With all the talk of the Cannonball Run movie the other day, I got to thinking about the 2904. While we can all agree that it's an incredibly reckless and otherwise idiotic thing to do (no lectures, please), I can't help but feel like it would be an insane journey.
So, how would you do it?
Considerations: Cost, weight, fuel economy, power, reliability, logistics, theme, stops, safety, police evasion, technology, comfort, and of course style.
Choosing a crown vic gets you -1000 originality points.
Here would be my plan while trying to estimate as conservatively as possible. And hoping for the best.
The car: Mercedes W123 TD wagon
For Example: http://sanantonio.craigslist.org/cto/4255386675…
Haggle him down to somewhere over a 2K purchase price. From there sell everything that you can to Mercedes Enthusiasts while stripping the car while reducing weight. This includes interior carpets, door cards, exterior trim pieces, everything not essential. Let's say a couple hundred here or there. Convert to bio-diesel and install two 20-25 gallon fuel cells (would probably eat up the profit from selling parts). Since it would be the first time with biodiesel, I would pray it would make it across the country without clogging up the fuel lines or a filter, but who knows.
Convert backseat into a sleeping area and pack the remaining cargo space with empty cardboard boxes that are taped up. Mark the boxes "kitchen", "living room", etc. Make it look like you're moving across country. Slap some NYU or other regional East Coast college stickers on the back window along with some stickers that your grandma would have put on there 15 years ago. Upgrade brakes, wheels, tires, seats, seat belts, ensure safety equipment (all exempt under rules). Right now you're still around $2K. Spend about $400 on all the gadgets you can find. . Leave about $500 in the kitty for emergencies and tolls.
3 People. One to drive, One to navigate, One to sleep. Rotate every stop. Mixed genders are key here, it helps when you can convince the cop that your girlfriend and the sleeping buddy in the backseat are moving to Palo Alto to work for that startup. Might also explain the laptops, cell phones and gadgets but probably not.
The Plan: Slow and steady
Conservative estimates would be that the added fuel capacity would be around 60 gallons. MPG on a 300TD would be 20-23 highway, with the added weight and higher speed, we'll do a conservative estimate of 15mpg. The trip is 2904 miles, again to be conservative we'll round up to 3200 for miscellaneous screw-ups and police dodging.
3200 miles / 15mpg = 213 gallons of fuel.
213 gallons / 60 gallon capacity = 3.5 which basically means 4 stops.
Might as well spread those out equally to make sure you have extra overlap in case of problems. That means a stop approximately every 720
Coordinate with groups in each city to have bio-fuel ready to be swapped into the tanks at pre-selected stops. These will also serve as the trip's only chance to bathroom break or get supplies. All other bladder needs will have to be handled in the car via bedpans or other disposable devices. Fueling will likely take a while so this can also serve as a chance to check up on the car and make any changes necessary. Barring any emergencies, these will be the only stops in the entire trip. To ensure speed and ease of entry and exit onto the highway, truck stops would be perfect for the rendezvous.
We're looking to break 36 hours here, so it's going to be tight. That means maintaining an average pace of 80mph throughout the trip and stopping every 8-9 hours. Top speed in a wagon with that kind of weight is going to be rather low. Hopefully if you've done your job on the weight shedding, you can keep it around 90 miles an hour for the open highway portions of the trip. A average highway speed of 85 mph means each stop can be about 30 minutes and you have a spare 30 minutes throughout the trip. Hopefully you can get that beast up a few more mph or make your stops more efficient to help out but I'm not expecting miracles here. The low speed will also hopefully keep you off of some of the country's law enforcement shitlist.
Note, the following estimates are just based off google maps, obviously planning a route would take a much more in-depth approach.
Shift 1: NY to Indiana.
Since this is the beginning leg of the trip, I imagine no one would need to sleep. Driver 1 drives, Driver 2 navs and keeps an eye out for smokies. Driver 3 monitors radios and other devices. Stop somewhere outside of South Bend or Indianapolis depending on which route you're taking. Celebrate the fact that you just made it through Ohio in one piece.
Shift 2: Indiana to Nebraska
Driver 1 heads to the backseat to get some rest, Driver 2 takes the wheel, and Driver 3 takes over nav and monitor duty. Stop somewhere around Kearney, Nebraska for refuel and maintenance. You're halfway there.
Shift 3: Nebraska to the Utah / Wyoming border
Same rotation, Driver 3 heads to the wheel, Driver 2 gets some rest, Driver 1 takes over nav and lookout.
Shift 4: San Francisco Bound
Same organization as shift 1. If all goes according to plan, you've made it and maybe even won.