Among the many dubious electric vehicles at Dishonest Used Car Dealership was the Myers NmG, also known as the Corbin Sparrow. Like most cheap-ish electric cars, it was a fiberglass three-wheeler, only this one had two wheels in the front and one in the back, unlike the Xebra of tales past. It was an odd-looking thing, sort of like a cross between an Isetta and the kind of giant hook nose that anti-Semitic propaganda pieces put on Jewish characters. It was not a lovely thing, and it only seated one person in all its non-air-conditioned glory, but it had the benefit of being reasonably well-constructed and having a usable top-speed, around 70 or so.
We had a bright yellow one about the time when they were fairly new on the market and hard to get your hands on. Like some varieties of motorcycle, the rear wheel on an NmG is driven by a big fat belt, and unfortunately, something was wrong with the belt drive on ours. The car drove okay, but one of the sprockets must have been out of alignment, because as you drove, the car would howl at you and eventually the belt would get uncomfortably hot to the touch. For whatever stupid reason, this never got fixed.
“I want you and The Raver to get some footage of the NmG for the new website.”
The Raver and I were parked in The Amazon’s office, and she was lecturing us on her theory that the new multimedia internet sensation that she and our Incompetent Tech Guy were building was going to catapult Dishonest Used Car Dealership into the Fortune 500.
Me: “Just so you know, the NmG is down right now. The belt’s fouled up and it makes a hell of a racket.”
Cue the shouting.
Between The Raver and myself, I was the shorter of the two of us, so I got to drive the NmG, since they’re not exactly roomy cars. The Raver climbed into the big Dodge we used as a tow rig, and we moved out toward the freeway. The Raver called me on speakerphone so we could coordinate the video.
Immediately, the NmG started complaining about its belt. Imagine a constant howl, starting at a couple hundred Hz and going up to maybe 1000 Hz at top speed. It was excruciating to listen to, just a constant “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” as you drove down the road. TR shouted at me over the speakerphone.
TR: “Is that the noise that effed-up belt makes? Jesus.”
I could barely hear him over the racket, but I shouted to the affirmative.
TR: “That is going to sound dumb as hell on the video.”
We drove south on the freeway that ran around the east side of the lake, TR hanging out the window with a video camera to get shots of the NmG, while simultaneously trying to remain mostly in one lane, shift gears, talk to me on the phone, and eat a bag of Doritos. It was a miracle no one died.
After a dozen or so miles, I could tell the NmG was not happy, as the howl was getting louder. TR shouted at me over the phone,
TR: “Dude, that thing sounds gnarly, we should get one last shot and call it a day. You should slow up and then shoot by me!”
I barely heard him, because at this point, I had my head halfway out the window, just because outside at 70 MPH was a quieter place to be than inside the shrieking NmG. I lifted, let the Dodge get up ahead of me, and pressed the accelerator to the floor.
TR got his shot, and we limped the NmG back to the office. We plugged the camera into the TV in the conference room and looked at our handiwork. For the most part, you couldn’t hear the NmG’s belt whine over the wind noise, but the sound of TR munching on chips was a little distracting. Finally, we got to the last shot, which went something like this:
camera pointed to floor
noise of Doritos being munched
TR, with mouth full: “This is gonna be f**kin’ cool.”
camera pans out driver’s window, sound switches from eating sounds to deafening wind noise
And then, coming from the distance, the NmG dopplers past.
By this time, not only was the belt so angry that it was howling, it was also smoking, so the lovely shot of a yellow nose-car howling down the interstate with an idiot’s head hanging out the window was marred only by the fact that it appeared to be on fire.
camera sweeps back to floor
sound of TR cracking up at the noise
It was not a great video. We showed it to The Amazon, who didn’t seem to notice anything unusual about it, and we walked out of her office snickering to ourselves and shaking our heads.
And that’s how, for about a year, a video of me in a screaming, smoking, bright yellow electric car was placed on the internet for all to see.