Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Smart

For roughly three years....I owned a Smart.

It was a carefree type decision.  I admit, there were only four priorities on my list, and the Smart met all four.  That was probably not wise on my part, but only live once and need to make some bold and stupid decisions along the way.

It was only after I got it home that I realized that there was no spare tire.  There was a little can for 'huff-up' but you were pretty screwed if the tire ever went flat.  Yeah, I should have checked this out but I just assumed under the carpet through the back-door....there was some tire there.

On streets, it handled well.  On the autobahn, it always took thirty seconds to get up to full speed (that was with my foot pumped to floor).  One other autobahn feature was the 100 kph, an occasional breeze would push the car to the left or right.

As summer came, I realized the glass roof intensified the heat in the car.  After leaving it at'd be around 150 degrees inside the car and I'd have to lower the windows for two minutes while it chilled.

The AC unit?  It was the size of a Coke-can and gave me bare minimum relief.  When I say bare means BARE minimum.

The fuel tank was roughly five gallons.  Course, I did get roughly 38 mpg.  But with the distance to work (35 minutes) this meant that I filled the car up every four days.

The seats were crap.  After five months of driving, my back always had a pain and my hips hurt.  The seats barely went back three inches and the pitch went maybe 20-percent at best.

The radio was FM only.  The antenna?  It had to be screwed off every time I washed the car.  The speakers were cheap and worthless.

I had one headlight go out twelve months after I bought it.  I came to discover that you needed the hands of a seven-year-old kid to reach through and change the bulbs.  I was able to talk my son into doing the first time.  The second time.....I ended taking it over to the mechanic.....who removed the whole front grill to get to it.

In the winter time, I had a forty pound bag of sand in the passenger floor area for the first year.  For the second winter, I procured a second forty-pound bag.  For the third winter, I procured a third forty-pound bag.  If I had kept it for a fourth year.....I probably would have gone and added a fourth bag. Results?  Even with winter tires on the stupid car, the extra weight, and front-wheel was a death trap on ice.

I could park it anywhere (that was one of the four positives of the car against the thirty-two negatives).

It was easy to enter the vehicle and step out (made perfect for a tall guy, go figure that one).

Around the 12th month of ownership.....I reached a level of frustration with the car.  It was a serious threat to your safety if you ever got into an accident, and it simply didn't have any speed.  Making a trip from K-town to Wiesbaden?  With the bumps and cheap felt totally worn out, and it really hurt bad if you had to make a round-trip in one single day.

I kept the car for roughly three years.  I thought on gas mileage alone, it'd be easy to sell.  I was wrong.  On Ramstein, I had the car up for six weeks on the sell-lot, with only one single person asking questions.  I removed it.....waited for a month, decreased the price by $700 and had four people in one week interested.  Only one got real serious and I sold it for $1000 less than my previous listed price (it was blue-book before) so it went for a loss for me.

I look back at the car.  For urban was your dream vehicle.  For anything beyond that or was plain crazy and a serious threat to your life.  Oddly, I kept it for three years, and still will wake up in the middle of the night with some nightmare over the handling, the wind-effect, or the ice-slide effect of the car.

My wife always referred to it as the clown-car.....refusing to drive it, and I think she only rode in the passenger seat four times ever (she never drove it period).

The approach to the design?  That's the curious thing.  Everything about the car revolved around simplicity and simple fit.  I doubt if there were more than six guys on the design team, and one Chinese guy who crammed the smallest engine possible into whatever room was left.  I'm not even sure how the safety crash episode required by the German authorities was ever accomplished and passed by these folks.

So, my recommendation (it's been nine years since I owned this work of technology).  If you lived in some small town or village where you had no intentions of ever getting out or driving past 50 kph, and all you were ever going to transport was a case of beer or a dog.....well, is the car for you.  Otherwise, skip it.

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