State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Chevy Sprint Nostalgia

OK, so the Chevy Sprint wasn’t the car to impress the girls, but after seeing one too many ads for expensive hybrids that just can’t do what the Sprint could, I’m looking back on it with some nostalgia.  For full disclosure, I have never owned a Sprint, but have had many friends who did.  In hindsight, I think there is a lot to praise in a car that was cheap, simple, and efficient.  Perhaps, best of all, it shows how the free market solves problems compared to our current manipulated market of subsidies and tax breaks.

The Sprint was cheap.  MSN Autos claims the 1988 version had a retail price of $5,495.  Not just cheap, it was simple.  Ehow.com summed up the Sprint as follows:

“Given its roots in economical design, the Sprint was a rather boxy, stubby vehicle offered as a 3- or 5- door hatchback with few amenities.  In fact, air conditioning was the only option available on the Sprint for many years.  Power door locks and windows were not available, nor were most other appointments readily available on most U. S. domestic and imported vehicles.”

For those of us who like to operate our own wrenches, the simplicity is a big plus.  Ever looked at the shop manual for a hybrid?  Just take it to the dealer.  For the environmentalist in all of us, just consider how much less polluting simpliciy is.  No batteries with all their issues.  Far less industrial waste making all the extras.

And how about efficiency?  MSN Autos shows the 1988 Sprint had a 1.0 Liter, Inline 3 Cylinder engine with 46 Horsepower, 54 mpg city and 58 mpg highway.  Forgive me if I’m not impressed by the Prius at 45 mpg or some of these other hybrids which are as low as 30.  With today’s technology couldn’t we (and shouldn’t we) have a $10,000 car on the market with 50 HP and around 70 MPG?  In our cash-strapped, $4.00/Gal of gasoline society, wouldn’t such a thing sell like hotcakes?

I guess those solutions were for the days of a more free market.  It’s just not how we roll anymore.  The Prius has a base price of $24,000, which doesn’t include the roughly $8,000 in subsidies.  Then there’s the tax incentives to get anyone to buy the things.  Markets follow money, and if the money is in government subsidies, then that’s where they move.  But at what cost?  Instead of  ‘saving the earth’ with the simplicity and efficiency that the free market rewards, we have chosen crony capitalism and destructive production.  I’ll grant there are some decent 40 mpg little cars out there, but I think there’s a market for simpler and more efficient.  I can’t financially justify any new car compared to just dumping fuel into my old gas hogs that are paid off, so I guess I’ll  hold out for when someone decides to make, well, another Chevy Sprint.

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  1. I had two different Chevy Sprints – except for neither one of them was badged as a Chevy. They were all made by Suzuki, and were also badged as the Suzuki Forsa and Geo Metro. Really, they were sweet little cars, except for they suffered in longevity. Once they had 140,000 or so miles, everything seemed to start going at once. They were simple enough to fix yourself, because in one I changed the timing belt with no real problems, and in the other I dropped the tranny to change a clutch. No sweat. But, the thing that seemed to “kill” them both was the electronics. Electronic Ignition systems and engine control computers. On long trips under 65 mph, they would actually get over 60 mpg, and given favorable circumstances like level ground with a slight tailwind, would actually get a genuine 63 mpg. But, I only paid $900 for the one, so when I kept suffering electronic problems, I didn’t feel too badly getting rid of it.

    And, I understand that the batteries in the hybrids are pretty expensive, and need to be replaced at about 90,000 miles at a cost of about $4,000 for new batteries. Somehow, the math in my head says that the environmental and financial costs of those batteries won’t make up for the couple mpg less one would get from a simple gas engine in the first place.

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  2. An answer from an epxret! Thanks for contributing.

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