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The Virtues of Being Small




The other day I was driving with a friend when they pointed at the Lincoln Town Car in front of us and said "Hah, look at that boat."

Granted, he was really talking about a toy sail ship seated on the rear deck, but the word boat has been frequently used to describe vehicles that travel on pavement instead of water. It was a bit mind-boggling to see that the massive six-seater Town Car was being sailed solo by one unfortunate fellow who probably had a gaping hole in his wallet thanks to his land yacht.

Weren't cars like that supposed to be made extinct by Cash for Clunkers?

I understand the appeal of a big four-door. I had the privilege of piloting a (rickety) 1986 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL a few years ago, and the plush comfort combined with a (exhaust-less) grumbling V-8 definitely caused my pride to swell a teensy bit. In 1986 that car was probably very appropriate. It cost less than $20 to fill up, and was a testament to luxury and safety.

Today, I fear for the extinction of such grand automobiles. At the same time, I say good riddance to crummy Cadillac DeVilles and Ford Expeditions. You're hogging all the oil for a car that is piloted by just one person most of the time. Do us all a favor and ride a moped, you gas-a-holic egomaniacs. 

I adore small cars. I've been behind the wheel of a Miata for nearly three years now, and I'm not dead. If you're worried about safety so much, learn how to drive defensively. Take piloting a car more seriously. The benefits you get to reap really do come in handy. Parking is effortless. Maneuvering is a cakewalk. And fuel economy? Well, lets just say in that department I get to have my cake AND eat it too. I could glue the gas pedal to the floor and still manage upper 20s in the city. Less weight means more of almost everything else.

Going small doesn't have to be as nerdy as a Vespa or a Smart ForTwo anymore. Thanks to the Cincinnati Auto Expo, I had the long-awaited opportunity to sit in a Rosso red 2012 Fiat 500. 

Thank goodnes for Italy.

I almost missed the little Fiat. There were no banners, no signs and no spokespeople. It was sitting all alone next to some SAABs or something, and if you weren't looking carefully there was a chance you'd step on it and get it stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

This thing is itty-bitty. Teensy-weensy. It's impossible to describe it's dimensions in expressions that aren't alliterated and hyphenated words. As I stood staring at my new dream car with my jaw on the floor, a few less enthusiastic individuals casually strolled by comparing it to the Smart ForTwo. That's like comparing dark wash slim-fit jeans with a pair of pleated Dockers. The Fiat is so much cooler, and you get so much more for the money.

Yes, it is cheap. Yes, you can see it here and there. However, if "cheap and cheerful" could have a face, it would be the 500.

Mind you, I've gone this gaga over a car I haven't even gotten to drive yet. It is as cool as it is small. That is the end of it.

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  1. Why do you hate America? Being large and in charge is what being American is all about, you liberal idiot!
     
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