Saturday, August 16, 2008

My New Toy, errr, Car

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OK, this really came out of the blue for me. Maybe I should say "red"?  Over the past few years, my wife and I have struggled with a variety of vehicles until we both ended up driving green minivans.  Neither of which was great, though mine, a Plymouth with almost 150k miles, was doing ok.  I did have to just get it taken in for a bunch of work (including fixing a pretty significant oil leak that had developed).  Meanwhile, my wife has struggled along in her Ford Windstar (don't get me started).  Fortunately, in the last few months, my mother was in a position to sell us one of her vehicles, a 2003 Chrysler minivan (gold in color, no less).    In fact, that vehicle is so new, we still haven't completely gotten used to it.

Anyway, the last really new vehicle we had purchased was way back in the mid-90's when I got a Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Good vehicle until I totaled it.  Nevertheless, I'd been wanting to switch to a car and get out of the SUV (and then minivan) market.  A few years ago I had test driven a BMW 540i with a sport package and was blown away by it.  So that had kind of been at the top of the pyramid.  Since then though, I've tried to temper my desires a bit and one of the candidates has been a Mini Cooper.  Probably, mainly based on The Italian Job.  But, I knew my wife was really "next in line" for a new car and she really did need a new one more than me.  Unfortunately, she is interested in some large SUV's which are out of our range right now.

dsc_0737.jpgAbout a month ago she totally surprised me (a great wife is good for that) by hinting that perhaps I should go ahead and look into a new car.  This was at least partially driven by the need for something more fuel-friendly than a minivan, which was truly a waste on my daily commute.  I had the idea of getting something used (ok, I suppose by "something" I really mean a Mini) so the payments would not be so much and we could keep the minivan for when I have kid and/or family hauling duties.  After all, the Mini is not the best equipped for a family of five with only four seats.  For whatever reason (the thinking of a wife continues to elude me), my wife seems to have decided that we should just get a new car (and the attendant warranty and maintenance packages).

That brought us to Saturday, February 16, 2008, when we headed up to Flow Mini in Winston-Salem to see what they had and perhaps buy one.  After test driving both a Cooper and a Cooper S, I decided I did like the spunk of the Cooper S.  However, I could not tell much difference in handling with the sport suspension, so that was not a real show-stopping option to get.  Likewise, other packages would have been nice, but not necessary.  After all, going from something over a decade old (and a minivan no less) to a Cooper S was a huge upgrade any way. As it was, there was one on the lot with the few options I really did want (pano roof, cruise control).

After a long, 4 hour event to test drive then sit and talk numbers, I ended up getting the 2008 Mini Cooper S seen here.  Chile Red with a white roof, which was probably my first pick for a color, though the black and lighter shades of blue had been growing on.  White was an outside shot as well. [Note: even though it took a long time, I though Flow Mini was a pretty good dealership to work with.  Tough negotiators.  My wife and I just joke about how long the process is to get a new set of wheels.]

Now I have to give it a name.  One of my daughters suggested "Mini Red".  May go with that, not sure.  I'm also hoping to get a personalized plate for it.  All along I kind of thought I'd get a red and white Mini and get "MINI WUF" for the plate (like Mr. and Mrs. Wuf of NCSU fame).  Then I could get a bunch of State stuff to put on it for game days when we tailgate during football season.  We'll see if that happens.

However, while sitting in church, I was thinking about (not the first time) how blessed my life is right now.  Sure, there are the struggles we all deal with, but all in all, I sure can't complain about my lot in life.  That has kind of gotten me to wondering about putting the plate "GODGIVEN" on it (though I have to believe that is already taken).   I wonder how many people would truly understand that?  Maybe I'll think of something else along the way.

As you may note, I've added a picture gallery of at least the initial shots of the new MCS.  Speaking of pictures, the PAD project is still chugging along, I just haven't gotten around to uploading the photos yet.  As a noob Mini owner, I've also hooked up with the Tar Heel Mini Motoring Club (THMMC) and the North American Motoring (NAM) club. Looks like many adventures lie ahead for the Mini!

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