First they take Little New York, next they take the city. Freeman’s Little New York restaurant, located on Quinpool Road, is one of the first local owners of a European-made Smart car, an ecologically friendly, micro-compact car made by Smart, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler.
Picture a golf cart on steroids. Or better yet, add a tire to Steve Urkel’s weird three-wheeled car. That’s what the Smart car looks like.
Although it’s been popular in Europe for nearly 10 years, the Smart Fortwo (a two-seater) has only been in Canada since the fall (it still isn’t available in the US) and it’s causing a lot of commotion.
“It gets 82 miles to the gallon,” says Freeman Joseph, namesake and co-owner of the restaurant. “Sixteen bucks to fill the tank. That’s why I bought it.”
Smart car dimensions:2.5m long, 1.54m wide, 1.55m highFuel economy: 4.6 litres per 100kmRoots: GermanNumber of websites encouraging passers by to give it the finger: 0
According to the website (www.thesmart.ca), the three cylinder turbo engine uses only 4.2 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres and emits only 90 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
“I never feel guilty driving this car,” says Laurel Harrington, Freeman’s manager and co-owner. “I drove to Truro the other day for $4.”
The navy convertible—which is surprisingly spacious inside—was a Christmas gift from Joseph to Harrington, who’ll be taking full ownership of the restaurant once he retires.
“She has a car already but this is a toy to play with,” Joseph laughs.
Both Harrington and Joseph agree that it has become a huge advertisement for Freeman’s. “People call here all the time asking what is it and where did we get it,” says Joseph.
“And everywhere we go,” adds Harrington, “people point and smile. And it always attracts a crowd. I went to the movies last week and when I came out there were like 40 people around the car. There was even a mechanic under it checking it out. It is so rare to have something that even the sight of it makes people happy.”
Hummer drivers are often like scantily clad pop singers. They like to parade around and have people stare at their headlights, but then get defensive when someone asks what kind of example they are setting.
But if you are using an urbanized military assault vehicle to advertise your business, then you have to be prepared to tell people why.
Pat Wheaton, owner and operator of HFX Adventures, a local business that gives Hummer tours through Nova Scotia’s wilderness, has a pretty good answer.
“My Hummer is my business,” says the 26-year-old entrepreneur. “Sure a Chevy Cavalier can go where I go, but it won’t be coming back.”
HFX Adventures has been operating for nearly two years and though the Hummer is often regarded as a symbol of excess, Wheaton says, “Ninety-eight percent of the feedback is positive.”
“People flip out and jump up and down when they see the Hummer. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t give me a thumbs up when I drive by.”
Hummer dimensions:4.82m long, 2.06m wide, 2.01m highFuel economy: 23.65 litres per 100kmRoots: American militaryNumber of websites encouraging passers by to give it the finger: Three, at least ( www.fuh2.com, www.hummerssuck.com, www.flipoffahummer.com).
Most Hummer drivers are used to getting a different, more offensive finger when they drive by (check out www.fuh2.com). But Wheaton says he isn’t too concerned about that.“Yes, the Hummer uses a lot more gas than most cars do,” Wheaton says, “but I don’t drive mine as much as most people drive their cars.”
Wheaton says he uses his Hummer for work purposes only. And at $100 to fill the Hummer gas tank, he uses a Chevy Cavalier to pick up his groceries.
“I am one of the only ones using my Hummer for what it is really for,” Wheaton says. “If someone wants to use to go get groceries, then that’s their right. But unless you’re a millionaire you look like a moron.”
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