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So I bought a Mercedes.


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Last time I came around here, I was driving a 2005 Grand Prix. 

 

In Oct 2011, I got a new job which forced me to relocate.  I moved from Central New York to my new job site in Maryland, while -- due to an unfortunate technicality -- my wife and children stayed behind.  Since I would need a car of my own to get around, my parents and sister were gracious enough to let me "borrow" her 1997 Saturn SL to get around in. 

 

I found out in Nov/Dec 2011 that we were expecting a third child.  The wife and I agreed that the back seat of the GP wasn't big enough for 3 car seats, so in March 2012 we traded the car for a minivan -- a 2009 Volkswagen Routan.  I still have to update my signature.

 

My nuclear family, now +1, rejoined me in August 2012, since the conditions of the technicality had expired.

 

I should probably add to the mix that between 3 kids, almost 10k in credit card debt, a car loan (Routan, rolled over from Grand Prix, rolled over from 2006 Cobalt), 2 student loans, and 2 mortgages, we were in dire financial straits.

 

After "borrowing" my sister's car for over 3 years, pressure was building somewhat to legitmize the Saturn and transfer it to my name.  So I took a break from paying off debt to scrape together cash for the task.  After she signed it over to me as a gift, and after a rigorous Maryland State vehicle safety inspection (for those unfamiliar, it's a very thorough one-time inspection done upon transfer of the vehicle to a new owner), I took ownership of the Saturn in February 2015.

 

Then on April 30, it was rear-ended by an Escalade.  I was unhurt.  The Saturn, however, suffered frame damage, and was declared a total loss.  It was a good car -- at just over 160,000 miles, it was still getting me to work and back -- but I couldn't justify salvaging it.  May its parts be put to good use.

 

I was somewhat content to drive the Routan to work until I could save enough money for a good replacement car, but this would have left the wife stranded in case she needed the car for an appointment or emergency.  I considered alternative methods of transportation, but this too would leave her stranded in terms of more time away from home.  She didn't want me to seek out private sales due to her family's awful experience with them.  For her sake, I honored her suggestion to buy a car from Carmax.

 

 

 

So I bought a Mercedes.

 

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I wanted to buy the smallest and cheapest car I could find.  I ended up taking this to its logical conclusion and left the dealership this week with a 2009 smart Fortwo Passion, at about $6700 after tax, title, and registration.

 

I did my fair share of research on the car to make sure I knew what I was getting in to.  I was not prepared at first for the lurching granny shifting and the scary brake pedal action, but I got over the brake pedal rather easily.  I'm still getting used to the transmission, and have come to understand why it behaves the way it does.

 

Speaking as a guy who once aspired to own a Pontiac Solstice, I gotta say, I really like this car.

 

<rant>

It represents a really nagging philosophical itch I've always wanted to scratch.  The roads are congested, every day, with SUVs and large passenger vehicles containing only a driver commuting to and from work.  When I visited the Smart USA mobile site and saw a section saying that "288,675,000 empty seats commute daily", I just about shed a tear.

 

People have expressed concern about safety.  Yes, I know; physics do not bode well in the Smart's favor.  But I will not be one of those people who says "I need a bigger car so my family and I can be safer.  I'm buying an SUV!"*  Also, it's safer than a motorcycle.

 

* Honestly, after fitting 3 booster seats into the back of a 2014 Impala rental, my wife and I have entertained the thought of replacing our Routan with a large sedan down the line.

</rant>

 

But, yeah.  It's actually a fun little car, and during this honeymoon phase, I look forward to my daily commute.

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Long time no see!  I hope things are going well down there under your new governor.  The dealership where I work just took a black Smart in trade, with two stickers on the back "MAINE", with a moose on it, and "COEXIST".  I wonder what they replaced it with.  Good luck with yours, and keep us up to speed on your ownership experience!

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I had seen the IIHS Smart vs C-Class test but not this. Thanks.

Something else that helped me feel a bit better about safety was someone that compiled statistics showing the car has fewer fatalities per mile than whatever the average is. I'd link that info here except I'm on mobile right now. Maybe later.

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Nice to see old faces show up here once in a while.  Congrats on the new non-mainstream car purchase.  I've never driven a smart, but I know they are not the fastest things around.  I do like the concept a lot, and the electric version intrigues me.

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Smart cars are fine for local driving and inner city commuting, but longer suburban to city commuting I would get something safer. While the car shows the over all cage stays in tack, there is plenty of evidence that shows the cage survives but the human body cannot. 60 mph and you will still have serious injuries in that car.

 

To me human life is worth more than the MPG of a car like the Smart cars and all overs that are this small. 

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Well, I am in a city of some of the worst drivers in America...

That said, there's really only one corridor of my commute that I consider high risk, and it's a half mile stretch of US 1 with a 40 mph speed limit and tight lanes divided by a simple double yellow line.

I figure that could result in a net 90 mph offset crash. The rest are either low speed 2 lane roads, well spaced out, or well divided, so I can expect most collision scenarios would be same direction.

Maybe I'm expressing a great deal of hubris to justify my purchase, but I'm of the opinion that people should only drive as much car as they need.

Also, one of my former cars was a Chevy Venture. I'd consider this a step in the right direction from that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I got a chance to drive a couple Smarts when i was selling.  There is an interesting appeal to them.

 

In your case, it was a Smart purchase.  Congrats, and i have noticed there are really good deals on lightly used ones.

 

For the right situation, a great buy.  Congrats.  I'd like to see a Smart car with a Ford 3 cylinder Ecoboost engine in it.

 

Sidebar, a dealer here had a brand new 2014 Spark LS manual advertised for 8995 recently and it must have sold.  That would have been a great buy also......although I would want an auto on a car that small like the smart.

Edited by regfootball
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