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What does cute and spicy look like?

Columnist

What does cute and spicy look like?

I wouldn’t say it’s driving a Yugo.

I drove to Wyndham; my friend said to me, “You look so cute and spicy in your little Yugo.”

I said, “I don’t think spicy is the word. I can’t see a grandma in a Yugo as spicy. I think of a young girl in a short floral skirt with cowboy boots and cowboy hat at a western dance as cute and spicy.”

My family has had a heyday teasing me about my Yugo. My grandsons call it my “Yucko.” My son-in-law said I look like Mr. Magoo in a little car. If you remember the cartoon with Mr. Magoo, you will recall his big head in his little car.

I said to my son-in-law, “Do you think I look too big for my little car? Are you saying my head is too big for the car?”

“No, the car looks too little for you.”

“I don’t care. I’m saving money. I can fill up my tank from the five-gallon gas can in Al’s garage.”

Later, I pulled up in front of the Wyndham Activity Center, and a young man came out and said, “I see you have a Yugo? Do you know about the founder? He built a barn, which has a Yugo falling from the sky and is on top of the barn. I’ll print it out for you.”

I said, “Thank you. I would appreciate it.”

“I’ll bring you the article.”

I told him, “This Yugo didn’t fall from the sky, but it fell into my lap. I didn’t know what I had. A neighbor had this 1988 Yugo stored in her garage. Her husband died, she was moving, and I bought the Yugo to save gas. At the park dance, several people wanted to have their picture taken standing by the Yugo. Another person stopped me at the gas pump and wanted to talk about my Yugo. They all said, ‘I haven’t seen a Yugo in years.’”

I don’t care how it looks.

Call it cute and spicy, but I call it just good sense.

It’s all about driving to town on a quart of gas. The gas tank holds six gallons, which will take me to Chimney Rock a couple of times a week, and back and forth to town from the Lower Blanco. I am saving a fortune. That’s what matters to me today. Oh, how we’ve all changed over the years.

The young man from Wyndham was true to his word. He photocopied information about Malcolm Bricklin, the maker of the Yugo. Mr. Bricklin’s life is quite interesting if you consider how many times he went bankrupt, lost his businesses, and even developed the Subaru, which, at the time, was termed, “The most unsafe car in America.”

He built his own vehicle, which he called the Bricklin SV-1. The SV stood for “safety vehicle.” He applied standards far ahead of anything the United States government was imposing in 1970. Sales did not meet expectations, and only 2,854 cars were built before the company went into receivership owing the government $23 million.

Then, there is the Yugo.

“The worst low quality car of all times.”

In 1980, Bricklin formed Yugo America, Inc., bringing affordable cars to U.S. drivers. The car carried the unheard of price tag of $3,990. With 160,000 vehicles sold during its launch, the Yugo quickly became the fastest selling European import in American automotive history. Because it was listed as one of the worst cars of all times, Yugo America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in 1991.

Malcolm Bricklin was an automotive entrepreneur. He is best known for his self-named automobile company, and for being one of the few Americans who has successfully introduced foreign cars in bulk to the American public.

It seemed like everything he touched turned up “wrong.”

How can a man do so much, and have such failures?

Sometimes, it takes a while before the complete story is told. My children are driving a Subaru today. I see the Subaru as just a grown-up Yugo. Of course, there is no cup holder or glove compartment in my Yugo, but it has everything I need to keep me from the gas station.

I’ve been thinking about showing off my Yugo. I’m planning to drive it in next year’s Fourth of July parade. I’ll have Sweet Al riding beside me, and Whiskey sitting as a car ornament on top. I’ll get it all spruced up for the parade.

This car is so small I can put it in the bathtub and suds it down. I’ll put a red and blue scarf around it and I’ll be honking and waving to you from my Yugo. Please, don’t be envious: it’s the only way a grandma can look cute and spicy.

Final brushstroke: In my younger days, I drove a big gold Cadillac with a prestige plate on front with the initials BJS. When I drove up to a store, the bumper covered the sidewalk. Here, I am driving a Yugo. Times have changed. We’ve all changed.

Artist’s quote

“Never give up; Life is on the wire … everything else is waiting.” — Nik Wallenda, aerialist, tightrope walker.

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Read other articles from the Artist’s Lane Column. See them at http://bettyslade.blogspot.com.

This story was posted on September 5, 2013.