Seward High Buyers Guide to Automobiles


Clay Petersen, origami enthusiast

So you just turned 16. You’re a blossoming sophomore, and you want to hit the open road. But alas! You haven’t yet purchased a vehicle to do this hitting of the road! And you don’t know what to buy! You’ve been searching for many minutes and are still coming up answerless. Well, search no longer! This will be a complete buyers guide to some of the most prominent vehicles that Seward High students already own!

First up on ASHBGTA is my own personal vehicle: a 2009 Chevrolet HHR LT. This car is equipped with a 2.4L ecoboost engine and a 4-speed sideways (transverse) mounted engine powering only the front two wheels.  It makes a whopping 195 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque.  The claimed 0-60 is 9 seconds flat, and it is also said that it can complete a quarter mile from a standing start in 16.4 seconds. This is by no means fast, but compared to most economy cars, it is quite quick. Chevy says it gets 20-25 miles per gallon in the city and 30-34 on the highway. In my own personal experience, I have averaged about 28 MPG driving in and out of Seward. So if you’re looking for a car that only sips from the wallet instead of chugging, this is it. Now that we’re all done with the numbers and boring stuff, let’s get to the real review.

The year is 2004. The PT cruiser has been out for three years now and has already sold almost 600,000 units. Chevy execs are having a freakout that Chrysler will soon completely corner the market on the community. So what do they do? They hire Brian Nesbitt, arguably the WORST car designer ever. To his name, he holds leading the designs of 3 cars. The PT cruiser, CCV (pictured) and the topic of this article, the HHR. When you think of an HHR, your mind probably also jumps to the PT cruiser; how does it feel knowing that the same man designed them both?

 The seat warmers in this car have two settings, hot and HOLY FRICK MY NARDS ARE ON FIRE! The heater warms up quickly in even the coldest of conditions, and they all come with AC as standard. The glovebox is just big enough to fit your Bible and maybe a crumpled up coat hanger. The car is very skinny, so instead of a center console between the seats, Nesbitt decided to put a little hatch thing on the dash. It sucks. It’s too small and everything just falls out anyway.  Pretty much the HHR’s only redeeming factor is the rear ;).  With the rear seats folded down and the front seats slid all the way forward, the car is big enough to fit an entire single sized bed. Perfect for camping and nothing else. The rear also has a fancy storage tray that can be moved up to make a shelf for fitting more L.A.R.P. gear. The biggest problem with the rear of the car is its battery placement. It is under two trays, one of which is a pain to get out. Even this would be okay except the tailgate latch is electronic; meaning if the battery is dead, you can’t get to the battery!!

The problem with the HHR isn’t really its own fault. It’s a great car to drive; and it puts up a helluva fight even in the worst conditions. The steering is precise without being touchy and the driving position is as adjustable as the car is ugly.

The problem with the HHR is it’s funky shell. Most cars are a product of their time, keeping their demographic current and in the popular brackets. Take the Mistubishi Evo for example, when Japan was rich and wanted sports cars the EVO was a sports car, but now in a time of family and practicality, the EVO is an SUV. The HHR wasn’t that. It was a callback to the 1950s and how America was then. Its styling was different, and people can like that, but it wasn’t NEW. People saw the car for what it was–a half-assed attempt at bringing us back to a time when America was thriving. The only people who would have liked the HHR for its nostalgia were mostly dead. And that was what drove it out of production. 

The HHR is a car that you inherit from your Great Aunt Gertrude when you’re down on your luck. When ol’ Gerty died, nobody knew what to do with the car. Angela just got the new 4-runner and Klark moved to the Philippines. Uncle Rob will die before he wears out his Solara. So they gave it to you. And you needed it. You need it, so you will take it.  HHRs have lasted this decade in near mint condition, all with low miles and regular maintenance. But they won’t much longer as they will be given to the poor people in the family who can’t spare a $100 every few months for an oil change. As soon as the WWII veterans who bought these cars new to take them back to the good old days die. The HHR doesn’t have but maybe 10 years left before they are all garbage. They will go from garage kept and warmed up for exactly ten minutes before driving, to being left on the street year around and hanging on to the same set of brake pads long long long after they start to squeak. From princess feline to alley cat– these cars will not last.

So would I recommend that you buy an HHR? Yes. The HHR is a car that will be good to you as long as you are good to it.  They are very reliable as long as you take care of them and they are easy on the pocket. They are drastically cheaper than a Chevy Cobalt (which is exactly the same car without the ugly.) So if you don’t mind a few heckles about how weird your car looks, it’s a great buy from some little old grandma or the cousin in charge of her estate.

P.S. If people do make fun of your weird looking car, here are some things to say in retaliation to shut them up.

-Race me bro c’mon. (Unless they have a sports car or it’s winter, you have a high chance of winning, and if you don’t they will still be impressed at how close it was.)

-Well, where do you sleep in your car? (Remember, the HHR fits an entire bed in the back.)

-I’d rather have a funny lookin’ car than be broke all year paying for gas.

-And finally…yea but where’s your car? (Note: this only applies if the heckler does not currently have a vehicle to drive. Bonus points if they have asked you for a ride recently.)