My trip to California gets off to a bad start: the car hire company at Los Angeles Airport can't provide a suitable 4x4 for my drive along Highway One, the spectacular road that hugs the Californian coastline between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Looks like my plan is a non-starter.
But, after having been in LA for a couple of days I meet an old friend Charlie Perriera, a car nut with a fabulous vehicle collection that includes a stunning, 9000-mile 1992 Range Rover Classic - which he promptly offers me for my trip.
His instructions are simple: 'Look after it and don't go wandering off-road.' My reputation for going off-tarmac clearly goes before me!
Highway One starts at Long Beach in south Los Angeles and snakes 578 miles along the coast to Leggett in northern California. The first leg out of LA is now Route 101, a high-speed freeway that will take me to Santa Barbara via Santa Monica, Malibu and Ventura. Santa Barbara is alive with activity: boats, roller bladers, shoppers and a boardwalk pier.
The Range Rover is a joy to drive, dispatching every mile with ease while I enjoy the air conditioning, superior driving position and sheer pleasure of driving a Range Rover Classic again (I've owned several of my own over the years).
After passing the tiny city of Harmony, I come across Hearst Castle, former home of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, whose daughter Patty was famously kidnapped. It's vast, tacky and as over-the-top as many things in the US are.
Highway One changes with every bend and now becomes even more dramatic, with sheer rock faces on my right and stony cliffs down to foaming sea on my left. Here it's a meandering rollercoaster of a road, where overtaking isn't an option, despite the 3.9's excellent performance. I also have to keep reminding myself that it's not my car - Hervey, just behave yourself!
Further along the coast I discover Carmel, a small town made famous by a big star, former mayor Clint Eastwood.
Next up is Monterey's coastal resort of Pebble Beach, famous for the Pebble Beach Concours, the ultimate showcase for exotic classic cars. It's also where many rich and famous people live in stunning - and sometimes very tacky - houses. I decide against paying to use the '17-mile drive' to view their wealth. I pass a seaside resort with the unimaginative name of Seaside, then another town with a daft name: Freedom. Oh, please!
Highway One still hugs the coast on the final run to San Francisco, with the Pacific Ocean on my left and some spectacular terrain to my right. It's fantastic.
At the end of a long day, in perfect weather, I arrive in San Francisco with its stunning skyline and wonderful architecture. I book into the Mark Hopkins Hotel, one of the best in town. Sitting in the roof bar with a large, icy vodka and tonic, I reflect on my amazing journey as I take in the breathtaking view.
Over my drive I've encountered many wonderful sights and seen immaculate classic cars and beautiful Harley-Davidsons doing exactly the same as me: enjoying the thrill and spectacle of this famous route.
Do try it - it's a journey everyone should make at least once in a lifetime.
Originally featured in the June 2014 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
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