Econobox

George Will wrote:

Your next car can cost less if you forgo GPS, satellite radio, antilock brakes, power steering, power windows and air conditioning. You can shop for such a car at your local Studebaker, Hudson, Nash, Packard and DeSoto dealers.

Those were the days, indeed. There’s a reason those brands aren’t available, and they have to do with those pesky market forces that a certain new administration believes can be negated and controlled from Washington.

Good luck, there. But those who live in the world of the real, and wish to pay less for an actual new car today, still have the option of stripped-down econoboxes such as the Hyundai Accent CS and Nissan Versa Sedan 1.6, both of which were somewhat mockingly reviewed in the June Motor Trend.

Both vehicles can be yours on the road for just around $11,000. Neither car has A/C, power anything, nor even a radio. As I said, they are stripped-down econoboxes. But they will get you from A to B. With much more reliability than, say, a Nash.

My first car was a 1949 Nash that I hauled from my uncle’s pond and got running. Great car for a student, me, at the time (1962). Virtually indestructible, tons of room in the back, bumpers of steel that no one would dare mess with. Just wasn’t particularly reliable, had to be started by rolling down a hill and engaging first gear (starter died sometime in the 1950s), wasn’t synchro in first (if you know what that means, don’t admit it) and drank a quart of oil every 50 miles or so. It had brakes, which worked. Most of the time.

Now? I’m not about to go get a car without A/C, disc brakes, power windows, doors, you name it. I’ve gotten soft in my old age; I like my creature comforts, and live near an infested swamp (Washington, DC). Some reliability in what I drive is nice, as well. Back in the day, I would’ve loved either of those econoboxes, had they been available and had I had the, oh, roughly $1,600 that $11,000 today translated to in 1962.

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