Life with a two seater is not nearly as practical as it is with a sedan. That much we all know. It’s a lot more fun.
Aside from the minor challenges of not being able to use it for hauling certain stuff – stuff often found at Lowe’s, furniture stores, on craigslist, or in bike shops – and other people, it has its advantages. It forces you to prioritize better and helps prevent a certain laziness that’s implicit with SUV ownership.
Every trip is an event. There’s a sense of occasion every time you turn the key. Everyone has their idea of practical minimalism. For some its an econobox. For others it’s a coupe or convertible. For me it’s something like my Toyota MR2.
The MR2 hits the spot in that it’s approximately a mainstream “normal” car in terms of comfort, fuel economy, and cost – factors to consider when it’s your only car. Sure there are some quirks like how about half the car’s mechanicals are in the front and the other half is in the back, and there’s all this piping and wiring that goes in the limited space in between.
But that’s part of its charm. And I don’t mean that in the way a real estate agent describes a crappy home. The MR2 serves up gobs of cornering prowess the way an overzealous lunch lady loads your plate with mashed potatoes.
Because while it’s a two-seater, I’ve found it to be quite practical – a good compromise for this enthusiast, and not a street version of whatever track car Toyota might have built. Oh wait, Lotus has since filled that niche with the Elise and Exige. You’re giving up some ultimate performance but I don’t see doing what I’m about to describe with an Elise, a Caterham or even a Miata.
Sports Car Minimalism
I recently put practical minimalism to the test: An 800 mile move. Some people hire movers or rent a truck and tow the car. Not I. Aside from one 500 mile weekend road trip I’ve never taken my MR2 on any sort of extended drive in the six years I’ve owned it and was eager to do so.
Other than a few trips to Home Depot, I was uncertain about its hauling capacity. Luckily I already had some help in the form of craigslist, the US Postal Service, and use of the garage attic of the home I was moving from, in case there was stuff I couldn’t fit.
By the way, if you ever need to ship a bunch of books, I was able to send 70 pounds worth via media mail for about $64 (varies by zip codes).
Anyway, my outlook was that I’d fit whatever I could and that was that. Visibility out the passenger side window would need to be maintained, I wasn’t going to use any sort of external rack or container, and I didn’t want my car to end up a worthy candidate for one of those email chains with a picture of a guy on a scooter hauling 50 live chickens.
With that I laid everything out in the garage and proceeded to play 3D Tetris for five hours. Yes, five hours. I used every single nook and cranny of the car and of every item that went into it. For instance, I discovered the box for my racing helmet could actually hold not just the helmet but a pair of pants, five wine glasses and some assorted knickknacks too.
You’ll never guess how many pairs of socks a door pocket will hold, even after you’ve already put bags of all your eating utensils in them. What about a wastebasket? Try three pairs of pants, four T-shirts, three pairs of shorts, a sweater, and a pump and hoses for a Sleep Number mattress. Ok, I admit the sweater was sleeveless.
It blew my mind how much could actually fit. And that was just the start.
When you examine the car’s cabin, trunk and frunk (front trunk where the spare tire normally resides), you find that they’re actually quite voluminous but the shapes are not generally cubic, and the openings not as accessible. Inside there’s the aforementioned door pockets, glovebox, storage bins behind the seats, the area above them behind the seats, under the seats, the passenger foot well, on the passenger seat, and even under the drivers legs, though I wouldn’t recommend using it for safety reasons.
The space is not very limited but rather our use of it that needs to expand. Some of the stuff I ended up taking included a printer, air mattress, pillows, blanket, files, binders, a dozen wine glasses, clothing and shoes, lots of wooden hangers, a racing helmet which I briefly contemplated actually wearing for storage reasons, pots, kitchen stuff, more personal effects than I care to have, a shredder and even a fuzzy blue top hat from Halloween. It’s too bad you can’t shred everything and put it together the same way like some big bang cycle.
It was a lot of stuff. And here are the lessons I learned:
- Being prepared to leave it behind reduces your stress.
- Have your “out” figured out. That is what you’ll do with what you leave behind.
- Unpack everything before you load so you can fill all the available space. Boxes speed up the move but take far more space.
To be continued…