Houston TX I flew out to Myrtle Beach SC to buy and subsequently drive my Lotus Elan home. More fun than driving 90 miles down to League City to buy the TSX, twice at the dealer

  13. Alff Avatar

    I’ve gone a couple hundred miles for a few cars. The last one took me from KC to Lincoln with a transporter in tow. On the way home I spotted a billboard for a government auto auction the next day. At the time the wife needed a van to replace her 180K and rusty 2005 Grand Caravan. Kept the transporter an extra day and brought her home a shiny “new” 8 year old 2006 model with only 13K miles.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      1625 miles per year. About 600 hours of run time at 22 miles per hour. That’s less than 4% of a 40 hour workweek.
      Which governmental organization thought they needed your tax dollars to buy a minivan that stayed parked 96% of the time?

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        A guy on a different forum I frequent just bought a new Ford Ranger pickup. The truck is expected to run 1100km/year on average, as have his other pickups. I applauded his attitude toward keeping the economy humming, but I can’t with my very best intentions understand why he didn’t just get a used Hilux – or kept using his five year old Amarok.

      2. Alff Avatar

        It spent its life on an unidentified native reservation. Was a GSA auction.

  14. alex Avatar

    I live in RI, and I bought a car from a friend in Atlanta. Flew down and we drove it back together, just under 1200 miles. Right about 14 hours. Bought him a return ticket as part of the deal.

  15. The Real Number_Six Avatar
    The Real Number_Six

    In 2000 I walked an hour across Vancouver to buy a motorcycle. What a pleasant morning that was…

    1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
      Fred Talmadge

      That reminds me I broke a piston ring on a Austin Healey 100-6. A new set was a couple hundred dollars, but I found an old mechanic in San Francisco would make a ring if he had too. So from the east bay, I took a bus to the rapid transit, rode it into SF, took a cable car and walked up a steep hill and several blocks, lugging that piston around. Guy measured it up and figured some old Chevy piston rings would work. He sold me a set for the piston for less than $10. Took all day, but it was worth it.

  16. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Selling: 500 & 650 miles. both went smoothly.
    Buying, 65 miles. Unfortunately, after renting a trailer and driving an hour to meet the guy, the bike [a Suzuki GT185, which is on my bucket list] was not nearly in the condition advertised and the guy wouldn’t negotiate on price, so the trailer came home empty and we came home frustrated and sad.

  17. nanoop Avatar

    I had to drive 100.000km until I could buy my current car.

  18. Jason Newman Avatar
    Jason Newman

    Melbourne to Broken Hill (Australia) and back 1800 km (1120 miles) for this set of wheels and tyres for my ute. Even after hotel room and a stop at the mad max 2 museum it saved me about $1000 from buying them new. The wifes car was about 1600 km (1000 miles) as it was hard to find in the colour and spec she wanted. That was fly out and drive back

  19. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I’m probably small potatoes here. The longest drive I can recall is 180 miles round trip from Alfred NY to Rochester NY to get my Volvo 164 fixed. Coincidentally a few years ago Rock Auto shipped my brake rotors from their warehouse in Henrietta (suburb of Rochester) across the US to Portland OR.

  20. Borkwagen Avatar

    Live in Boston, been to South Carolina twice to buy cars. Once an MR2 Spyder, the other for a Jag XJR. Stopped in DC both times on the way back, and even made it back without incident once. No prizes for guessing which car let me down.

    1. CraigSu Avatar

      That XJR wouldn’t happen to be silver over black and purchased in Summerville, SC, (just outside Charleston) would it?

      1. Borkwagen Avatar

        Nope, it was purple, really loud, and manual, and in Florence.

        1. CraigSu Avatar

          Definitely not the one I was watching. It was a 2006 and only had 34,000 miles. The owner thought it could be the best example in the country and was asking $24,000 for it. A bit of a premium and just above my budget but it looked really sharp. The listing disappeared shortly after the severe flooding they had in the area so I was always worried that the car didn’t survive without damage.

          1. Borkwagen Avatar

            Eesh, that’s a helluva condition premium; that generation XJR should be going for 2/3 that at the most. Probably for the better you didn’t go for it.

  21. salguod Avatar

    It was about 250 – 300 miles round trip to buy our Prius. I needed to trade or sell my 2010 Outlook and I could get no interest on Craigslist and no dealer with a Prius worth buying would give me a fair offer on trade. A dealer near Cleveland had just the car we wanted at a fair price and came up to our minimum on the trade. Worked it all out over email and then I drove the Outlook up, did the deal and drove the Prius back. Mostly painless.

  22. jeepjeff Avatar

    It depends on how you count it. The direct route for both Big Bike and Little Bike was around 70 miles for both. However, both are complicated by various factors:
    For Big Bike, the hassles with the DMV paperwork meant going back by the seller’s workplace twice, which was a 50 mile one-way trip, and thus added 200 miles of travel for purchasing the bike (however: I did manage to roll one trip down into a visit to friends in the South Bay, so it wasn’t totally out of my way).
    For Little Bike, the only dealership that carries them in reasonable distance is Stockton Honda Yamaha, and they’re also about 70 miles away by the efficient route, just east instead of south. However, when I bought Little Bike, I only had my learner’s permit, so I wasn’t allowed on interstates (really: divided highways with a >50mph speed limit). So, I ended up taking the scenic route back through the deep East Bay (Concord, Walnut Creek and so forth). It was fun, but I got turned around a couple times, and end up going 90 miles instead of 70. Little Bike was also a little bit of a crazy experience, as it was also the first time I’d ridden a motorcycle on the street. (Yes. I split on that trip. I told myself I wasn’t going to, but I got stuck in traffic in Walnut Creek behind someone who didn’t know what a gas pedal was, and splitting at a red light was the only way around.)

  23. PaulE Avatar

    New car purchase? About 200 miles each way.
    Used car adventure? About 1700 miles, one-way. Ten years back, I picked up an old Saab 9000 in Los Angeles for next to nothing. I had taken a look at it while on vacation out there, then flew back to LA a week later to pick it up.
    Once I got the car, I went over it (changed the oil and fitted E-code lights), then drove it back to Iowa with minimal hassles. The A/C wimped out… in Nevada… in early July… in a black car. It also ran a bit hot, so I had to crank the heat up full in 100+F temps but still managed a quick pace all the way home.
    Just in case, I had brought a full set of tools in my checked luggage, which didn’t need to be used once on the way. Had the car died, I was prepared to hitchhike back to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, buy a plane ticket and go home, car-less. I still have the car.

  24. ptschett Avatar

    When I lived in Gwinner, ND (’04-’08), I bought my ’05 Dakota from a dealer in Moorhead, MN (85 miles away, just across the river from Fargo) and my KLR650 in Sioux Falls, SD (220-240 miles away depending on the route.) While I lived there I needed to take monthly(ish) trips to Fargo to get parts & supplies for the motorcycle.
    My job in Gwinner ended due to the Great Recession, so I moved to Fargo. I once bought a pickup-box load of Austin-Healey Sprite/MG Midget parts from a fellow in West Fargo (just across 45th Street from my city of residence), but promptly sold them to my dad for his collection of 3 Sprites, a Midget & a Morris Minor at the family farm in eastern South Dakota. My dad also bought his ’68 Cutlass S convertible here after I saw it at the local classic-cars dealer.
    Looking a bit further back: when I was in my teens, my dad & grandpa were looking for trucks of certain specifications to add to the farm fleet. There were a few mornings in those mid-’90’s summers where I got up much earlier than I’d have liked to accompany my grandpa to travel to such far-flung places as the Twin Cities (~250 miles one-way) or Kansas City (~500 miles one-way), but I enjoyed it because I got to do a lot of the driving (even though it was in my grandpa’s brown ’93 Cadillac Sedan de Ville.)

  25. outback_ute Avatar

    650 miles for a $150 car, lucky I wasn’t paying for the fuel at approx 11mpg, probably cost double what the car did.
    Another one was 1050 miles to drive to the car, hire a trailer, take the car to its new home then return the trailer, in 20 hours. Just 2 tanks of fuel for that one! Ok so it holds 25 gallons…

  26. sporty88 Avatar

    About 4 years ago I flew from Sydney to San Francisco (about 12000 km) to buy a 1965 Plymouth Valiant Signet convertible. I then spent about 5 days in the bay area – about 4 1/2 days doing the usual tourist stuff in SF (tour of Alcatraz, riding cable cars, etc.) and most of a morning getting registration sorted out at the DMV – then took 3 days driving down PCH, and about a week in LA, before putting it in a container to be shipped back to Australia.

  27. 11fbwd Avatar

    I didn’t realize traveling far distances to buy a car was an unusual thing. Maybe I’m used to having to do so, with the foreign car offerings in the Detroit area so lacking and me usually being very picky. This past February I flew down to Birmingham, Alabama (750 miles) to pick up my current summer ride, an ’06 Z4 3.0si. Given that most of the Z4s around nationwide are automatics, and an even smaller percentage of the available sticks had the options I was looking for (sport seats, sport package, climate package, premium package, etc.), I was more than happy to do it. Well worth it given that I got a relatively complete service history and paid about what similarly optioned cars were going for at Manheim.
    I also drove from Detroit to Pittsburgh in a February blizzard a few years ago to pick up my S60, as the Volvo dealer there was undercutting our local retailer by almost $5,000 on a better optioned and lower mile example.

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