An Evening with Cars - Smart Cars and Old Cars

More by coincidence than based on planning this evening has mostly to do with cars, first with Smart Cars and then with Old Cars.
The Mercedes Dealership in Edison sent us an invitation for a preview and test drive event for the new Smart Cars that will be introduced to the US market next year. My wife likes cute little cars in general and I'm always interested in innovative car designs, two good reason to go there and check things out.
The Smart Cars are pretty hip in Europe and there people buy them as a fashion statement. Financially, they have only been a limited success for Mercedes. Although small, they are not actually that cheap to design and build. The security concept alone required a serious research and development effort. Combined with some other innovative design elements, e.g. the engine in the back, the sandwich design, these cars also became quite complex to manufacture. So when you are looking for an economical small car, the Smart is not for you: depending on what source you believe the basic model will start at between $12 and 14 k. Yes, you heard that right. You can get the Toyota Yaris or the Nissan Versa nicely equipped for the same or a few grand less.
So the Smart is really for people who can afford it as an additional car for driving short distances in the city or the suburbs, easy to maneuver and to park.
We test drove one and I was not at all impressed. The interior feels nice, but the car is very bouncy (despite the fact that the wheels are as far out in the four corners of the car as possible) and not comfortable, the automatic transmission has a serious lack of power for a short period when it shifts and the engine revs quite high when accelerating and is a bit obtrusive.
And with 40mpg the fuel economy is not that impressive, certainly not compared to a Prius which is a much larger car. And then even a conventional car with a Diesel engine gets pretty close to that.
Although the Smart is pretty cool and looks cute, I doubt that we will ever buy one.
From there we went to Cranford to the Vintage Car Show, a.k.a. Cranford Cruiser Night. I remember a few years ago they had vintage car shows in Westfield in the downtown area (Elm Street and Quimby). At one point that stopped and I really don't know why.
Seemingly quite successfully, Cranford has taken over that tradition. Two blocks of Union Avenue are closed for regular traffic and shiny vintage cars are lined up for the interested public to watch, inspect, photograph and admire, but certainly not to touch. Most proud owners are - understandably - quite peculiar about this. It is amazing how many of these cars are still around and in what good condition. Respect to all the folks that invest a significant amount of time, effort and money into keeping these cars in good condition for people to enjoy. I'm personally mostly fascinated by the tail fins that some of these cars had in 50s.
If you like to see vintage cars or just have a general interest in car design these vintage car shows are great fun. Unfortunately, this was the last one in Cranford for this year, but there is a website that lists all of them in NJ. I believe there is one more in Westfield on the parking lot south of the train station on 2007-09-10.
Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

No comments: