MAX Update No. 31: A Cheap Lesson

Reader Contribution by Staff
article image

This is Tom and his Geo Metro. Tom is holding the Metro’s crumpled left fender. The front bumper got so bent up that Tom had to take it off to drive the car here to the shop.

Tom works summers at Kinetic Vehicles. I’ve known him since he was an auto shop student at the local high school, where he graduated this June. He spent last week getting a beater of a Geo Metro running and legal, got his driver’s license on Friday, and Monday he …

I’ll let you guess what happened. Here’s a clue: He lives on Deer Creek Road.

As you can see, Tom is fine, but the deer he hit is currently scampering around in deer paradise, telling the other deer spirits, “Honestly, they should have named it Car Creek Road, they’re just everywhere out there.”

All I can say is, I’m glad Tom wasn’t driving MAX.

MAX is on the inactive list for a few days while — by amazing coincidence — we work out mounting an auxiliary roll bar behind its windshield (see Update No. 30). I wasn’t expecting to be able to say, “See, I told you so!” so soon, but there you have it.

Combine this lesson with the one I learned a year ago (see Update No. 4: Crash Test Dummy), when shiny new MAX got rear-ended before its paint was even dry, and I’m now convinced there’s no “grace period” or “honeymoon” where driving is concerned. The risk is there every time you turn the key, starting with the first time.

Tom plans to build himself a MAX-like sports car next summer, but you know, the car he has now is a perfect first car, particularly for a young man in college. His Metro gets good gas mileage and his school is a 50-mile round trip from home — it should take him little more than a gallon to get there and back.

His car isn’t a hot rod, so he’s not going to get lured into what the police of my youth referred to as an “exhibition of speed.”

And best of all, his car is totally bereft of any class, style or status. If he can make it a year being green instead of green with envy, maybe he’ll miss out on the urge to define himself by the car he drives, the urge that got our culture into this gas guzzling mess to begin with.

Photo by Jack McCornack

Browse previous MAX Updates.
Read the introductory MAX article, Here Comes the 100-mpg Car.
Visit the Kinetic Vehicles website for more technical details on MAX.