One of the first things Americans traveling in Europe (and probably in many other parts of the world as well) notice that is different from back home is the size of European cars. They're tiny! We're talking two doors, limited leg room, barely any trunk, tiny. All those little go-kart vehicles speeding around the streets of Cannes provided me with an endless source of fascination as an undergrad abroad, and they still grabbed my attention this past spring in Paris.
The most intriguing of all the little cars is without a doubt the SmartCar. This impossibly minuscule, room-for-two vehicle looks like somebody took a chainsaw to it, leaving only the front end of the car. Of course, it's easy to see why they've become rather commonplace in Europe: they get great gas mileage (gas is way more expensive over there), are easy to park (ever try to find an available spot in a Parisian neighborhood?), and are superb at navigating narrow streets (of which there are many in the Old World). Not to mention the fact that it is undeniably adorable. But the Smart is still a rare sight in the U.S., which is why this one easily caught my eye. Parked in the street of my neighborhood, this Smart looked exceptionally teeny because it wasn't in its natural European habitat, where it coexists with lots of other small cars. It was in the land of the SUV - or at least the four door - making it truly something to see.