By RANDY GONZALES
For Mick Jilg, it was a "smart" decision.
Jilg, a retired Fort Hays State University professor who owns his own art studio, always has zoomed around town in classics.
First was a 1958 Corvette, then a Datsun 260Z, and his last car was an Audi GT.
"I had the Corvette, I had the Z car, had the Audi -- never had a car with a back seat in my life," Jilg said with a laugh. "Why start now?"
Four years ago, Jilg bought a new 2009 Smart ForTwo, a two-seater much smaller than a compact car. Back then, gas prices were higher, and his Smart car got 50 miles per gallon on the highway and approximately 40 in town.
Jilg's Smart car also got all kinds of second looks from people after he first bought it. People around Hays are starting to get used to seeing Jilg zip around town in his tiny car, but he still gets a reaction at times.
"Most of the times, it just makes people happy," Jilg said. "I'll be turning the corner, and they'll just smile when they see it. They just giggle.
"It's not a car you want to buy if you want to be anonymous, because it does attract attention."
The car also attracted the ire of drivers looking for a parking spot when Jilg first bought it. He parked at the curb back then, and people would drive by thinking they found an open parking space, only to see the tiny Smart nestled in the spot.
"So, now I park about 4 feet away from the curb so the back is even with everybody else's car," Jilg said. "It doesn't look like the spot's empty."
Jilg also has a 1999 Ford pickup, which he said has a safety rating worse than his Smart car, which has a NASCAR-style roll cage and multiple air bags. But Jilg isn't worried about an accident.
"My fun factor is greater than my fear factor, because I'm having too much fun to be afraid," he said.
One of the things Jilg likes most about the Smart car is its unique appeal.
"Everybody's got a white something, all these SUVs," Jilg said. "They all look the same.
"There's nothing wrong with that, but it's just not me. It's got a little more cool factor."