Any list of great drive adventures on the East Coast should include Botany Bay. This special nature preserve in Edisto Beach South Carolina offers stunning old Oak trees and curvey roads from start to finish.
The property is free to enter, with a parking area a few miles in at the tital marsh and dunes. Then the action happens for most visitors: you stroll a boardwalk to a beach that is absolutely frozen in time. It is completely original, with hundreds of trees in the sands.
The backstory of the property traces to the Seabrook family's Sea Cloud plantation. Construction started in 1798, which is when the layout of the roads was cleared and planted with shade trees at twenty-pace intervals. More than 200 years later, the drive through is unlike anything else in the world. The property was donated to the state under the conditions that it be open to the public and not altered or developed. Whatsoever.
Our steed for this travel adventure?
None other than the incredibly fun 2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible! This tester is the new California Special with the automatic, but the stick is also offered. It is the Mustang GT only for the CS -- meaning a 435HP 5.0 up front that is a gem of a motor. Rich midrange and better top-end pull and sonics than previous Mustangs you may know and love. The engine is also packed with a torque plateau from all rev levels. It is just thumpin' and ready for action ... eight days a week.
The GT CS -- Cali Special -- is just $2k and includes special wheels, performance pack treats, unique body graphics and special spoilers. The chin splitter is the huge one from the GT or Perf Pack cars, while all-new fender vents are finished in lush gloss black. These have LED indicators inside. Very cool!
Special black accents outside and a rear wing, special badge and Pirelli P.Zero Neros round out the upgrade.
The car and its driver had much more fun on the twisty paved roads that meander out to this desolate time-capsule. We were shocked to discover that the conservation mission of Botany Bay means ... no roads! Ahhh! This is a low car.
We did most of the 20-minute entry and exit drive at perhaps 8-mph, or less. Just fast enough not to get stuck, but not so fast as to dirty the just-washed exterior.
Very slow, then, and very careful.
Luckily, this is one road where you should slow down to idle. Just soak in the nature as much as possible, from all angles. With no roof, the Angel Oak tree canopy had our necks on swivel.
On the way out, we stayed at crawling pace until the pavement was in sight -- perhaps a hundred feet ahead.
The last bit of the hard-packed sand/clay road is shown above in HD video form. The corrugated surface presents stunning visuals, but also a sample of a GT Convertible CS downside: there is some skuttle shake when you chop the roof and add so many performance parts....!
Luckily, the Mustang GT California Special makes up for this slight demerit by being one of the most playful, joyful and spectacular musclecars of all time.
As a ragtop automatic, even? Oh yes. All other cars just fade away. This is your Mustang.