Riding in style

On moving over the Rio Bravo in January 2000, I intended to use the famously efficient Mexican public transportation to get around. That notion lasted eight months.

I am addicted to my own wheels, I discovered.

So I went to the Chevrolet dealership in the capital city and forked over less than $8,000 (Gringo dollars) for this little baby. It has no AC or sound system. It’s called a Chevy Pop. It’s not sold in the United States, and it’s based on an old Geo Metro design.


It is an absolutely wonderful car. It gets a million miles to the gallon. It’s easy to maintain. The leg and headroom are huge. The backseat folds down, giving you carrying space like a pickup through the hatchback. And it never breaks down.

It cost only $500 more than a new VW Beetle at that time.

Ours has just 75,000 miles after 13 years. It was our only car till 2004 when we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, another great car that’s unavailable in the United States. It was made in Brazil and sold elsewhere as both an Opel and a Vauxhall.

At that point, the Chevy Pop became the spare vehicle. My child bride drove it downtown to the gym thrice a week, and that was about it. It was enjoying semi-retirement.*

But she was using it more of late, going here, there, everywhere hereabouts, and the fact that it has no safety equipment save seatbelts put the worry into me. Plus, she is lovely and deserves a lovely car to carry her about.


So last week we bought a 2014 Nissan March. The little baby has airbags, power steering, automatic transmission (which was new for her), a sound system plus Bluetooth, and other bells and whistles.

And she’ll never lock herself out again, forcing me to come rescue her, standing on the pavement, looking woebegone, staring through the window at the key.

* * * *

If you don’t count the beautiful Harley-Davidson purchased in 1977, I never bought a new vehicle until I was 50 years old. It was a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup.

I sold it five years later in Atlanta.

Since moving to Mexico in 2000, however, this Nissan is the fourth new car. The Chevy, the Meriva, our current Honda CR-V and now the March.

For years, I have looked down my nose at the Gringos who move here in their U.S.-plated vehicles, jam-packed trailers in tow like Okies fleeing dust. My opinion is that if you are moving to Mexico permanently, do it correctly. Leave your junk at home.

Buy new junk here, stuff that suits the surroundings. Mexican junk.

And buy a car like the locals do. But Mexico has allowed foreigners to bring their cars and drive around unmolested for years with expired plates.

And eternal tourist insurance.

But the rules have recently changed here, both with visas and with foreign-plated cars. This has caused lots of headache, consternation and expense where Gringos gather. Now they must have Mexican plates. This provides me pleasure.

I did it right from the get-go.

* * * *

* We sold it to a nephew last week.

(Note: Lots of links can sauce up a story, I think.)

28 thoughts on “Riding in style

    1. Steve: Culturally integrating is virtually impossible. However, the more you can do practical things like the locals, the easier life gets.

      And becoming a citizen, as I did eight years ago, is a no-brainer.


  1. Ahh, remember my li’l white Vocho Senor? That too was a great little runabout. Safely transported me to numerous parts and ports of that lovely country. Even brought me back to the land that I once forgot! I sold her (in the states!) to a Mexican for a fair price without even posting an ad.

    Those were the days…


    1. Mark: I do recall your Vocho, but you never gave me a ride in it.

      You may recall a number of rides I gave you in the little Chevy. I recall one time we rode to a town called Cuanajo on, I believe, your 40th birthday. Boy, that’s a long, long time ago, a really long time ago.


      1. Hmmm, well, I do apologize if I hadn’t offered you a lift my friend… I do recall your aversion to doggie dander. Could that have been why? Yeah, I remember lots of little jaunts, cafes, restaurants and the like in your cutie cruiser! Good times my friend, a lifetime ago!


        1. Mark: Ah, I remember now. That danged dog. You probably are right. It was a combination of not wanting to sit in a pile of shed fur, plus you bought the vehicle not too long before you up and drove out of town. Alas.


  2. Felicidades on the new wheels…I like the Nissan March…see a lot of them here in GDL…we bought a used 2008 Nissan Sentra after I got here…good cars and easy to get service by independent mechanics rather than having to rely on expensive dealerships…one thing I have noticed here in the big city is that many of the Mexican people are willing to spend more for their cars than they spent for their houses…


    1. Charles: The March is getting very good buzz, and we are quite happy with it although it has sat in our carport since it was delivered on Saturday. It has no license plates. The saleswoman who delivered it from the state capital came with a set a plates, and then she left with them too. First, since we had the papers, we went to the local office to get plates on Friday, but they wanted a driver’s license for this state, and my wife has a license (that never expires. Don’t ask.) from Mexico City. The car will be registered in her name. To avoid the cost and hassle of getting her a local DL, we opted to let the dealer get them, using the address of a friend in the state capital. We did that yesterday. Normally, we would have the plates this afternoon, but it’s some sort of government holiday today, so we won’t get them till tomorrow at best. Hope so because we want to take a ride!

      Neither of us has ever owned a Nissan but, if the attitudes and service we have seen so far from the dealership say anything, we will be happy with Nissan.

      Funny you should mention the fancy car phenom. You are quite right. Mexicans will shell out faster for a fancy car that everybody will see than for a house that far fewer will see. Appearances matter all over the world, but they really matter here. Cars especially.


      1. Yes…the Sentra is registered solely in Fabian’s name…even that was somewhat of a hassle because we bought it from a private party…a title search was necessary to ensure that the previous owner had done the necessary paperwork to release it…it was my first real experience with the Mexican bureaucracy…no such thing as a DMV here…we went to 3 separate locations…I will try for my Mexican driver’s license soon as my California license expires next week…but I try to drive as little as possible…the traffic here in GDL is crazy. Again…good luck with the March…you will look good in the back seat with your silk suit and panama…being chauffeured by your much younger esposa…


        1. Charles: I imagine driving in Guadalajara is no more fun than driving in Mexico City. I finally tossed in the towel completely, and now we only go to Mexico City in the bus. From there we use taxis, peseros, whatever. Anything to keep me from ever driving there again.


  3. So Felipe is looking down his nose at the likes of me! I’m one of those who schlepped Suburbanload after Suburbanload of stuff down here, drove my famed Eldorado as well as a Suburban (Yeah, I know you were only supposed to temporarily import one vehicle, but the rules don’t apply to me.), legalized the Eldorado later, sold it, and bought an American-made Malibu here in Mexico. Times were different then, and I knew that I wouldn’t get a plugged nickel for my stuff were I to have tried to sell it back in the Old Country.

    There are some of us who just have more baggage than others. Hell, there was a reason my people didn’t come over on the Mayflower; it would take damn near three centuries for us to finish packing. Life would’ve definitely been easier if we could’ve bought new, but we couldn’t afford to.

    That said, nothing beats the aroma of a new car. Felicidades on the new acquisition!


    1. Red shoes: Yes, in this area, you are one of them but I think you are improving. The new-car smell is indeed very nice. Hopefully, before too many more days pass, we can actually drive it out of the Hacienda and into the streets. Vroooommmm!


  4. Good for you, Felipe. My new one has, literally, bells, whistles and bags all over the place. Nice for heavy traffic with little blind-spot lights to avoid changing lanes and having one of the honkers leaning on the horn at me and saying vile things about me 🙂


  5. That is exciting! Maybe you can drive it on a short vacay to test it out. Zihua is not so far away, and they have great shrimp. 🙂


    1. Andean: Funny woman. Zihua is 3.5 hours away, so the Nissan will stay in the carport. With luck, we’ll have the plates tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

      Of course, my new paisanos drive with no plates and, even more common, long-expired plates all the time, and nothing ever seems to happen to them.


  6. Three hours plus in one day to a beach…no problem. You are retired and a different story is told then.
    People here can travel to work an hour or more everyday. That is one way… I did it at one time many moons ago.


  7. Very nice, Felipe! I must admit I took my Gringo-mobile south of the border too (an Isuzu Rodeo). When I moved back I donated it to my father-in-law as It had expired plates/registration and Mexican insurance. I hear now it barely runs. If I would have still had it I’m sure it would be running like a top. I maintain my vehicles very well. Oh well. Next time (if it comes) I will do it your way!!



    1. Mike: With all due humility, my way is usually the best way.

      Your story reminds me of what my wife has told me. Her father used to really take good care of his cars. When he died, one of his sons inherited the family vehicle, and it was trash in rapid time. Pity.

      Yeah, next time you move south, sell your car up there and buy new down here. We await you.


  8. There’s an ENORMOUS Nissan factory in Aguascalientes. It takes about ten minutes at freeway speeds to completely drive past it. Based on that, I’d say that Nissan is VERY committed to the Mexican market. (And of course to exporting NOB.)

    Be sure to drive your cars at least every week. Its very bad for a car to just sit.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where it’s a tough place to keep a car nice, what with all the snow, slush, salt, potholes, rain, and such.


    1. Kim: Just found this comment of yours in the spam file. Got no idea why it was there.

      Yes, Nissan is a big deal in Mexico, especially the Tsuru which is hugely popular, especially as taxis.


Comments are closed.