Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back Where it All Begins, Part 3: New commuter, Same old smile

With Little Blue sitting on a street a few streets away from my house, having suffered a humiliating racket, side of the road death, 1 tow to Napa, 1 tow back home to Petaluma the next day, it was time to fix the most obvious thing. We needed a new car. This was coming for a while. We wanted a safer 2nd car to take Oak to and from daycare. Having 1 car that could accomplish this made it too tough on EP and it was always her responsibility to shuffle Oak around.

So I set out.

Where does one start when all new cars look the same? I suspected a 4-door Jeep Wrangler was what I needed. Who else makes a 4-door (for the kid) that the top comes off (for me) with some amount of hauling capacity (for future junking adventures). I test drove 2, and we were close to pulling the trigger on this one...

Sure - it was loud and the zip up windows seemed impossible to operate while moving, but it bottled and sold America freedom. No trails off limits. There were obvious drawbacks though. At 18mpg at its best, it didn't seem wise for a commuter driving 40 miles a day. It also drove like a... truck. Imagine that. And, frankly, it was expensive. They were willing to let this new 2011 model go for $23,500 and that was the cheapest one on the lot.

I went home and EP moaned about missing our MINI Cooper S we had years ago.

Mmmm, I thought. They do make a 4-door.

So we started looking around for the 4-door versions - the Countryman - to see how much they cost. Last time I bought one I worked for the agency that did their advertising. We actually qualified as a BMW employee and got the corporate employee price - cheaper than the employee at the dealership was eligible for (he pointed out to us).

This time there would be no discount. The bastards at MINI of San Francisco were the same jerks they were years earlier when we had been MINI shopping. They stopped short of suggesting we buy a Honda, which is what they did last time we were there, but never gave us price info over the phone. And I didn't want to drive an hour and a half to find out they were too expensive.

A Google search turned up a link to a "MINI of Marin". What? Marin is the county to the south of us. Way closer than San Francisco. Apparently they had opened a dealership and we hadn't heard about it. We immediately took of in search of a Countryman, man.

Come to find out, it was the first weekend MINI of Marin was open, and the place was bumping. We got hooked up with a salesperson named Al who turned out to be awesome. I took the Countryman for a test drive, confirmed a car seat would fit and we sat down to find the perfect one. He didn't have one with a sunroof and a bench seat in the back (as opposed to bucket seats) so he had to order one for us...

Oak, who was shopping with us, was still partial to the Camry...

As I didn't have a car, they gave me a loaner for a few days until it came in. Below is the loaner and the proof that a baby seat does not make sense in a normal size MINI...

Below is the one we ended up getting. No name yet. So far I really like it. But part of me feels like an ordinary Joe. You know the ending monologue in "Goodfellas"? That's how I feel not driving my VW to work. No one cares. No one talks to me about the MINI....

See, the hardest thing for me was leaving the life. I still love the life.... We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it’s all over. And that’s the hardest part. Today, everything is different. There’s no action. I have to wait around like everyone else. Can’t even get decent food. Right after I got here I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I’m an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.

And here is EP, in the Grey Ghost circa 2007 near our house in Sausalito. Back where it all begins.



Cool car, but...you're right.....it's not a VW.
Let EP drive the Mini....you good sir can pilot one of the soon to be running VW's. No need to feel like a schnook.
You only partially sold out.
There's still VW running thru your veins.
Cheer up.


Love those black wheels. That's a sharp looking commuter car. :) Sorry about your beetle man! THAT SUCKS.

Big Blue's Driver

Okay - Little Blue is gone. I am down to the 56 and Big Blue. Time to get the 56 on the road! Starting to focus on that now. Thanks for the support guys!

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