How to Evacuate Key West for Less Than $100

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow
how to evacuate key west for less than 100

Hurricane Fay decided to crash my mini (small m) break here in alcohol-sodden Key West. Store keepers boarded-up their shops, tourists packed-up their rentals, polydactyl cats dove for cover and Starbucks kept everyone properly caffeinated. Watching the queue of cars on Highway 1 heading towards the mainland, Monica and I delayed our departure as long as possible. Sanity, and US Air Force safety policy, intervened with our procrastination. So we provisioned our rented Dodge Grand Caravan with extra water, Swedish Fish and coffee. Facing untold hours of driving, I had time to reflect on the evacuation-worthiness of our refrigerator white box on wheels. Fit 'n Finish are Chrysler Corp. standard (the panels don't fit and it's not finished). The van's lack of power complements the confused autostick four-speed tranny. The constant bands of rain have however produced some unseemly driving characteristics, such as constant accessory belt squeal and skittering tires, followed by abrupt traction control. The flat and unsupportive seats are not our friends. Stay tuned for updates on our progress from Key West to Ft. Lauderdale.

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4 of 15 comments
  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Aug 18, 2008
    The sloppy workmanship clearly illustrated nobody involved in assembly actually gave a shit how the product turned out I don't think it's completely, or even mostly assembly's fault, it's design and procurement as well. You can blame the plant for the misaligned panels, but that rear bumper, seat material and warp-if-you-look-them rotors are accountant decisions. It's acceptable to have a mundane vehicle that's reliable. The materials can be cheap, but if they're screwed down well it's tolerable. No one expects a $20K minivan to have a stitched leather dash and razor-thin panel gaps. Chrysler's actual materials aren't that bad for the price point. It's also okay (though much less so) for a car to be glitchy but beautiful and/or capable. You can forgive a Ferrari or Mercedes a lot. Heck, you can forgive a GTI a lot vis a vis the Toyota Corolla. It's definitely not okay for a car to be cheap and problematic. The old Chrysler, towards the end, usually managed to be cheap, but somewhat well-screwed together and reasonably reliable. After Daimler drove them into a tree they lost whatever virtues they had.
  • 86er 86er on Aug 18, 2008
    psarhjinian: The old Chrysler, towards the end, usually managed to be cheap, but somewhat well-screwed together and reasonably reliable. You are correct. My 2000 Dakota fits that bill. Hey, how about a Second-Gen Dakota used vehicle review, TTAC? You do need more trucks featured on here.
  • Blautens Blautens on Aug 18, 2008

    Sorry to hear you're getting the boot from Key West. I can tell you I spent one hurricane (I forget which, we've been through so many in the past 4 years) in a beachside hotel bar in South Palm Beach. Occasionally we'd have to grab something to keep it from flying by, but I'd won a weekend stay, and even though it was only 4 miles from my house and the hurricane was upon us, I was staying, damn it! (And so was my bartender, thanks to my liberal tipping policy...) Besides, this one isn't going to be're definitely getting the short end of the stick.

  • Confused1096 Confused1096 on Aug 19, 2008
    I can’t understand the mindset of a ChryCo customer voluntarily purchasing one of these vans. After a recent trip to a Chrysler lot, I think I do. I saw Caravans on sale (new) for $11,988. That, coupled with a lifetime powertrain warranty, is going to be mighty tempting to a buyer with a limited income.