Girls on Cars #2: The $2,000 Car Challenge, Part Two


By: Opel Rickenbacker

It’s not that I don’t believe in warranties for cars. It’s that I don’t believe in extended warranties at all. For anything. They’re never worth the money you pay for them. I do not invest in things that are there simply to make me feel better. I do not require being made to feel better about spending my money for our corporate overlords.

As we were driving to the next car lot, I quoted the price I was willing to pay for a car: $2,000. Period. Bentley was shocked. Nova was intrigued. About $2,000 was what they were planning to put down. What if we all could get cars for that price, and see how long we could run them? Thus the $2,000 Car Challenge was born.

The rules were simple — buy a car for $2,000 or less, then keep track of the purchase price, money for repairs, and gas mileage. In six months we’d see who’d gotten the best deal…if any of the cars were still running at all.

Adopting The Challenge immediately changed our trajectory. Instead of heading for the Fieri dealership (Bentley had delusions of grandeur), we took a sharp left to the local Foss dealership. We ran into our first problem almost at once. Between us and the Foss dealership, sitting under an elm tree, was a 1969 Dorsey Dash. Someone had given it a silver paint job, added purple flames, and had planted a handwritten *for sale by owner* sign on it.

I was in love. A true and everlasting love. This was the big one. So even though I knew I couldn’t afford it, I made Bentley pull over.


Girls On Cars #1: The $2,000 Car Challenge, Part One

By: Nova Apperson

Is it possible to buy a reasonable car for $2,000 or less?

It depends on what you mean by reasonable.

Last week my brown 1994 Burns MidTown died. I was actually proud of myself. The Burns is the very first car I’ve managed to drive into the ground. I admit, being proud of gray smoke pouring from your engine is a little like being proud of catching a snake — you’ve accomplished something, but now what are you going to do with it?

Since a cracked engine block was a pricey repair, and since the MidTown is the very definition of Gas Guzzling Land Yacht, I decided it was time for something more fuel-efficient and less hand-me-down-from-the-parents. My roommate Opel was all for car shopping.  She’d been catching rides with me since her 1996 Sumato Pirouette had been stolen and left for dead a month before.

Our other roommate, Bentley, wanted to come car shopping too. While her 1990 Cadwallader Mesa Verde was in perfect working order, the Mesa Verde, like the MidTown, is a gas guzzler, and is, at times, difficult to park in city on-street parking.

So, Saturday morning, the three of us piled into the Mesa Verde, and went car shopping.

We started at the local Sumato dealership. Opel hoped to replace her Pirouette. Who can blame her? Since its introduction to the States in the late ’60’s, Sumato, and specifically the Pirouette, has developed one of the finest reputations in the car industry. Reliable, fuel efficient, and fun to drive, the Pirouette is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a compact. If only it could carry off an air of nonconformity as well — like a Leap, or a Nomad, two companies that have nurtured their image of rugged individualism, in spite of the fact that every third soccer mom owns one. If Sumato could do that, they’d probably have totally taken over the car market in the States ages ago.

Sadly, the Sumato Pirouette says cubical dweller, and we all know it.

Then there is the Sumato certification program. Is there a difference between a used Pirouette that has been certified by Sumato and one that has not? Yes. About $1000 to $1500 dollars on the sticker price. Is it worth it? Possibly. There are also warranty considerations, of course. Still, Opel prefers to save money, and take her chances. So we weren’t at the Sumato dealership long.