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

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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.

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