The Suitcase Lady

Cartalk

October 4, 2016, 7:52 pm

I realized the other day that only an “a” separates the names of the cars my husband and I are currently driving. Somehow, we have ended up with a Fit and a Fiat.

Buying a car should be a pleasurable experience. But for those of us who abhor bargaining, car buying is a dismal, prolonged and absurd game. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, it is the only way to get a vehicle without being run over.

When my husband’s little, 1991 Miata convertible got very, very tired two years ago, we sent it to a cozy barn near us for a rest. At around the same time, my car, a Hyundai Accent, decided it did not want to be a Cuban car and live forever. The ugly car buying ritual loomed. When you are a grown up, it’s nice to have one reliable car in the family.

We have only three criteria when buying a car: low price, high mpg and shortness. Our cars are housed in our one car garage, parked end to end. If one of us wants a longer car, it’s understood that the big car will be parked outside and be shoveled out from blizzards by the one who wanted it. Shortness remains on the criteria list.

We spent a miserable Saturday checking out short cars at multiple dealerships. All were horribly designed and overpriced, nothing either of us could get excited about. As the afternoon ended, we had a brainstorm. We remembered the Fiat 500 we had rented in Europe, drove hundreds of miles, and both loved.

Fiat dealers are few and far between, but we located one the following weekend. The Fiat was as good as we remembered. But one thing was not good, American roads. In the Netherlands, we drove on roads smooth as glass, not a crack, pothole or patch in sight. Since our American roads are a crumbling disgrace, the Fiat’s short wheel base yields a bumpy ride.

We bought the Fiat, but we bought a used one, figuring it would be used only for short trips around home. It has risen to every occasion, including bringing 14 feet long boards home from the lumber yard.

This spring when my beloved, orange Hyundai succumbed to old age, we replaced it with a “big” car, a Honda Fit. The Fit fits in the garage and regularly gets 40 miles to the gallon. Plus, we can take a 1,000 mile road trip and still have all our bones intact.

We hope to be out of the car buying business for many years.

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