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CANNONBALL!

On Sunday, racers will zoom out of four cities on a cross-country race called the Great American Run that harkens back to those goofy Cannonball Run movies of the '80s. Few us have the $10,000, or the moxie, to put the pedal to the metal, but we can dare to dream, right? I asked our readers to tell me what car they'd take to the starting line. Some of the answers were expected (Porsche, Corvette). Some were surprising (Harney, Citroen). But all of them will get you from Miami to L.A. My choice? Has to be KITT from Knight Rider, at right. It drives itself, so I can kick The Hoff to the curb (no time to stop for burgers!) and take along a co-pilot who'll keep that long drive fun. Maybe Best Week Ever's sassy Jessica St. Clair. What car would you pick?

Jim Terry, 59, Largo - Corvette

It's fast, and can cruise at 100-plus mph with no problem, can hit 180 mph and all the time getting mid 20 miles per gallon, which helps a lot in a distance race. It has a very thin frontal area, which makes a small target for those radar beams. And, it's a Chevy! That makes it reliable and easy to get service.

Arthur Rideout, 66, Spring Hill '01 Harney Renegade

The motor home would allow an uninterrupted trip from Miami to Long Beach, Calif. First, you take a 2001 Harney Renegade motor home, no longer in production, with a 330-horsepower Cat diesel engine. "Overtire" it with 315/85R 22.5 Goodyear tires to allow the tires to run cool. Fit the coach with three 100-gallon fuel tanks, in addition to its 86-gallon original tank, and you will have the range at 9-plus miles per gallon.

Rick Spector, 52, Tampa '05-06 Ford GT

This is the car that harkens back to those heady days when the Ford GT40s (including the GT, Mark II, Mark IV and J-Car) absolutely dominated Le Mans and the whole sports car racing world. It was a time when America was on top when it came to technology and innovation.

P.J. Cook, 48, Safety Harbor '07 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500

It is the first car truly worthy of Carroll Shelby's name in decades. I drive a Mustang GT convertible daily, so the feel of the car would be there already with the addition of the 500 ponies under the hood! It is a affordable American car that can teach the supercars a definite lesson in how America gets things done.

Charles Huska, 65, Clearwater '08 Porsche Cayenne V8 Turbo

If you are going coast to coast, you might as well go in comfort. Highway estimated mileage? 19 miles per gallon (figure 15 miles per gallon) Top speed? 165-170 mph. Fuel capacity? 26.4 gallons. We carry our extra gas with us. We get lighter as we go. Plenty of fluids on board, but no solid foods. Dual catheters for driver and co-pilot. We stop for no one and no thing!

Robert Collins, 45, Hudson '92-'95 Chevrolet Caprice

I am a former New York deputy sheriff and have spent many hours behind the wheel of this type of automobile. With a top speed of 137 mph, it has all the horsepower that is needed and is the same power plant used in the Corvette, while still giving the comfort of a luxury cruiser for a long distance run. It has a complete performance package of heavy duty features, such as heavy duty suspension, cooling system, battery, tires and exhaust for less restriction and better flow, and the car has a blend-in feature while running from state to state in a plain, white wrapper.

Dave Archibald, 57, Dunedin Citroen 2CV

This may seem un-American, but in a time of rising fuel prices and angst about global warming, Citroen's "deux chevaux" seems a whimsical and lovable choice. Guaranteed to finish last (top speed 65 kilometers an hour), it will still finish like a fine pinot noir.

Bill Boyd, 62, Apollo Beach '64 Shelby Cobra

Many cars are faster. Many are more luxurious. But the 289 Cobra provides the enjoyment of the trip, not just a quick ride to a destination. And, it provides that whether or not the road is straight for 100 miles (Florida) or only 50 feet (Blue Ridge Mountains). The '64 Cobra makes the driver aware of the world outside the car. All the comforts added to modern sports cars are there to make the driver forget.

Mike Sagese, 62, St. Petersburg Maybach Exelero

It's the closest thing to the Batmobile. It's a "head turner." There are very few in existence. It has 700 horsepower and drives like it's a "luxury" NASCAR and Formula 1 car, all in the same car.

Dominick J. Valenti, 59, Oldsmar Toyota Camry SE V6

I would go with a stock, white Toyota Camry SE V6, with added tinting to the windows over the factory tint to keep the interior of the vehicle cool for the ride, and ground effects with a rear spoiler.

Ray S. Gilbert, 65, Tampa '04 Ford Thunderbird

This car is the safest that I could buy. It has same chassis as the No. 16 car that Danica Patrick raced when she drove for Rahal Letterman. The Thunderbird has tracking control, four air bags, is limited to 140 mph top end, so that at 75 mph it is not even straining. Nice to have power when you need it. Seats are comfortable (and heated). It gets excellent gas mileage and drives like a performance car. It has the power to get out of its own way.

About the Great American Run

We're guessing Burt Reynolds, far left, and Dom DeLuise aren't among the maximum 400 teams entered, but if you have $10,000 and are a licensed driver, you can enter the Great American Run (www.thegreat americanrun.com), which starts Sunday. Some details:

WHAT'S THE GOAL? "The objective is to complete the course with an average speed at or below the national speed limit rather than being the first car to arrive," says Tim Porter, CEO of Cannonball Run World Events. Racers will start from Miami or New York, meeting in Las Vegas before for the final leg to Los Angeles - a run of about 2,900 miles. Routes between checkpoints are "closely guarded secrets," and are revealed at the beginning of each leg.

WHAT'S THE PRIZE? $1-million, a trophy, a 600-horsepower custom modified Saleen S281 Extreme Mustang and an entry in the next event.

WHAT DOES IT COST? Your $10K gets you and a co-pilot hotel rooms, parking, meals, parties and other goodies. You're on the hook for gas, insurance, tolls and repairs.

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