My first couple of cars were compacts. Out of college, I bought an '83 escort with power nothing, AM radio and a 4 speed squirrel-fed 1.6 liter engine. It was as weak as it sounds, but at the time was all I needed. I'd like to say it served me well for the 5 years or so I had it, but it really didn't. Back then the American car market wasn't what it is today, so it seemed it was forever failing me in one way or another. When she started blowing white smoke, usually a sign that your head gasket is gone, I knew it was time to upgrade to my dream car.
A 1989 Honda civic hatchback.
Dream car, you say? Yep, I always wanted a Honda, so I got one. It was much more reliable than my escort. I loved the civic. I only got rid of it because we had our first child, and suddenly a two door hatchback seemed about as inconvenient as it was.
So recently we purchased a Kia Rio with the intention of selling it to Sarah after she uses it up north for her internship this summer. It is another small compact and I guess I have driven vans and SUV's for quite a while, because driving this is a TRIP!
For starters, you feel every bump and crack in the road. Part of this is because you are literally sitting about 8 inches from the pavement.
Plus, you feel every MPH as you work up to the speed limit. If you treat the squirrels nicely, you can get up to 60 by the end of the merge ramp. 70 and 75 MPH require emptying your pockets and a nice tailwind, not to mention holding on to the wheel for dear life.
Add to all of this the plebeian manual locks which makes for a circus-like exercise anytime you're getting groceries or packing the car.
Did I mention it has no cruise control? Oh yeah. It's a lot like my Escort that way. At least it has A/C which my escort did not.
At the same time the car is a perfect first car for a college student like Sarah.
- You can fill the tank for $18.00 and make it to northern Mexico on that tank.
- You can park the thing anywhere. Heck, you could probably park two in one spot if you tried hard enough.
- It turns on a dime. You can scoot through intersections effortlessly and turn a u-banger without even leaving your lane practically.
- It has only 38,000 miles on it, so it'll go a while.
As I packed it last night for her internship, I was doubting I'd have enough room, It surprised me again with how much it could hold. It reminds me of our post-wedding trip home from New York in Donna's Chevette. Packed to the gills, and happy to be on the road.
That'll be us today in our Rio.