latest automotive news, best new and used cars, find a new car ed896_photos_suzuki_swift_1991_1-1-610x440 QOTD: Thank Heaven for Little Cars? News

I nearly bought a Suzuki Swift once. If memory serves me correctly, and who knows if it does, it was a 1991 model. Or a 1993. Black, with two doors and the big, honkin’, pavement-pounding 1.3-liter inline-four. A real brute!

Alas, without much money in my pocket (I was, what, 18?) and a pressing desire to not be seen as the guy in the Geo Metro, I made a fateful choice. That Swift stayed exactly as I found it, slowly decomposing in the back corner of a sketchy used car lot, and I turned my attention to another. Sadly, the affordable object of my affection turned out to be a total lemon that soured me on Chrysler Corporation for many years.

But enough about the Plymouth Sundance.

Once in a blue moon, I wonder how different my life might have turned out had I purchased that Swift and become a card-carrying member of the subcompact crowd. Maybe you don’t have to imagine the experience, though. Maybe a very small car wormed its way into your heart and never really left.

I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t have almost immediately paid for a valve job, fuel pump, catalytic converter, and God knows what else had I purchased that Swift. While the Sundance offered a roomy cabin, comfortable seats, oddly solid steering and suspension, and 93 rampaging ponies, perhaps I missed a transformative experience by passing over the smaller vehicle. I’d at least have had more spare cash.

A fellow at my high school owned a 1990 Swift Turbo — three-cylinder turbo — and he couldn’t shut up about it. Yes, he was probably just happy to have his own wheels, and his ironic delivery made it pretty clear where he was coming from. But compared to our three-speed GM sedans, that blown featherweight egg really moved off the line (and kept going and going).

I think of this oft-overlooked segment because of the rumors swirling around the Chevrolet Sonic and Spark. The bottom of the automotive food chain. Is it a segment you think of with fondness? If so, why? What little car proved its worth in your life?

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