NPF: ED DRIVES TINY CAR, HILARITY ENSUES

Posted in No Politics Friday on December 18th, 2009 by Ed

Early Thursday morning I flew back to my beloved Indiana in preparation for the graduation ceremony on Saturday morning. Not wanting to be a burden to friends and family the entire time I am in Bloomington, Chicago, and points inbetween I rented a car.

Upon confirming my reservation for a "compact" with the esteemed gentleman from Alamo, he proceeded to solicit additional money from me with promises of a larger vehicle in return. "Kind sir," I replied, "try not your snake-oil salesman's tactics and cheap conjurer's tricks on me! I wish only for the mode of conveyance stated, and at the price agreed upon!" Since I normally drive a 10 year old Nissan Sentra the idea of needing a larger vechile for just a few days seemed silly. Chastened, the would-be huckster directed me to a row of identical Chevrolet Aveos.

I hesitated.

"Perchance I have been too rash, honored salesman," said I, trembling in awe at the sheer shittiness of the alleged automobiles before me. But my inner Polack won in the end and rather than shelling out an additional $50 for the 10-day rental I figured, how bad can this Korean chariot (via the Kingdom of Detroit) be?

I learned an important lesson today. Do not ask questions if you are not prepared for the answer.

Now, if nothing else about this scenario amuses you, just enjoy the physical comedy of someone who is 6'4" and essentially all limb tucking his knees to his chin in this:

The effect is not unlike seeing the Yeti seated on a roller skate.

Upon first entering the vehicle one recoils and asks, "Can there be any gray plastic left in the world after GM is done making Aveo interiors?" The entire world must suffer shortages of molded Chinese gray plastic every time GM/Daewoo fires up the production lines for another exercise in futility. "Oh well, I am not interested in its beauty; it need only convey me from kingdom to kingdom for a few days."

Having been happily off the GM wagon for many years, a lifetime of corner-cutting manufacturing techniques nonetheless came flooding back to me the instant I attempted to accelerate. Getting to highway speed is a leisurely, contemplative process, and the vehicle no doubt possesses the loudest engine I have ever heard that is less than 8 cylinders, not powering a lawn mower or air compressor, and not attached to the wing of an airplane. But since said engine is so tiny, the tone is ear-splitting but pathetic, like an enormous dragon with emphysema trying to roar. I can best compare it to driving an oversized Dustbuster, or perhaps a cross between Fran Drescher and Soundwave.

The ancient four-speed transmission reminded me of why GM has not moved to equip all of its vehicles with five-speeds like other manufacturers. Indeed, why attempt the five-speed before having mastered four? After a quick inspection to see if the transmission was filled with grape Smuckers, I ascertained that the curious performance quirks I experienced are inherent to the design.

Last but not least I was reminded of my favorite memory of years of driving Pontiacs. I like to call it the "GM shakes," the terrifying sense that the vehicle is about to disintegrate into 1000 pieces as you approach 70 mph. I suppose 70 mph is pretty fast, although not unreasonable. In a GM car, however, 70 mph sounds and feels like one is in the cockpit of the Apollo capsule atop a Saturn V rocket – just as the boosters kick in. In the Aveo, 70 mph inspired me to make sure that my will is up to date. The combination of plastic bodywork, cheap tires, and brittle third-world steel frame may appeal to younger buyers, though, because it always feels like you're going really fast in an Aveo. Even at 35 mph the cacophony of tire, wind, and engine noise sounds like an alcohol-fueled rocket car blasting across the Bonneville salt flats en route to the land speed record.

Upon arrival at my destination I immediately called the director of marketing at GM and proposed two slogans: "Aveo: American Trabant" and "The New Chevy Aveo: isn't it marginally better than walking?" Both struck him as genius. I was paid a handsome six-figure sum, part of which I used to purchase this Aveo from Alamo and have it compacted into a tiny cube, which I then set on fire.