Smart car catches attention

Published 11:39 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

People around Helena point fingers and mouth comments as they see the flash of red known as a Smart Car with Cadence Serna behind the wheel.

It has not been authenticated to be the only Smart car in town, but considering he purchased it just two weeks ago, that seems likely. Made by Daimler AG and produced in Hambach, France, it is touted as “a dynamic elegant expression; a clever car.”

“This is the Passion Coupe model, which retails for $13,990,” Serna said. “Had I bought this two years ago, I could have immediately sold it and doubled my money, as they were not yet available in the U.S. but quite the desirable new technology.”

As it happens, he traded in his 2004 Ranger XLT at Crown Automobile in Hoover, after his wife, Dana, responded to an e-mail that the couple would indeed be interested in learning more about the product.

Serna has filled his tank once, getting 300 miles on eight gallons of premium. He also points out should he become jaded with the shiny red exterior, or decide to undertake a bank heist, he can run by the Smart dealership, and for $1300, be on his way an hour later in a completely different color car. However, the Hello Kitty air freshener card that dangles from the front mirror and dates from his previous vehicle would have to be tossed.

He is still considering what to imprint on his vanity plate. ‘Guzzler’ has been suggested by friends, but he is still taking nominations.

Serna’s lifestyle is perhaps a perfect fit for a Smart Car, as his daily commute is less than 20 miles. He divides his time between Starbucks in Alabaster, where he is a long-time employee, and Jefferson State College, where he is working toward a degree in history, with plans to teach high school students.

“So far, I have only found two things not to like about this car,” Serna says. “I have to drive barefoot to be perfectly comfortable, due to the reduced space between clutch and brake. And, there is no cruise control.”

So, what kind of music does this Smart Car consumer listen to? And why is he named Cadence?

“My mother was a big fan of King Crimson’s song Cadence and Cascade. She planned to give her child that name long before I was born,” said Serna. “I have been into German bands since age 13 when my grandfather brought me back Kraftwerk’s Autobahn album that he picked up to play while driving on the, yes, Autobahn.

“Front 242 is my favorite band, but my PlayStation has everything from Joan Baez, Earth Wind & Fire, Coil and soundtracks from the musicals Les Miz and My Fair Lady.”