Drive Video Deep Cuts: A Man, a Plan, Panama

Matt Farah travels up the Panama Canal without a paddle.

Panama Without a Paddle

The /DRIVE team wanted to film under Australian skies. The /DRIVE team wanted to motor across Italy. The /DRIVE team wanted to strafe the Autobahn. But, hey, even one of the internet’s most popular bands of drivers, racers and wrenchers has a budget. Australia is several solar systems away; European, even with faltering Euro, is expensive. The word from the producers: How about Panama? In the off-season, where it rains for 30 minutes approximately every two hours, round-the-clock?

You know Panama, the country with the canal that makes international shipping possible and is way more than just a one third of a palindrome. Matt Farah had never been there. After booking a handful of cheap flights, a plush Airbnb condo and a date with a señor who promised access to a half-dozen modified Panamanian autos, Farah and crew arrived ready for $1 beers and gobs of local car culture. Then everything fell apart.

“There was construction everywhere,” Farah remembers. “Driving around was basically lawlessness, and we were literally lost with nothing to do for the first three days of our trip. All of our contacts just up and vanished.” That slick pad? A classic internet bait-and-switch. they ended up in a flophouse across from a brothel. Morale was low.