QOTD: Thank Heaven for Little Cars?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd thank heaven for little cars

I nearly bought a Suzuki Swift once. If memory serves me correctly, and who knows if it does, it was a 1991 model. Or a 1993. Black, with two doors and the big, honkin’, pavement-pounding 1.3-liter inline-four. A real brute!

Alas, without much money in my pocket (I was, what, 18?) and a pressing desire to not be seen as the guy in the Geo Metro, I made a fateful choice. That Swift stayed exactly as I found it, slowly decomposing in the back corner of a sketchy used car lot, and I turned my attention to another. Sadly, the affordable object of my affection turned out to be a total lemon that soured me on Chrysler Corporation for many years.

But enough about the Plymouth Sundance.

Once in a blue moon, I wonder how different my life might have turned out had I purchased that Swift and become a card-carrying member of the subcompact crowd. Maybe you don’t have to imagine the experience, though. Maybe a very small car wormed its way into your heart and never really left.

I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t have almost immediately paid for a valve job, fuel pump, catalytic converter, and God knows what else had I purchased that Swift. While the Sundance offered a roomy cabin, comfortable seats, oddly solid steering and suspension, and 93 rampaging ponies, perhaps I missed a transformative experience by passing over the smaller vehicle. I’d at least have had more spare cash.

A fellow at my high school owned a 1990 Swift Turbo — three-cylinder turbo — and he couldn’t shut up about it. Yes, he was probably just happy to have his own wheels, and his ironic delivery made it pretty clear where he was coming from. But compared to our three-speed GM sedans, that blown featherweight egg really moved off the line (and kept going and going).

I think of this oft-overlooked segment because of the rumors swirling around the Chevrolet Sonic and Spark. The bottom of the automotive food chain. Is it a segment you think of with fondness? If so, why? What little car proved its worth in your life?

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  • Mcarr Mcarr on Apr 11, 2018

    The one I miss most was the 1993 Nissan Sentra SE-R. Loved that little car. Currently drive a Sonic Turbo. None of the soul of the Sentra, but a better car in every other way.

  • Opus Opus on Apr 12, 2018

    Won't count my '68 VW beetle, or my '72 240Z (subcompact interior room, but not really in the segment). Helped my gf/wife get into a '79? Plymouth Champ LS (with the Twin-stick) which was later traded on a new '84 Civic S. Both of those were much funs. Later on, the Civic went toward a '91 Protege. All manuals, all goood.

  • Allamericanred Interesting that as a car design nut that hates most American Suv designs that I think it is a pretty good design that stands apart but is not odd. The color really impacts how it looks to me. Some just do not work
  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
  • MaintenanceCosts I saw my first IS500 out in the wild today (a dark-grey-on-black example) and it struck me that it was much more AMG-like than this product. (Great-looking and -sounding car.)
  • ToolGuy https://youtu.be/Jd0io1zktqI
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