QotW: What’s your best story involving a small car?

Small cars are going the way of the dodo. Toyota has killed the Yaris, Honda has killed the Fit, and Mazda has killed the 2. Only in the US market, of course; all those cars are alive and well in other markets. Still, it’s sad that its getting increasingly harder for those who want (or need) affordable, reliable transportation to get it. Cramming all your friends or worldly possessions into a cheap, tiny car is practically a rite of passage. As is squeezing herculean feats out of a car that just shouldn’t be able to do that, or getting butterflies in your gut when you introduce a date to your econobox for the first time. These are things RAV4 drivers with power everything will never know the joys of.

What’s your best story involving a small car?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your fondest Pajero/Montero memory?

When we posed the question last week, we never expected to get such a wide range of answers from all corners of the globe. If anything, it proved that the Pajero/Montero was even more beloved than we knew.

Lupus learned the wonders of the Pajero as a chick magnet Poland. Ken remembered how one served as the final resting place of a notorious criminal in the Netherlands. harshith taught us that they’re the vehicle of choice for celebs, heads of state, and police in India. Negishi no Keibajo used one to tour Iceland, Nigel got stuck with one because it was “snow” mode in a place where there definitely was no snow, Dubai. Danny bought one in Montana and promptly drove it 2,000 miles home. And Tian in Costa Rica had a touching personal memory of his grandfather associated with his Montero. Damn, now we’re really sad that it’s going away. With such great stories it was hard to pick a winner, but Tom (who we think is Australian) wins by a hair for his story of a Pajero that feared none other, from Vitz to Land Rover.

A 2nd gen JDM LWB Pajero was my childhood car (alongside a LWB RAV4 and a Mirage hatch), and the first car I ever drove, which was great cause whenever I drove into a tree stump by accident it would just go over the thing.
Not one day after buying it we got rear ended at about 40kph by a Vitz, which now had a front bumper kissing the firewall, while the Pajero needed a single rear bumper light replacing.

The Pajeros greatest trip was when our local Scout troop (of which my Mum was head leader) were going on a week long camping trip in the mountains, and it was decided to use three leaders cars rather than renting out a coach, as the kids were pretty much all family friends anyway. This consists of:
– our Pajero, a LWB 2.8 intercooled turbodiesel.
– A D22 (iirc) Nissan Navara twin cab.
– A brand new LWB Land Rover Defender, imported at great expense.

Needless to say the three cars were an unstoppable convoy, hauling 15 kids, food, climbing gear, and associated adults up and down mountain roads, on one day a 2km in altitude descent to the seaside and 2k climb up to the mountains for dinner, without skipping a beat.
For the Pajero, the highlight of the trip was this little hairpin corner we had to frequently drive around: When in our three car convoy, the Pajero showed up the infallible Defender, who’s wide turning circle meant it couldn’t get around the corner without doing a three point turn!

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10 Responses to QotW: What’s your best story involving a small car?

  1. Lupus says:

    A bit o bitter-sweet story:
    When i went to collage i needed something economic for transportation. Since i’ve owned my 2nd Daihatsu Applause already that i wanted to preserve i’ve decided to find a Daihatsu Charade G101. A 3rd gen. with 1.0L 3-pot diesel under the hood. And quickly i’ve found one dirt cheap about 140 km from home. I’ve jumped to a bus and went to buy it. I was still not wise enough in terms of cars state. After i brought the car home i realized that it had literally no doorsteps, nor trunk floor. These elements where “made” from duct-tape and rubber carpets coverd with some sort of resin. I gave the car to a body shop – the work cost me more then what i gave for the car itself. After that i’ve lived with that machine for over 2 years. It was really extremly fuel efficient. It burned about 4 liters of anything (diesel fuel, heating oil, burned fries oil, whatever) per 100km (about 58mpg). But it was a hassle to drive it – the 3 cyl. engine vibrated so, that my eyeballs went into resonance. When i stepped out of the car after 60 km drive i’ve felt like on high or very sick. The vibrations where tremendous. After these two years i’ve bought a G100 Charade – also 1.0 litre 3-pot, but this time petrol-fuel’d per carb, and in far better overall shape. I gave the diesel to my uncle, who used it for next half a year. He drove mostly on unpaved roads with no remorse for the car, witch ended in huge crack in the floor, under rear passangers feet. I scrapped the car. But it’s not the end of the story. Owner of the local paintball range bought the body of that car and placed it on the field as part of decoration. When somone hit me in the rear of my petrol Charade, i’ve sourced the rear deck from that body. And it’s tiny diesel was bought by father of one nice girl i knew. He uses it till now to power his tresher.

  2. CycoPablo says:

    A time before the internet and digital cameras — 1993.

    Only three other people know this happened, along with other traffic on the highway who may have seen it. Eyre Highway, 42km west of Nullabor (Shell) roadhouse.

    As I don’t have pics or vids, and my passenger and I broke up two years later, and the other two guys were strangers, I’ll just write this…

    1x 1988 CRX 16V (128hp) packed to the gills, two-up with our dog.
    1x FJ40 Land Cruiser, broken down with suspected distributor failure (so he said), two-up with their dog.
    1x tow rope.

  3. Bob says:

    All of them. Whether it was fashioning a throttle link from a hairpin for a 79 Celica GT Liftback, a car that also had no heat and shocks and struts that were so far gone, it wallowed around corners like an oil tanker.
    Or going camping in a 69 Opel GT, getting it stuck and tearing off the front bumper getting it out.
    Or parking an 81 Mazda GLC wagon on hills so I could bump start it myself.
    Or fashioning floor pans from street signs for a Pinto. I became fairly talented with the almighty pop rivet.
    Or a 1980 Chevy Luv who’s exhaust was more soup can and patch than exhaust pipe.
    I hated all of it. Come to think of it, I still hate it.

  4. Lee L says:

    For me it has to be my Yaris. I bought it new in 2008 and used it like a miniature van or pickup truck. Back then I was in a band, the rest of the members living 8+ hours away and I would travel from Virginia to Tennessee once a month to rehearse and usually play a show.

    I would always have my yaris loaded down with a full 8×10 bass cabinet, bass head, at least 2 basses in hard cases, a few bags of gear, back of clothes for the weekend, usually a cooler or some type of food and I always had extra space.

    The best memory was driving from Virginia to Southern Ohio to play a big underground metal festival, cruising through PA loaded down getting 45+ on the highway with the windows down blasting death metal.

  5. F31roger says:

    I have a few stories with small cars! Even though I don’t own one, i always loved small cars.

    In 2000, my friend in Japan and I were exchanging magazines. While he sent me mostly Young Version, Option and Option2, VIP and Drift tengoku once in awhile he would slip me something different.

    It is either K-car or K-style… But I remember I loved looking at all the Kei vehicles and owner profiles.

    When I visited Japan in 2001 and 2002, I was able to meet people with Honda S-MX, Honda Beat, Suzuki Wagon Rs and Honda Life.



    I loved Kei vehicles any time I came upon one outside of the JDM kei craze, I took pictures of it.

    2009 – I was in the UK and Ireland and I would see some of these small cars.
    At the Cliffs of Moher, I saw a Toyota IQ. I believe it was before the US release, but I thought it was super cool.

    I don’t even know the name of the car, but this was by Piccadilly Square.

    2016 – While at a Nissan Leopard meeting in Hamanako Garden park, just across the field was a Suzuki Cappuchino meeting.

    I started to talk to some of the owners and they were super friendly.

  6. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Unfortunately, it’s a cost vs benefits game. With the plethora of used cars, most would rather spend $12,000 on a used Corolla, than $12,000 on a smaller, more spartan Yaris.
    On the other hand, here in SoCal at least, I see quite a fewitsubishi Mirages, so at least ONE small car is doing fine.

  7. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    I left Japan in 1973 so I was really excited to return for the first time in 1984. On the way to visit my grandparents outside Tokyo, I spotted a Toyota MR-2 before it came to the states. Oh the ’80’s!

  8. Angelo says:

    Well, this happened a few days into January of 2019. It was my great-Grandpa’s 103rd birthday, and someone had to drive him to the venue.

    Initially, he had his Isuzu AUV as his ride, but it had been borrowed. They had me, and the old Sentra, and I had my doubts at first as I had lowered the car a bit and it’s noisy.

    But, you know, after all that, an uncle of mine who was with us in the car jokingly asked him if I passed.

    And he said yes, with his complementary nod.

  9. Tofu Delivery says:

    the time i became undisputed king of touge battles by simply by driving my dad’s tofu delivery car since i was 13.

  10. MKIII_jr says:

    Owning my MK3 Jetta TDI has been an experience the whole way through. I learned to drive a stick in this car, I almost got into a serious accident in this car, and learned to respect the limits of traction and tires, I realized that we don’t need much space, at least in the short term, and I plan to turn it into a car camper. Mind you, it’s not a wagon. It’s a sedan. If there is a will, there is a way. For me thinking about doing a similar thing with my 240Z.
    I learned that you don’t need crazy amounts of horsepower to have fun. 90 is good enough some days. As long as you have Torque. If you don’t have torque, get a turbo. I learned that 40mpg is better than being the fastest. I also learned that being smaller and nimbler is better than sailing a road barge of steel and springs.
    Asll in all, Small cars rock. It would be a shame to not have them as an option

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