QOTD: What Was Your Most Memorable Test Drive?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd what was your most memorable test drive

Having been on a few trips to the dealer lately, this question comes naturally. Well, not because any great thrills arose from my visit to the local Hyundai retailer, but older memories are often shaken loose through mundane experiences.

The dealer experience isn’t normally one that inspires an upturning of the corners of your mouth. Frankly, if I never had to walk into one again, I’d be a happy man. But joy — and terror — can be found in many places. Good or bad, what dealer test drive memory stands out in your mind?

For my dad, it was the economical car that nearly killed him. Having just landed a job, dad headed on down to the local Volkswagen dealer to see if this diminutive little car he’d seen in ads was actually worth driving. Maybe long-haired flower power resided in its tiny engine compartment (it was 1968).

The test drive went well, I recall him saying, until he approached a stop sign located immediately after a sharp little turn. A hook, really. Coming up to the stop sign under moderate braking (or so he claimed), the VW lifted its inner rear wheel to such heights, emergency countersteering was required to prevent a rollover. The Beetle was returned to the dealer unscathed, and the unnerving episode compelled my dad to head to the Ford lot in search of a Falcon.

For me, the most joyful test drive memory originated at a dumpy used car lot in my final year of high school.

Up here in Canuckistan, there once existed a strange entity: Grade 13. No longer in existence, this grade saw students attend maybe half a day’s worth of (essentially useless) classes, interspersed with stretches of boredom. What to do? If you were like me and my friends, you went car shopping. Usually, $1,000 served as the price ceiling.

This particular BHPH lot accepted society’s dregs. Rusty, beaten-up compacts, mostly, plus a strong contingent of flaking midsizes with opaque headlight lenses (this was the turn of the century, mind you — the only clear headlights were of the sealed beam variety). It wasn’t these rolling pillars of mediocrity that tempted my little group, however — it was the bargain basement land barges left over from brighter days, sitting ignored and unwanted in the far corners of the lot. I’ll forever regret missing out on that light blue Lincoln Mk. VI ($1,000 obo).

One day, a pristine ’89 Grand Marquis appeared, looking dignified and aspirational with its turbine-style wheels, whitewall tires, and vinyl top. Inside, soft blue benches beckoned. Bingo! To be honest, none of us actually entertained the possibility of buying it, but who’s going to turn down a chance to live out their greatest car chase fantasy? And so, grandma’s old car got the workout of its life. The old Merc’s 302 V8, floaty suspension, and over-assisted steering worked just as expected. Wider grins were never seen.

So what’s your best test drive memory? New or used, frustrating or uplifting — surely you have a story. Let us know in the comments.

[Image: Hemmings]

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  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 17, 2018

    Back when I was in what I call my "immortal phase" I wanted a motorcycle. I bought a late 70s Suzuki 550GS and road the tires off of it. Good little bike albeit pretty low powered. Did some cross state rides. Then I wanted a Motorcycle with a capital 'M' so I sold it to a buddy and went to the local Kawasaki dealer to see what they had for sale. There was a 1000cc Kawasaki Concours sport tourer. Nice bike. The no pressure salesman gave me a price and I went home to think about it. I went back with my money in my pocket ($4500) and asked to ride it before I bought it. Understand I showed up in shorts, a t-shirt, flip-flops and wanted to ride this motorcycle. They never even checked for a license. I grabbed my helmet out of my car and headed down the street. The dealer is backed up against a major interstate. My plan was simply to ride from one exit to the next. As I entered the onramp a 90s Z-28 hopped in behind me and got dangerously close and stayed there. Drunk, stupid or what I don't know but I didn't want to get killed. He chased me down the interstate at triple digits. I passed behind the motorcycle dealership running 130 mph. The Z-28 gave up at around 120 mph I think but I was too busy to look back. Going too fast at the next exit I had to wait until the following exit to turn around. I'll also mention that there is a highway patrol station a few doors down from the motorcycle dealer. I returned and told them I'd take it. Nobody seemed to notice that Concurs wailing by the back door earlier. Good bike. I rode it in all weather and all seasons all over my part of the country for several years. Never any wrecks or tickets. Sold it to a guy in the eastern part of the state that said he'd take it if I'd ride it home for him about 2.5 hrs away. Temps hovered around freezing for the whole ride. Cost me about a grand to ride it all that time.

  • Xidex Xidex on May 18, 2018

    friend of mine i was with wanted to trade in his 89 5.0 LX on a new 93 bronco, lady was very friendly and when we asked if we could take it off road to try out its 4x4 abilities said np ! we went down to the local mud hole and proceeded to get the bronco stuck (stock tires suck !) We had to crawl out of this mud hole to go get help, by the way she was in a skirt and high heels lol.we got her out of the truck and up onto the pavement where we called a friend that had a truck capable of pulling us out. A couple hours later we returned the bronco and the lady to the dealer and my friend decided not to buy the truck lol...must have taken the lot boys hours to clean all the mud off this thing and under it ! another time i test drove a 2004 f150 lightning , the saleman kept boasting how awesome the truck was and how powerful it was, saying tromp on it, do some burn outs, well i obliged him. Was one hell of a test drive for a hour or so, unfortunately the truck was a little low of rubber on the rears when we returned :)

  • Kcflyer on one hand it at least wont have dirty intake valves like Honda's entire lineup of direct injection ice vehicles. on the other hand a CRV offers more room, more range, faster fueling and lower price, hmm
  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.