Then I went car shopping in 2007. Due to the occasional snow up here, I was looking for a four-wheel-drive, small SUV that handled well and wasn’t too expensive. So I test-drove some Jeep models, which handled like golf carts on a rainy course. The Toyota was too expensive for me, and the Pontiac seemed cheap and clunky. Suburus were nerdy and didn’t hold the road well.
I went to a Hyundai dealership after work, on a whim, to look at the Santa Fe. The salesmen were busy, so I walked around the Santa Fe models–bigger than I expected–and mused about whether this was really me. A flash of yellow caught my eye. There on the showroom floor was a yellow 2006 Hyundai Tiburon. Tiny, cheeky, with Michelin tires and a six-cylinder engine, it was a toy sports car. And it was marked way down.
What could it hurt to test drive it? Ha. I was a goner. I drove a hard bargain and took it home that night, kissing goodbye my dear old Toyota.
Since then I’ve learned that having a yellow car makes you vulnerable to shameless remarks–“is that a taxi?”–and makes it impossible to fade into the crowd. The dry cleaner guy knows my car. The neighborhood kids know my car. When I first got it, my colleagues wanted to drive it around the corporate parking lot.
It’s not fun to drive in snow, and it has to be dug out when there is more than two inches on the ground. I dented it on a rock in a driveway in the Adirondacks, and I’ve scraped it innumerable times on concrete bumpers and sidewalks. The gas mileage is not that great with such a big engine in a small body. And I can’t be anonymous when I’m driving it.
But, you know what? It’s fun. It makes me smile. Having a Hyundai as my middle-age-crazy car is a little embarrassing. But if that’s the worst thing I do, it’s not so bad.