The sun was setting as team Gobi or Go Home sat around drinking Seattle’s finest espresso at Vivace on Capitol Hill. They were getting ready to close, and Shane and Roberta were getting antsy about going to work.
“Dude,” I pointed across the street, “Let’s go look at that Smart car.”
You see, Seattle has recently been infiltrated by hundreds of white and blue Smart cars that you can just hop in and drive somewhere. It’s like ZipCar taken to the max. It’s particularly handy for three people planning on driving to Mongolia, because the Smart car is about the smallest car you can find on the road in the US. Surely, it could give us some perspective.
The Panda against a Smart
So, the Smart measures 61.4″ wide, 60.7″ tall, and a piddly 106.1″ long.
I felt confident as I went to the internet and looked up the mighty Fiat Panda. My confidence was short lived.
The Fiat Panda measures 62.7″ wide, 62.7″ tall, and a massive 139.3″ long.
All told, the Fiat Panda is 1.3″ wider, 2″ taller, and 33″ longer.
This is troubling. Why? Doors. The Smart car has two doors, and virtually no hood. It’s a small egg thing that looks like it will easily topple into a headfirst roll if you brake too hard. The Fiat Panda has a bit of a hood in front of it and four doors. When you start looking at a Smart and imagine an extra 33 inches—well, I just don’t see where Shane’s legs are going to go. Shane has already decreed that he will be chauffeured to Ulaanbaatar, and will be cozy in the back seat, occasionally giving us directions.
The Panda against the Fiat 500
We started wandering Cap Hill looking for an answer. Quickly, we stumbled on a Fiat 500, as one is apt to do in any urban area. The Fiat 500 is, without a doubt, one of the sexiest cars on the market today. It’s small, practical, sports a great pedigree, and has great European lines. Of course, it’s also a small runabout with only two doors.
The Fiat 500 is a ridiculously tiny 52″ tall, 52″ wide, and 116.9″ long.
So, the Panda is a lot bigger. Kinda. Those are the dimensions for the original Fiat 500, a small Italian car made from 1957 until the mid-70′s.
The new Fiat 500 is 64″ wide, 58.6″ tall, and 139.6″ long. Yes, the Fiat 500 is a small bit wider and longer than our Fiat Panda. This type of statistic did not fill the team with confidence.
The Panda against a Volt
So, how does a Panda get on against a Chevy Volt? That’s a tiny car. A little hybrid shopping car that’s made to get urbanites around the city and suburbanites to the shopping mall.
The Volt is 70.4″ wide, 56.6″ tall, and 177.1″ long.
Wow. So, basically, the Chevy Volt brings back to life the dream of ridiculously large American cars. 177 inches long. That’s just vulgar—Bourgeoisie at its apex. I think Elvis had a Caddy that was shorter than a Chevy Volt. Moving on.
The Panda against a Mini
The modern Mini is one of three great modern revivals of classic cars (the New Beatle and Fiat 500 being the other two). Let’s see how it stacks against the Panda.
The Mini is 66.3″ wide, 55.4″ tall, and 145.6″ long.
So, we’re almost in the same league as a Mini. Think about that to yourself next time you pass one of these on the street. Think, Those three fools are preparing to drive 1/3 of the way around the world in something a little narrower and shorter than this.
We might be, but ours is taller.
The Panda against Priscilla
Finally, we stack the Panda against my first car, a 1969 VW Bug. This was also one of Shane’s first cars. Arguably, it was the first car I really learned to work on. (This is not reassuring to my teammates, as Priscilla’s engine froze after about a year under my ownership).
The VW Bug (1967 anyway) is 60.6″ wide and 160.6″ long.