How to wreck a car, Salta, Argentina

At the risk of exposing the pack of lies told to Hertz car rental when the car was returned, I think it is certainly worth passing on these very useful instructions, that specifically apply to a Chevrelot Classic LS.

To truly test the ability of the car, and beyond, you simply need to follow this route.

Initially you will start out with some mild offroad driving, with steep gradients and streams flowing over the road. You will also see the old road and railway lines that have been washed away by flooding. It's comforting to see the results of flash floods.

After about two hours of going uphill you will reach the town of San Antonio de los Cobres at an altitude of 3700 metres approx. Here, you will be faced with your most important decision. Ruta 40 or 38. You may also be running low on water, I'd advise stocking up.

To truly achieve a wrecked car, choose ruta 38.

Once you leave town the road gradually becomes better and better for destroying a car. It is basically the upper layer of Altiplano removed and filled in with broken rocks that are smoothed out by the traffic, which there is not much of, meaning you get a more old fashioned rougher cut of stone!

The consistency of the road means that you will be shaken constently kilometre after kilometre after kilometre and between the violent shaking you will be treated to the sound of those friendly rocks bouncing up from the tires to smash playfully against the underside of the car. Added to this is the Mario-Kart joy of avoiding holes in the road big enough to flip the car, and the challenge of negotiating streams cutting across the route so you have to walk through them to check the depth before driving on.

But this is all good, you are exactly where you need to be because after about 30 minutes of this you should start to notice certain things happening to the car.

  • The radio should now be shaken from its socket with the cables detached
  • The car clock should now be turned off
  • The speedometer, rev counter and engine temperature gauge should have stopped working.
  • All internal lights should no longer turn on
  • The indicators will no longer work
  • Most helpfully of all, the petrol gauge should also now not be working 100s of kilometres from a station, really giving you peace of mind!

It just reminds one of the simple joy of travelling with all of those pointless pieces of information prevented from disturbing the mind. Now that you are fully relaxed and at easy with your cars inner workings, it's time to head to the sandpits!

Once you leave the hard roads of the Altiplano the consistency becomes sandier with patches of pure sand in places. It's welcoming, like a soft bed after a hard day it sucks you in, but getting a car out of bed is slightly more difficult than a hungover person!

So if you don't want to get stuck you have to keep a high enough speed going, avoid ruts left by other cars, and most importantly you cannot flinch, any hesitation and the sand will smother you with pillows!

Of course the sand pits got the Chevy! Digging the thing out by hand and using a discarded old door frame from a previously more seriously wrecked car as a shovel was a great workout in the burning sun. Unfortuntely the video of this has been lost in time!

On the plus side, the views are spectacular!
Salt flats