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The Ultimate Driving Machine

By Gloria Diaz

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Fort Wayne Reader


Labor Day weekend, someone offered to buy one of my cars. Let me explain. Iím not some female Jay Leno with a warehouse full of vintage vehicles needing to unload one so she can make the payment on the vacation condo in the Cayman Islands. The only reason why I have two cars is that my mother, brother and I were in general agreement that when my mom passed on, Iíd get her 1997 Dodge Neon. The Neon is actually a sporty looking little car (well, as sporty as a car with four doors can hope to be) but itís probably safe to say that no one has it on his list as a fantasy car. Itís a nice little car, and I jokingly refer to it as the ďtouring sedan.Ē

The car that had the guy who lives down the street from me knocking on my door was my 1994 Geo Metro, which is NO ONEíS idea of the ďultimate driving machine.Ē Then again, maybe these days, it is. Despite its slightly beat-up appearance, cluttered interior and wear and tear (it passed the 100,000 mile mark a long time ago and survived a head-on collision with a guardrail) it does what no other car on the road (unless itís a hybrid) can: it gets 46 miles to the gallon in the city, 49 on the highway. Unless you shell out for a hybrid, you wonít get better mileage than this.

Bear in mind, I hadnít advertised my car for sale, nor did a stick a ďfor saleĒ sign in the window. I actually hadnít driven it much lately, because it needed some exhaust work done. But the day I saw gasoline hit $3.19 a gallon, I thought Iíd better get the car fixed. Because I have such a fuel-efficient vehicle, I hadnít given much thought to gas prices. The day it went up to $3.19, I was amazed in sort of a wondrous way. ďWow, itís that high! Amazing!Ē Everyone else, of course, was cursing OPEC, Hurricane Katrina and whoever else they could for the high gas prices.

I donít have any interests in oil, but I couldnít care less if gas went to $5 a gallon. I would feel sorry for those who have to use their vehicles in their jobs, and not just to get back and forth to work. Been there, done that. However, to those who feel eight-cylinder engines and the SUV are gifts from God, I would say, ďtough.Ē Just because you are an American doesnít mean you deserve cheap gasoline. True, the U.S. probably consumes the most gasoline of all the countries in the world, and since weíre buying so much of it, it makes sense to get a price break, since we are buying in bulk. However, if you bought
an SUV after gas hit $1.50 a gallon, you get no sympathy from me. I understand if you weigh 300 pounds, a compact car is probably not right for you. But, I think most SUV owners (at least the ones around here) donít buy them because they live in rugged, remote places. Most of them are suburb-dwellers, who arenít hauling anything more than their kidís Little League team, or the weekly groceries. For them, itís about status and intimidation.

And right now, they are paying for it. Sure, they blast past me on the highway, because three-cylinder cars arenít meant for pick up and power. But Iíll be the one laughing at the gas station, because Iíll still have enough money left to pay my bills and eat after filling up at the pump.

But if all those SUV owners are still fuming (pun intended) from what Iíve written, take heart. If worst comes to worst, you can sell your house for gas money, and take up residence in your mega-mobile. You owe it to OPEC to keep them in business. Lord knows theyíre not making much from me.


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