Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Well, if you think so, Nice Price or Crack Pipe wants to know if a renegade roadster will make the grade.
Yesterday, the Citroën CX proved quite polarizing, ending up with either expressions of desire for its technological marvels, or frightened derision for the inevitable nightmare maintaining those marvels would entail. When the dust settled, the gallic gargantuan grabbed a close 60% nice price win. It would have been an even greater margin, but the French beauty's most ardent advocates were probably outside looking for snails to eat.
That Citroën proved that they do things differently across the pond, and if you need any further evidence of that, just skip on over to your friendly neighborhood Smart Car dealer. There you'll find a two-seat, rear-engined, phone booth masquerading as a car. With an engine smaller than most disco bikes', and tires the size of Krispy Kremes, the Smart Fortwo is about as sporty as Heidi Montag is talented. Of course, like Heidi, the Fortwo does have disproportionately large headlights. Modestly successful in the tight confines of Europe's major cities, the Smart has not sold in significant numbers here in the States, where H2s try and dry hump them at traffic lights.
That may not have been the case had today's candidate still been in production when Smart thought it smart to tackle the U.S.. One of 43,000 built between 2003 and 2005, this '04 Smart Roadster has put down most all of its nearly 39,000 miles on foreign soil as it's not currently licensed for road use under the stars and stripes.
The Roadster is powered (and I'm using that term loosely here) by a turbocharged 698-cc all-aluminum triple that farts out about 80 horsepower. That Mercedes-designed motor is able to move the two-seater to sixty in a tick over eleven seconds. That's not too bad, and owes to the roadster competing in the featherweight class at only 1850-lbs. Hindering acceleration is the sequential 6-speed auto-manual, the shifts of which could be timed using glacial ablation. Flappy paddles don't help make it any better, and while top end is limited to 109-mph you'll be thankful once you're there after six rounds of paddle . . wait, did it do any-CLUNK- oh there it is shifting.
You might not get all hot and bothered by this little Smart's drag strip performance, but it handles like a go-kart, and that fabric roof slides back to let in the sun and, if you live in a major urban area, the jingling cups of the homeless. You won't need to tip those cups for gas money very often in the Smart because one benefit of its zero dress size is relatively frugal fuel consumption, which runs in the 30s and 40s.
It's very difficult to say just how many Smart Roadsters, and their sister Coupes, are in the U.S. these days, and it's equally difficult to ascertain the cost of certifying this car should you want to actually drive it on the street. Of course, now that Smarts are sold here, finding a VIN plate off a wrecked Fortwo and sticking it on this beauty is a possibility - I'm just sayin'.
Another possibility is that you wouldn't pay $18,000 for this quirky little coupe. Of course, for that kind of cheddar, Craigslist is overflowing with Miatas that won't give you licensing headaches; won't cause you to have conniptions should they breakdown; and will provide better performance while only sucking down a few more gallons of gas. Yeah, you could do that, it would be the safe thing to do.
You could also buy all of your clothes at K-Mart, hell, it's cheap and wrinkle-free Dockers are the same everywhere, so eff-it. You could eat chicken every night of the week, because nothing offers you more bang for your buck. Plus, red meat might give you ass-cancer or something. You could even ask out that girl at the library- the one with the kind of bug eyes and a mole with a hair in it. Nobody else seems to want to take her out, and less competition is good, right? Why risk getting your heart broken?
Eventually, you'll look around and realize that you're average. You're mainstream. Hell, you probably have 2.3 children and your 6-months pregnant wife still has that stupid mole, only now it's like twice as big. And her eyes are sticking out even farther now- what the hell is that, hyperthyroid or something? It's creepy and it's all you can do to not try and push them back in with your thumbs. And every time people tell you that your kids have her eyes, you pee yourself a little bit.
Even your Miata, with its snick-snick shifter, buttoned up handling and no problem sir, we can fix that and have it back to you today repairs doesn't excite you anymore. You suddenly realize that the K-Mart clothes don't seem fit you very well either, the too-long shoulders make you look like a hunch-back, and, to your horror, you discover that your Dockers have elastic in the waist! How long has that been going on? Eventually you die of something mundane like old-age or boredom, and nobody laughs or shares any fond memories of you at your funeral. Your life has been one long series of safe choices, and when it ends the only thing the guy up there giving the eulogy can think to say about you is that you really seemed to like eating chicken.
Don't have that eulogy.
Strip off the Dockers. Go order a big-ass steak and eat it with your hands. Tell Marion the Librarian that it's been nice, she's a sweet girl and all, but that you're trouble, and you don't want to see her get hurt, so she needs to forget she ever met you. Give her the number of that guy in the Miata club that wears the really think glasses and then send her packing. Grow a soul patch. Then, go get a tattoo - an eagle, or a rabid panther - and hit on the goth chick that's inking you. Ask her where you can buy "pleather" and then get some fresh threads.
Finally, go out and buy this Smart Roadster, figure out how to get it registered, or at least for the Po-Po to leave you alone. Live on the edge. Die young and leave a good looking corpse. When they go to bury you, not only will stories be told, but copious quantities of alcohol will be drunk, and later, friends will steal your body and will give you a viking funeral by floating your flaming carcass out on a surfboard and into the sunset.
So, what'll it be- a 2004 Smart Roadster for $18,000? Or, the safe choice and a lifetime of chicken dinners and wrinkle free Dockers?