When I was but a lad I had the hots to own a sports car. My ride at the time was a Corvair 500 Turtletop four-door and while an excellent conversation starter, it was about as far from a sporting ride as one could get. This led me to visit one of the many small used car lots that once carpeted my neck of the woods to check out a natty Fiat 850 Spider.
It sat there in its fly yellow paint and black vinyl top, gleaming under the buzzing overhead lights. It didn’t matter to me that the engine had but 47 horsepower, or that it sat well behind the rear axle line potentially giving the car all the handling characteristics of a bucket of water swung on the end of rope. No, what mattered was that it had split blade bumpers front and rear, and sugar scoop headlamps, and a top that disappeared behind a hard tonneau, it was sex exemplified.
Then I got in. One thing I perhaps haven’t mentioned is the the Fiat 850 Spider is an incredibly small car. Did I mention that? I didn’t think so. It’s so small in fact, that once I was behind the wheel I found that there was room in the footwell for only one of my feet. I’d be a tough choice which one as I’m pretty attached to both. The problem was of course, the front wheel arch. It encroached significantly into the floor space where your feet should go. It was so tight in that car that the sideview mirror would have to do double duty as the dead pedal. Sadly, my love affair with the 850 was over almost before it started. My next car would be a sporty car rather than a sports car, a 1965 Mustang 289 coupe, and it had room to roam.
What about you, have you ever encountered a car that was just too dang cramped to drive? Was it a sad realization for you too?