I got my car last week, and it is… just awesome. I haven’t posted it about so far because I’ve been getting a feel for it, and didn’t want to jinx it by saying I loved it, only to discover some horrible flaw.
It’s such a fun car. I chuckle every time I glance behind me as I walk away from it; it’s so tiny, but it doesn’t feel small once I’m inside. The trompe l’oeil is titillating. I’ve spent the last week drive an unusually large amount. I drove over to my folks’ place just to have cereal. I’ve spent the past week sleep over at boyfriend’s place because the drive is no longer arduous. My little Italian car. I’m enjoying it so much.
The engine makes this nice little purring sound when I accelerate through first gear. The wheel turns so easily at low speeds, I’m still getting used to it. The little blinkers on either side of the car are adorable and bright. The horn is polite and fully ignorable (might have to change that). The sound system’s fidelity is like crystal. The turning radius is laughably awesome. I loaded the back with my first groceries last night; they fit with plenty of room to spare.
I had to break in the engine by driving under 60mph for the first hundred or so miles. That was an educational experience. I’ve re-discovered a quiet level of gut-wrenching that I haven’t experienced since I first started driving. Even in the slow lane, irritated drivers tailgate, then zoom past me, furious that I would obey the speed limits in an obviously new car. I’ve been cut off several times because I don’t bother speeding up to stop the offenders. I can’t risk anyone tapping my beautiful new machine; plus I’m leaving the turbo button alone for now, and don’t have the pickup without it to cause any real trouble.
Surprisingly, I’ve actually enjoyed driving more slowly. The whole experience of the car is heightened and stress-free. I’m going to have to spend more time in the middle lanes. The day I got it, on my drive home from Boyfriend’s place, a man in a Mercedes pulled up next to me at a stop light and asked me how much it was, and whether I liked it. I was all smiles.
No one else has driven it yet, though I’m going to offer the keys to Boyfriend for his birthday tomorrow. He’s such a cautious driver, and I’ve never sat in the passenger seat. Should be a fun time.
SIDE NOTE: I cannot wait to illustrate the title. Should be amazing. I have a vision!
T-minus 21 days and counting to Fiat
I was given an ETA of 45 business days from when I placed my order for a brand new Fiat 500. The only option I added to the basic model was the car alarm (which only came in a package with a better sound system and satellite radio, so I win!) and an automatic transmission. No silly decals, no engine block heater, no “smoker’s option” (whatever that is). Just 45 days to get an automatic with one add-on. I’ve heard from the guy at the bank who’s helping with the whole thing that it should arrive “soon.” The guy at the dealership said a couple weeks ago that “it should be here by the end of the month.” I called him yesterday and he said there was “a delay.”
Two months is a long time to wait for something you’re really, really looking forward to. It’s been 30 business days, and I’m chomping at the bit. It’s so close I can almost feel the stitching on the steering wheel under my fingers. No one in my family has ever owned a brand new car. We’ve always bought used, and that makes sense financially. I’ve had two bad experiences with cars (both American), and I’m tired of inheriting other people’s problems. I can’t wait! Raaaaaaagh!
I know I keep saying this, but it’s settled: I’m buying a Fiat. Within the month of May, I will own a brand new white Pop model Fiat 500 with brown and cream interior upholstery. And it will be just adorable. I went on another test drive yesterday, and I’m officially sold. It’s way better than a Yaris (sorry Toyota, it was a tight race until I saw the interior- why would you put your dials in the center of the console?!).
I’m suffering from some anxiety about buying such a small car, though, and these worries manifested in a dream last night. In the dream, I bought the Fiat, but was given a small plastic car instead. The kind children play with. And I couldn’t tell the difference. It was bright yellow and made of that solid but soft plastic that kids’ giant toys are made of. I drove off the lot amid a loud buzzing sound the engine made, and couldn’t tell I wasn’t driving the Fiat I’ve been pining for during the last two months.
Eventually, I got out of my little plastic pedal car, picked it up with one hand, walked back to the dealership and stood there at the counter where I demanded, “This is not a Fiat. Where is my Fiat?”
I’ve been doing some online research on cars, and I can’t get over how deceptive the photos are. Every photo shows a car with loads of expensive options. Show me the car I would actually get, not the one with the spoiler and racing kit that makes it impossible to go over speed bumps.
Tell the truth!
So… *sigh* I’m not known for being the best driver in the world. I wrecked my first car within the first two years of ownership. My second car (another Pontiac Grand Am) gave me all kinds of trouble. I also had the occasional close-encounter with poles. I sold it about a month ago just before it hit 100k miles and its value really plummeted, so I’ve been driving the car previously known as my dad’s old car, and before that known as my mom’s old car. It’s a 13 year-old pile of American metal with 130k miles on it. It’s louder and even less fuel efficient than my Pontiac was. Time to get a new car.
A couple good people from out of town came to visit my family and see the sights of Los Angeles this past week. We had a blast. I spent all my time off driving them around my hometown, people-watching like a tourist and enjoying the company of people I don’t get to see nearly often enough. You can imagine my delight when I was handed a chance to unwittingly entertain them with my notorious ability to cause body-damage to vehicles.
I was telling them all about the LA riots in 1992, and how my family chose to abandon our house when we could smell smoke from all the businesses being burned down just a couple miles to the south. On our way out of town, we drove through a firefight between some armed civilians and the LAPD. Just as we were discussing this, BANG! The rear window shattered. I was backing up SLOWLY into a parking spot in a poorly lit underground lot, and the back window touched what looked like an air duct. Apparently safety glass all breaks at once, and with the same enthusiasm as a gun going off.
Even so, it was a fun day. We went to a museum, had lunch at Umami, visited The Farmer’s Market and The Grove, saw the lights at LACMA, had Korean food for dinner, and gelato in Silverlake for dessert. The window incident was a source of comedy and proof of the unpredictable delights of backing into front-only parking spots (of course, you could only see the “head-in parking only” sign if you were already going in head-first. Fuck).
Dad and I went to the junkyard today to see if we could find a replacement rear window. No luck, and they wouldn’t let us bring my camera in (fuckers!), but we snapped a couple cool shots with a phone anyway. Take that, dirty commies! I’m surprised by how fun it was going to this junkyard. Those cars that were completely demolished were totally hypnotizing (see above picture). I’ll have to go back and sneak in a legitimate camera.
We ended up buying a replacement rear window at a nearby junk shop (just $55!), and replaced it ourselves in my folks’ driveway. And I finally remembered to drop off all that stuff at Goodwill! Dinner tonight was ramen, strawberry mochi, olives and sweet red wine while watching a three-hour block of Daria. Overall a really fun day.
Just made an appointment to test drive a Fiat 500 tomorrow afternoon after Office Job. They apparently have three models: Pop, Sport, and Lounge ($15,500, $17,500, and $19,500 respectively). The Pop is what I’m looking at because it’s cheaper, but they only have one automatic transmission Pop model at the location I’m doing my test drive. I might have to wait around, driving Dad’s old Exploder until more arrive. The guy said they sold three yesterday, “Boom! Gone!” but translated from car salesman speak, I’m guessing that means four test drives and one sale.
If this Fiat doesn’t work out… I’m going to regret selling my Pontiac. It would have been so much more economical to keep it that I’m still panicking about selling it. But when I mentioned that to my friends last night, they all sang out at the same time, “Nope! That car always had problems, you made a good choice!” Maybe they were right.
Cost of Pontiac: $9k
Cost of Pontiac with upkeep: probably around $11k
Sold for $2,200
So I end up $8,800 in the hole. I had it for three years. That’s about three thousand dollars a year. Yikes. Not a very good investment. I should have hung onto it.
BUT NO! I found the front right headlamp had fallen out of it’s place, and was dangling from it’s wires over the front fender once, for no reason! And every time it rained the light would go out and I would have to take it to the shop to get replaced! And Dad had to manually install a switch to turn off the security feature that caused it to stop recognizing my key, and occasionally not start! And the snap-crackle-popping noises coming out of the rear speaker were so bad, I had stopped listening to music at all! And only half of the speakers worked! And every time I looked at the dented fender, it made me feel bad about myself for being a bad driver while sick! And the fuel pump broke within the first year just like my first Pontiac (not cheap), but this time I was on the freeway… in the fast lane… on my way to Medieval Times for a friend’s birthday party, which I ended up missing RAAAAAGH I’m still angry/sad about it! And the doors were really heavy because the coupe was too long, and I was never able to find the the rear center seat belt, and the middle seat was rock hard anyway, and there was a small crack on the windshield from a tiny pebble hitting it on freeway on the way back from Pomona, and it was such a dark green that it was hard to see in the dark and was unsafe and was sweltering hot in the summer, and the AC wasn’t great, and neither was the heater, and the front right blinker hasn’t worked in forever, and Dad had to duct tape part of the door bumper on (before I took it to the shop and they forcibly screwed it back on), and the volume control on the stereo didn’t always work, and when Carmax sold it to me and I had my mechanic have a look at it, he pointed out (among several other problems) one part under the hood that was being held on with twine! The brakes sucked (they made a horrible, deep whining sound when I had jam down on them), the pickup sucked (there was a full 1-2 second delay from when I hit the gas, and the car would speed up). And it was about to hit 100k miles, which means its value would have plummeted if I hadn’t sold it when I did (it was at 99,964).
Things I liked about my dark green Pontiac Grand Am GT:
-red light-up display
-thick steering wheel
-enormous trunk space
-can’t think of anything else.
UPDATE: March 15, 8:56pm
Did the test drive. Loved it. The ride is pretty smooth, there’s plenty of room for two people with some small dogs in the back seat, and groceries in the boot. Look at that. I’m calling it a boot. Because it looks like it was snatched off the very streets of London. It looks so much like one of those black cabs they have, it’s uncanny. Larger on the outside that I thought, which I like (safer). Cramped for head and legroom for anyone taller than me in the back, but fine in the front, so I don’t care. Loads of standard features that are actually attractive. USB hookup, remote lock, etc. Good shit.