I test drove one of the production dealer cars (vin #13) on June 23rd, 1995 and I had to capture the moment for posterity. So, I brought along a digital camera and went to Mission Viejo, Ca to visit Ken McGraw of Renaissance Cars/KLM Automotive. (see dealer list for more details...)

 As I drove up from San Diego to Mission Viejo, I was full of concerns about the car... Would I fit in the car? (I'm 6'4" and some cars just don't fit.) How would fast the acceleration feel? Would the car make alot of noise? What did the controls and the dash look like? Would I still want one after the test drive? And so on. But, soon I was standing face to face with the Tropica, in the flesh.

 First thing I looked at were the gauges and controls for the driver....

Roadster Gauges

My personal feeling was that they should have gone with a "regular" turn signal and horn placement, but decided that I would reserve judgement until after I drove it.

I then went to the other side of the car to get a better view of the complete dashboard and car interior layout.

Roadster Dashboard

From their I climbed into the car and felt the padded seats (albeit over the plastic/fiberglass shell) and found them very comfortable. Not something I would drive aroung the country but suprisingly pleasant.

Roadster Passenger Seat

After the seat examination, I had to look at the stereo system that would come standard with each First Edition Tropica. Well, looks like I'm going to have to replace the front speakers (which were down in the front kick panels) and install a CD changer with controller, and most likely an amp. But, these things could be done easily, and still keep the outer cover that protected the stereo faceplate.

Roadster Center Console

Upon closer examination, I found ample door pockets on each door, with a good sized (3-4") lip that you had to negotiate to sit down in. (Note: The driver is sitting BELOW the door, so be careful if you're not used to sports car entry and exit)

Roadster Driver's Door

From the Doors, we slide forward to a strange looking cover on the hood. After careful examination (and making sure there was no one around) I opened it and found the plug on a retractable cord.

Roadster Hood with Plug

Token look at the rims, and the logo.

Roadster Left Front Wheel

So then it's off to admire the car from the Left.

Roadster (from the Front Left)

Better yet, let's look from the Right.

Roadster (from the Front Right)

Okay, enough of the front, now let's find the tailpipe.

Roadster (from Rear)

Hmm, no exhaust system. But I wonder how big the trunk is...

Roadster Trunk

Well, you won't fit more than one set of golf clubs in there, but you'll be styling. By this time, Ken was ready for the test drive. And so was I!

We started by having Ken take the car out of the lot, stopped at the stop light, and then pulled through. The acceleration was comparable to the other cars, but the wind rushing past my head made me feel like we were flying. The car reached the speed limit (40) quickly and had pulled ahead of the other cars by at least 2 car lenghts. Upon reaching the speed limit, we went out onto Marguerite Parkway and went up a moderate (6% grade) hill and the Tropica did not suffer any ill effects from this climb. We stayed out in front of the late morning pack and came to another light.

We stopped there and made a right, into a College campus?, and went up their driveway (which was also a 5-7% incline) and then proceeded through the winding road through the campus. Before I knew it the car was gliding to a stop and was making the right turn to come by the dealership. I thought I was not going to get a chance to drive the very limited car, but Ken started another lap and pulled away from traffic once more. All the while, giving me information on the car, the design details and generally being a good salesman.

We pulled into the campus, and he stopped the car and put on the parking brake.

"At last," he cried and sped off into the night...

Not quite. After we switched seats, I noticed that the parking brake pedal was "different". In order to disengage the parking brake you stepped on the pedal, and it released. I pressed the button for the right turn signal and moved down the driveway towards the main road. Upon applying the brakes I noticed the car did not have power assisted brakes, and really did not need them. So, I pressed the button for the right turn signal and honked the horn. Looking more carefully this time, I pressed the button for the right turn signal and moved out into traffic.

Ken politely showed that I did not have to "stomp" on the accelerator to get performance, if I "feathered" the throttle I could achieve the same acceleration without using so much energy. When I asked how he knew this, he pointed to two bar leds in front of the driver. One was amount of charge, the other was amount of draw. Very simple, and straight forward. So, I eased off the throttle, and looked at the speedometer. "Whoops!" I was already breaking the law. 44 in a 40 mph zone. :)

So, I eased off the throttle some more and pulled into the campus. Curious about the handling I pushed the Tropica a little harder than Ken did on the winding road, and the Roadster came out with shining marks, but I overshot the stop sign by 4 feet. (Still trying to get used to the brakes.) So, then it was down and to the right and into the parking lot for the dealership.

My excursion was done. And so, we said our farewells asked about delivery dates, and parted our ways. But, I had to take one last look at the Tropica...

Roadster (from Right Rear) 
So what are my opinions after driving the car? They can be summed up in one question... 

So, when do I get mine???

Answer: March 29th 1996

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