New Car! No. 24, at Least!
Jude Wanniski
April 28, 1999


Memo To: Mitsubishi Motors
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: My New Eclipse Spyder

No matter how many times I get a new car, I'm like a little boy again when I drive one off the lot, new or used. I always think the car I just bought is the best one ever, but after driving around my new Spyder GST convertible for the last weekend, I am absolutely sure it is the best ever, at least for the money. I'd been driving a BMW 328i convertible for the last three years, but I promised my son Andrew that if he went three years without a moving violation, I'd give it to him. So he drove slowly, slowly for three years, and now has the Beemer. He recommended I buy a Porsche Boxter, supposedly a fantastic roadster at a relatively low price of $46,000. Alas, after driving it around for several days, I decided it was too, too loud. A young man's car, maybe, but it gave me a headache, roaring so that when it was cruising in 5th gear, I kept thinking it was in 3rd. In any event, I drove several other ragtops, and by happenstance dropped into the Mitsu dealer ten days ago in Newton, N.J., on Rt 206, and took a ride in a GST. My goodness, what a ride!! When that turbo kicks in, it is really a rocket ride, and when I got it out on the road, I thought I was in 5th gear, but the tach suggested I was in 3rd. Sure enough, it is as quiet as a pussycat. For $27,000, something had to be wrong with it, but the power top comes down in seven seconds, and I don't have to get out unless I want to put the boot on. The stuff that comes with it is almost all I could want. I did order the ABS as an option and got the 10-disc CD changer. I'm already trying to persuade my son Matthew that he should trade in his Suzuki Sidekick and buy a Mitsu. By the way, I also drove a GT, without the turbo rocket, and it was terrific too, and a few thousand less. Anyone who tries it will have to like it!

Now this is the 24th car I've purchased for myself. I've actually bought several others for spouses and children. I bought a Dodge Shadow for each of my three children, when each came of age. They were great cars and one is still in the family. My first car was a 1949 Studebaker sedan. I was at UCLA as a sophomore in early 1956. In my chemistry class, I had a girl as a partner in the lab experiments. After several experiments, she asked me why I never asked her for a date. I told her I didn't have a car. She said her Dad ran a used-car dealership. The next thing I knew, I was offered a '49 Studebaker for $50. It only had 91,000 miles on it. I didn't have $50, but I had $25, so I talked my buddy Dick Campanella into going halvsies. It only got 8 miles to the gallon, until Campy discovered it had a leak in the fuel line. We bought a new hose for $1 and then got 30 miles to the gallon! We drove it to New York and back in the summer of 1956. It only broke down twice. Sometime in early 1958 its innards finally gave out at 110,000 miles. We sold it to a junk dealer for $25. I bought my next car, a Chevy, from another UCLA buddy, Lew Merkelson. I could tell car stories all night. Here is the long list of my car family:

1. 1949 Studebaker, bought in 1956
2. 1952 Chevrolet, bought in 1958
3. 1959 Panhard (French), bought in 1959
4. 1958 Volkswagen, bought in 1960
5. 1958 MGB, bought in 1961
6. 1959 Buick Elektra, bought in 1963
7. 1960 Buick Riviera, bought in 1965
8. 1963 Lincoln Mark III, bought in 1967
9. 1968 Oldsmobile 88, bought in 1968
10. 1966 Sunbeam, bought in 1968
11. 1970 Dodge Dart, bought in 1970
12. 1972 Mercury wagon, bought in 1972
13. 1975 Toyota Celica, bought in 1976
14. 1978 Chrysler New Yorker, bought in 1979
15. 1980 Mercedes 300 SD, bought in 1980
16. 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood, bought in 1984
17. 1987 Mercury Mark VII, bought in 1986
18. 1988 Mercedes 300 E, bought in 1988
19. 1993 Toyota FourRunner, bought in 1994
20. 1989 Lexus, bought in 1989
21. 1993 BMW 740i, bought in 1993
22. 1996 Saab convertible, bought in 1996
23. 1996 BMW 328i, bought in 1996
24. 1999 Mitsubishi Spyder GST convertible

No.17 was totaled on black ice early in the morning, on the way to Newark Airport. I was unconscious for an hour and spent a five days in the hospital. No. 22 -- a "safe" Swedish car -- was totaled one morning when the brakes went out with only 700 miles on the speedometer. I crashed into the concrete median strip after coming off an interstate ramp, on the way to see Steve Forbes at his campaign HQ. The airbag saved my life. No more Saabs for me.