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The Test Drive That Shattered Your Dream

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
Have you ever had this experience? I sure have.

I get all excited over the hype, reviews, magazine articles, Internet "buzz" that I'm hearing about a new or near-new car.

Finally I work out a way to get a *real* test drive, where I can take my time and really work the car. (something more than around the block). Shoot, I might even think about buying the darn thing!

And then..........WHAT a disappointment!!

I'm shocked. I'm speechless. How can the reality be so different than the hype? It is ME?!!

I turn in the keys and I don't even WANT to start negotiating. I don't want the car at any price.

I'd like to hear your story. I'm interested to know what you were expecting, and why it was so different from what you experienced. I'll share mine as well a bit later on.

Do you think if you had heard NOTHING about the car, you would have been more forgiving?

Who or what do you blame for this dis-connect?

Did it take a while for the "truth" (subjective truth, of course) to sink in, or did you know right away that this was not the car for you?

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  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Seems that many of us have been disappointed by a convertible or sports car. My story is the same.

    I'm a big fan of Saturn - the family has had 5 of them, total - so I was particularly interested when the Saturn Sky was released. First time I saw one in the showroom, I had to sit in it.

    Yep, you guessed it - too tall (even though I'm just a fraction shy of 6'). I was looking directly into the windshield header. Plus, the steering wheel didn't adjust high enough, so everything between about 9:30 and 2:30 on both the speedo and tach were obscured.

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 18,656
    Back in the 90's I was interested in the Acura Integra Type R which seemed to promise keen handling and plenty of power but I found it a bit underwhelming during a test drive, it seemed only little faster and no more visceral than my wife's '85 Prelude (a very nice handling car in it's own right.) I found the brakes did not have the "don't worry you're gonna stop NOW" feel of my Saab's brakes.

    I was expecting an updated VW Rabbit GTI but it felt more like a Prelude Si hatchback....disappointing to say the least.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I think it took a while for Japanese cars to develop that "keen-ness" that we find in the German cars, if they ever really got it. This is why, apparently, Japanese cars are modified so enthusiastically and why the aftermarket is so strong for these cars.

    My "shattered dream" was when the Audi TT Coupe became available in the USA. Yeah, I know, these days it's a somewhat forgotten car, but back in 1996-1997 there was a LOT of buzz, and, to be fair, many styling cues of the TT are found in today's cars (the window "arc line" front to rear, the satin-finish knobs and switches, that "future-tech" interior trim---all comes from the TT).

    ANYWAY :) I took one for a test drive and while it was "okay" I was not prepared for the dead spot in the steering coming off neutral into left or right. I was expecting BMW level of precision here. Also I didn't find the car all that fun to drive, and the exhaust note was underwhelming.

    I wanted a sports coupe ala Porsche Cayman but what I was driving was a kind of mini-GT car. It was like a German Toyota Celica.

    I never drove another one again, or even looked at one. I'm sure owners like 'em, and they are just fine for what they do, but not for me, that's for sure.

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  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    Very sexy looking; Mercedes-based; Chrysler-prices. What's not to like?

    But on the testdrive, I couldn't fit in the car. Too tall to see out the windshield.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Wanted my girlfriend to consider a new Chrysler 300, but when she test drove it she said she couldn't see out of it due to the narrow windows and thick pillars.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    but the first time I sat in a 1973-77 era GM intermediate as an adult, it just didn't seem as roomy inside as I thought they'd be! About 7 years ago, a local park and sell lot had a '76 LeMans coupe for sale, and it looked good from a distance. Unfortunately, not so good up close. I just remembered sitting behind the wheel and thinking that it seemed no better inside than my '68 Dart...a car that was marketed as a compact!

    I think the biggest killer though was when I started it up and immediately thought...that doesn't sound like no V-8! Turns out it just had a Chevy 250-6 under the hood. I guess 0-60 in a car of that bulk would've been around 20 seconds? :sick:

    Anyway, it wasn't enough to turn me off to that type of car. A few years later, I found another '76 LeMans. It just happened to be in much better shape, had a 350-4bbl V-8 that fixed most of my acceleration worries, and has a power seat that can contort into almost obscene positions, so it gives me the legroom I need.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,917
    I had the same experience in a SLK55 AMG. Not long ago a local high end used car lot had one that looked like a good deal, I was bored and stopped to look at it. I was just too tall to fit properly, the top of the windshield was an issue and I had the seat all the way back too.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 10,209
    "...I couldn't fit in the car..."

    I too was intrigued by the Crossfire. Liked the looks. Like you I was worried about fitting into it (6'2" 225 pounds). Just managed to fit inside.

    The big turn-off was power. 215hp just didn't give it enough guts to make it worth the 30K plus they were orgionally going for. The SRT version was much better but so far out of my range I couldn't consider it.

    I was also turned-off by the cramped feeling of the Altima Coupe and the handling and power of the 6-cyl. Mustang.

    2015 Mustang GT, 2009 PT Cruiser, 2004 Chevy Van

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I'm actually disappointed with most modern convertibles. Between the high beltlines, thick roof pillars, windshield header right in your face, etc, I swear I get a more out-in-the-open feeling driving my old pickup truck!

    Even with the top down, it still feels like they're trying to cocoon you in, away from the outside world.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Windshield height vs. one's torso length is *very* important. Once your head gets into the windstream and your vision is blocked by the top bar, the driving experience in a convertible goes from enjoyable to annoying in a red hot minute.

    The old MGB was somewhat of an offender in this regard. It was impossibly to keep a baseball cap on! But the Alfa Romeos of 1981--1993 had no such issue. It was better thought out.

    I realize that designers want a low windshield profile and a nice rake angle, but not at the expense of too many potential buyers.

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  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Back when I traveled for business, I was lucky to be able to rent a convertible a few times - usually a Mustang (previous generation) and Sebring.

    Neither one would be considered real sporty, but I had no problems fitting into either one of them.

    A few years ago at the auto show, I sat in most of the current German roadsters - SLK, Z4, Boxster, TT. The only one I felt truly comfortable in was the BMW. The seat went back far enough and I wasn't looking over the windshield.

    Another car that was disappointing to me was the first-gen Pontiac Vibe. In some respects, it was a very nice car - good rear seat room. However, the driving experience was not that great. Granted, we drove an AWD version, which only comes with the automatic. Slow, slow, slow.

    Now, the new generation with the 2.4L engine might be a bit better.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    I'll second the TT. My wife had an Integra at the time. The Integra was faster, roomier, and far more fun to drive. The TT felt and drove like a mid-sized family car with an incredibly small passenger compartment.

    My classic car dream was ruined by an early '60s Vette with a base engine. It drove like a '60s Chevy truck that had been lowered to the ground.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    That's because a 60s Vette WAS a Chevy truck that was lowered to the ground--LOL!

    Can you imagine those big blocks with no power steering, and leaf springs to hop around on, and side pipes to roast your butt? Phew! Rough ride!

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  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    I have to admit that my old Sebring was a perfectly comfortable convertible. A bit of a slug and a perfectly average car with a great stereo but well though out in terms of having the top down.

    Of course I am short and it had the same problem as my Celica in that respect - if I lean my arm out my elbow has to come up almost to my shoulder!
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • wesleygwesleyg Posts: 164
    You sparked a memory there, In 1970 my best friend sold me his 1969 Vette convertible, dark bronze in color, sporting a 427, 4 speed etc. Since I had already owned two other big block Vettes, a 62 and a 65, I bought this sight unseen. Get out my way.

    Pick it up, it's mint, about 8000 miles on her. NO POWER STEERING. Now I'm a small guy, 155 lbs, and with tears in my eyes I sold it after two months, could not drive it. A 427 sitting between the front wheels steers like a cement truck overloaded.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    I bet it was really fun to go straight in that old beast. Probably sounded pretty good too.
  • wesleygwesleyg Posts: 164
    You could only go straight, no options to turn, but boy would it go straight. Also jump out of the drivers seat after driving it, if you hit the side pipes with your ankles, you could smell flesh burning.

    To this day, who in their right mind would order this without power steering, it was probably only a $65.00 option in that time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    If we presumed that in today's money the 69 would have cost 10X, or around $47,000, then the $105 p/s option would be about a $1,000 option today.

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  • wesleygwesleyg Posts: 164
    Well, putting it in that context, I can at least see the thought in someone's mind, but it would have been easier to drive with 3 tires rather than without the p/s option.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Many cars in the 60s were bought specifically to street race, so maybe that's what the owner had in mind.

    Road testing the "classic cars of our dreams" is often a shock, although occasionally one is pleasantly surprised. "It depends". But let's face it, 60s American muscle cars were crude things.

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  • What I loved about those old cars was that fast actually felt fast. My last American car was a 1970 Mustang Mach 1 with a 351 Cleveland engine. I loved working on it and spent every penny I made as a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps back in the late 80's to keep it faster than the new breed of muscle. That's about $175 a week :cry:

    As long as you didn't try to turn it would do a 13.5 second 1/4 mile. The front wheels would lift off the ground, the G force would drain the blood out of your head, and it was loud enough to drown out the screams of your passengers.

    Now that I make just a little more money I have gone in search of that same feeling. Test drives with today's cars that deliver that kind of performance just don't cut it. On a recent test drive of a Lexus IS 350, a car capable of that 13.5 second quarter mile, I noticed my wife was playing with the knobs on the stereo as I gave it all it got. Did time slow down over the years?
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    I sort of had that problem back in 1974 when I bought an Alfa Spider.
    I had been running around in a VW Beetle, and then a Honda Civic.
    I came into some money, and bought a Spider.

    It was a great car and it handled beautifully. However, it was sort of boring to drive in that, at speeds that were "Prepare to meet Jesus" in the VW, the Alfa was as smooth as a living room sofa.

    So, logically, in order to recreate the sensation I'd had in the Beetle and the Civic, I had to drive much, much, MUCH, faster.

    I'm sure you all understand. :shades:

    Gosh, I miss that car.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 22,094
    Like others, I also went to try out the Crossfire when it first came out. Unfortunately, I didn't even get to the actual test drive because I couldn't fit in the car well enough to drive it.

    That's a similar story to many vehicles for me. Boxster, S2000, TT, RX8. All ruled out for their lack of tall-person accomodations. The only one I actually drove of that group was the TT. In coupe form, I was close to fitting, so I gave it a spin. Wasn't until 10-15 minutes that I realized I couldn't live with it.

    TT wasn't really a "dream." But the others were.

    Lesseee... ummm... well, the only car that really comes to mind (at the moment) outside of the "fitting" problem is the A6 2.7T. I always drooled over this car. When I finally drove a used one, I was kind of disappointed. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It didn't live up to the "dream."

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,441
    I get all excited over the hype, reviews, magazine articles, Internet "buzz" that I'm hearing about a new or near-new car.

    First time I drove the Honda Ody back in '04 the "All thing Honda is Great" media blitz went down in flames. This turned out to be a plain looking minivan that did not stand out in any way above any of the other minivans. Ended up with a Mazda MPV which is a lot better van.

    Who or what do you blame for this dis-connect?

    I blame Edmunds. :P
    They built Honda Ody up to god like status like all the other web sties/mag rags.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    That'll teach you not to dream about minivans, I hope.
  • ajvdhajvdh Posts: 223
    We considered an Infiniti G20 when it first came out. On paper it looked good: Everyone raved about the handling and build quality, it got good gas mileage, the dealer experience was great, yada*3. Then we drove it: That the dealer practically threw the keys at us and said, "take it for the weekend," should have been a warning sign. The 4 banger was smooth for a 4 banger, but it was pretty gutless, even with the 5-speed. We wanted something with at least as much interior room as my fox chassis T-bird, and the G20 didn't quite qualify. Wound up with a Maxima, which gave up a little in handling, but it rode better, had far more guts and decent interior room. And it was cheaper.

    The EVO story, which happened to a friend, is even worse in that he wrote the check before having his dream shattered. He's a long time DSM (Diamond Star Motors - google if you need to) fan. The kind of guy who owned an AWD Eclipse that ran high 12s here in CO. So when it was announced that the EVO was coming to the US, he was about the first on on the waiting list. He put down his deposit and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally got the car, and at first it was everything he thought it would be. He took me for a ride, and I was impressed. There was one thing I found off-putting: At the time I owned an E36 M3 set up for track and auto-x, which translates to a suspension that would allow me to run over a quarter and tell whether it was heads or tails. Compared to the EVO, it was cushy. He wasn't too bothered, it was part of owning a hot car. His only objection was that the seats had too much lumbar.

    Then he and his wife went for a 3 hour drive in the mountains. When they got home, between the seats and the punishing ride, his back hurt so much his wife had to help him out of the car and drag him into the house. But he so loved the car, he spent weeks trying to figure out how to adapt it to him, or vice versa. He looked at replacing the seats with adjustable Recaros, but couldn't justify the eye-watering cost.

    So, he sold it. Naturally he'd owned it long enough that the initial feeding frenzy had abated, so he got normal used car money for it, instead of getting his money back as he might have done if he'd discovered the problem right off the bat.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,859
    maybe you should have put some ladder bars and better tires on your old stang. ;)
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    You know what would work for you? Get yourself one of the better quality AC Cobra kit cars. They are really fun "like in the old days".

    After driving a VW bug, you could put wheels on a rain barrel and feel like you upgraded :P

    EVO -- fabulous car, but it can beat you up. Same with the STi Subaru. These cars are fast, great handlers, real bargains but boy are they crude compared to an M3.

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  • oldcemoldcem Posts: 309
    Know what you mean - What's missing is all that low end torque the muscle cars had. I once had a 69 Olds 442 - 400/325 HP that was a blast to drive. Now I drive a 3 liter European car that's probably just as fast to 60, and, has about 30 MPH more top end than the Olds did. When you romp it - it feels like a gas turbine spooling up. You just don't get much sensation of accerleration, but, you glance down at the speedo and you're well over 100 mph.

  • My dream car for sooo long, especially because its so expensive and couldn't afford it... but then the time came when I could afford one, so I test drove a brand new 2002 Acura NSX in Pearl Yellow. So pretty! Sat in the car and my head hair was touching the top... so I removed the Targa top with the help of my friend. Then proceeded to drive... next thing i know I'm stepping on my own feet. Wide feet plus narrow wheel wells is not a good thing. So dream shattered. Fun car, good power, well handling... but i just don't fit! Maybe an automatic would work, but wheres the fun in that?! :sick:
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