Detroit's economy is in the toilet, right?
So who was driving the, oh, maybe millions of cars that clogged their local freeways the other day as I was coming back from a Ford F-Series pick-up preview in Romeo?
They couldn't have all just been walking/driving away from their houses, abandoning mortgages on which they owe more than those houses are worth.
That said, gasoline is essentially free down there, so they could be - and maybe are - living in their cars, which is probably cheaper than living in those houses.
As I always say, you can eat, sleep and make love in a car - you can't drive a house.
Whatever, the traffic was horrible.
One bright spot - it was the first time I had seen a new Fiat 500 on this side of the pond. Chrysler, now controlled by Fiat, has announced that this cute little thing will be sold here. As much as I love the car (I am a three-time Fiat owner, and have lived to tell the tale) I really wonder if maybe it IS too small for North American butts.
Interestingly, both this car, a pure re-imaging of the original from the late-1950s, and that other great iconic European re-make from the same decade, the new Mini, were both styled under the direction of the same man - Frank Stephenson.
And he's an American!
The little Fiat crossed the Ambassador Bridge just ahead of me - it appeared to have Ontario plates, but I really couldn't get close enough to it to see for sure or to take a snap. This is a shot I took of one in Italy a couple of years ago.
BTW, two things about the Ambassador Bridge:
1. There is now gasoline available at the duty-free (maybe it's been there for a while, but it was the first time I had seen it). It was $2.69 a US gallon, twenty cents less than I had paid inland half an hour before. Needless to say, the pumps were crowded with returning Canadians;
2. The toll there rips Canadians off. It was $4 US, and $4.75 Canadian. This when the two dollars are almost at par, and when the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia, a short trek up the pike, is $3.00 - in either currency.
Also, coming from Toronto, Sarnia is a shorter route than going through Windsor, which a lot of people still don't seem to know.
Live and learn.
I lost track of the Fiat once over the bridge - maybe it was being driven by a Chrysler Canada executive heading back south from Detroit to Windsor.
Yes, south - check a map.
A bit further along, I needed an upload facility, so I stopped at one of the new Service Centres which have been built along the 401. This one, at Dutton between Chatham and London, has been open just three weeks.
It was hugely stupid of the Ontario government to close nearly ALL the centres all at once as they were being re-built; they should have staggered the reconstruction.
At least they've done a nice job. They look attractive, and the one I stopped at offered a wide range of fast-food options (A&W, Timmy's, Taco Bell, KFC).
There was one chap whose entire job seemed to be sweeping up, so with luck it will remain as clean as it looks now.
(Speaking of, the cleanest road-side service centres I've ever seen are on either side of the I-94, south from Port Huron, just north of the Macomb Correctional Facility - the signs warn you to NOT pick up hitchhikers. American infrastructure may be falling apart, but somebody's doing the job here.)
It also appears that Canadian Tire has acquired the fuel-selling rights to all of these - at least, it looked that way from a quick glance as I motored along.
To complete this circular story, yesterday as I drove into The Big Smoke, there was ANOTHER Fiat 500 - what are the chances? Except this time it was an original-generation one, looking almost brand-new, painted the same light blue as my first car (a bigger Fiat 600).
The car was on the wrong end of a CAA tow truck. Wish I could have taken a photo of that too, but you would have been (rightly) all over me if I had taken a picture while driving.
The rig headed north on the 400.
Fix It Again, Tony.