Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Worst cars...

Bumped into this post at LA Times. Click on the box labeled 6 to get to the page "5. 2003 Saturn Ion". Now, i don't have an Ion, or anything as new as a 2003. But my 2000 Saturn SL has plastic fenders. And i love them. I have no idea what the LA times is talking about. Five years ago, the car was the recipient of a hit and run while parked. The left rear fender has, if you look real hard, a scuff mark, and a bit of green paint from the offending vehicle. There's no dent, because the plastic fender just bounced back. There's also no rust. Plastic doesn't do that. I've only recently discovered that the plastic isn't white all the way through. The plastic is, in fact, dark gray. It's painted, like any other car. But it's taken a very long time for enough of that paint to come off anywhere. And did i mention that it doesn't rust?

I love my Saturn. I kept careful track of gas mileage for several years. It was getting 43.7 MPG, overall. One 1,100 mile trip, the car got 49.5 MPG. Nothing special, a 1.9 liter 4 banger, with a 5 speed manual. Small engines rock on the highway. It has low mileage: only 307,000 miles. I see lots of younger cars with fewer miles blowing blue clouds out the back, but not my Saturn.

Maintenance has been low. I went through a series of brake rotors. But i bit the bullet and bought some good rotors, and the issue vanished. I also put some quality time and parts into the front end. So my front end alignment has held up on Michigan's crappy roads.

Click on the box labeled 8 to get to "3. 1987 Yugo". I had the '78 Dodge Omni. Four door hatchback. Small on the outside made it easy to park in downtown Boston. The hatchback made it huge on the inside. I wished the rear seats folded down flat, but it didn't matter much. I really wished it had a five speed manual, instead of a four speed. Or failing that, at least a highway gear. Lifetime fuel economy was a dismal 28 MPG. But i installed a cruise control, and it got 40 MPG on trips - at 50 MPH. Well, the national speed limit was 55. One of the very cool safety features was that in a level parking lot, i could push it backwards with one foot, and then pop start it in reverse. The engine always started. It got me where i needed to go. It was also oddly fun to drive. It was reliable right up to the end. At year eleven, everything broke except the engine. Door locks, the hatch latch, the hood latch, the electric fan for the radiator, the alternator, and so on. I gave it to a dealership. But the cost of ownership per year was low, and has only been improved on by my Saturn. I bet the Yugo had cost of ownership advantages over most vehicles.

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