Here’s to my beloved little smart car. Who had to retire a bit earlier than we’d planned, the repeated pummeling of Boston’s matchless collection of potholes finally too much for his totally nonexistent suspension. Thousands of dollars away from a plausible shot at an inspection sticker, we had to part ways. While i handled it better than the loss of my dear old minivan, it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as selling my Neon to a friend (who, years later, reported it was totaled saving his sister’s life in an accident in 2012—a great car).
Maybe i didn’t take as much crap for my little car as i did for insisting on using a janky mid-1990’s Mac at an engineering school, but if i’m honest with myself, it was a similarly iconoclastic, impractical, downright foolish decision in any objective sense. i really can’t honestly recommend them to anyone in the northeast—the maintenance is brutally expensive and you’re going to break too many things. Even if i didn’t spend huge amounts on maintenance, it sure felt like something was always broken. Something underneath the car, mostly.
So why did i love the little guy so much? Only a few of you got to drive him, and fewer still enjoyed it (ahem, @swimman79), but when you’re really truly used to it, it’s really like there’s nothing between you and the road. For better and for worse, obviously. But he goes right where you put him, squeezes into ludicrous parking spots, and once you get good at it, you can use all 70hp well enough to dodge Storrow traffic invincibly and beat almost anything off the line. It just felt good to drive. Comfy warm seats on a cold day, 360˚ of sunshine on a nice day, and a nice ledge for the girl to put her feet up on on the passenger side.
Cars are deeply personal because as Americans, we spend a lot of time in them. Good times, shouting along to Underworld after a tight shutout, bad times, sitting in traffic while preoccupied with something i designed that doesn’t work right.
The little man was there the whole time, and i will miss him so.
Big shoes to fill, new car, whom i will also name Car (but probably use a lot of other names, too). Big, little shoes.