MINI and Me

Sure, I’ve felt connections with cars over the years. I mean, really, how could I not feel “connected” to a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera on the twisting roads of Hawaii’s Big Island? (I know, right?!) I seem to be able to find the good in all the cars and trucks I bring home. While my husband is quick to point out the many faults and flaws (he is, after all, a QA tester in his 9-to-5 life), I on the other hand like to look at all the positives and discover why that particular vehicle exists in the first place. Who would love it? Who would smile every time they walked up to it? Who would take pride in having it parked in their driveway every night.

And despite my positive outlook, I know when a car “works” with me and when it doesn’t. Like I said, I can make any and all Porsches, Land Rovers and BMWs “work” with me (trust me on this), but there’s always something missing. Always that little spark that I wish was there that just isn’t.

And then I drove a MINI.

Before I started seriously testing vehicles and was just dealing with a select few dealers (mainly Nissan and Dodge only) I was also purchasing my first car. Now, oh faithful reader, if you’re up to date on the life and times of said blog author then you’ll know my first car was a manual Subaru Impreza, and I inevitably had a connection with that car — but it wasn’t the most harmonious of relationships, and here’s why.

When I was looking for my new car I gave myself two options. I didn’t want to be cornered into buying something too expensive or buying something I hated. So I told myself two was a good number and I would test drive them both on the same night and get quotes for the prices on the same night. So I did.

I drove out to MINI Laval with my boyfriend (now husband) and we pulled up to the dealer. My palms were sweaty, my heart was beating quickly and I kept replaying the online payment calculator I’d done online hours before that assured me the Cooper S would only cost me $600/month. Perfect. I could do that. I had just recently graduated university as well and was convinced BMW would offer me a super-spectacular rebate for being a recent grad (and oh-so smart with my diploma).

Once we’d made nice with a salesman I couldn’t contain myself any longer and requested a test drive, and I was shocked when the salesman handed us a key and told us to have the car back in 45 minutes — he was letting us drive the car alone!

Besides sitting behind the wheel of the MINI at car shows, I’d never really sat in a MINI. But, here I was, sitting behind the wheel of a cherry red MINI Cooper S with checkered mirrors a white roof and white racing stripes. It was also a manual and I was still in my manual learning stage at that point. I looked nervously at my boyfriend (husband) and he urged me on and said I’d be fine.

Fine is an understatement. To say I felt a connection to the car is leaving much to be desired. It was instant. It was love. It was that spark I’d been searching for. The wheel felt like it was part of my anatomy, my foot flew effortlessly from the clutch, my other from the brake to the throttle without hesitation, without stuttering. I was driving like a manual pro (not quite heel-toeing, but I’m sure I gave it a shot). The shift knob was the perfect size for my minuscule hands, I loved the design, the look and the feel … of everything.

I had to have it.

We used every last second of our 45-minute test drive. And I’m sure the salesman began to wonder what we’d really been up to when I cam back completely flushed and a little out of breath. I think he regretted letting us go alone at that point.

Then it was time to crunch the numbers, and that’s where it all went horribly, horribly wrong.

As the numbers came out my heart sank further and further into my chest and it all came crashing to a halt when the salesman happily announced my monthlies (with $2,000 of my own money down because BMW had no love for recent uni grads) would be close to $800.

We left MINI Laval shortly after that, me urging my boyfriend (husband) to walk quickly so I wouldn’t cry in front of the salesman like an idiot. But I did cry in the car to Subaru. I cried a lot.

My boyfriend (husband), bless his heart, made a special stop for me at Second Cup and even went in to get me a too-big-to-be-normal white chocolate moka coffee thing to cheer me up before we moved on to Subaru.

But it wasn’t enough.

Even when I agreed to buy the Subaru because it was the right thing, because it was a good monthly price and because I did like the Subaru a lot, I couldn’t stop thinking about the MINI.

And I still can’t stop thinking about it.

That was nearly 6 years ago and I still pine for a Cooper S. I know I annoy the hell out of the BMW press fleet organizer and drive her batty with my MINI requests and eagerness to get behind the wheel — but in a way, because she works for BMW, I think she must understand on some level where I’m coming from.

I have a definite connection with the MINI. Forget that it’s cute and different and kinda girlie; I can drive the Cooper. I’ll push the Cooper S like no other car and feel confident in its abilities and its stance on the road. My confidence raises tenfold behind the wheel as well. Everything about the car just moulds to my body, to my personality, to my soul.

That last bit might be taking it a bit far, but you get the idea.

And here’s the real kicker: My husband dislikes the Cooper intensely. He’s too big for it. At 6’1 he’s definitely not the MINI Cooper ideal. He feels like the interior is making fun of him and he gets annoyed by the funky beeps and boops and funky interior lighting options; all things I absolutely adore.

It’s clear the Cooper is not a match for him. Our Java Black Pearl Subaru Impreza WRX with a Prodrive exhaust and Prodrive wheels, however, is. And I’m jealous on a daily basis that he gets to drive his vehicular soul mate everyday while I move from weekly affair to weekly affair till I get a few more drives in the MINI Cooper S.

Drive on,
– M.

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~ by drivingmsmiranda on November 22, 2010.

10 Responses to “MINI and Me”

  1. […] This post was Twitted by shawntloe […]

  2. Howdy,

    I stumbled upon your blog from Google Alerts set for MINI Cooper, for you see I run a MINI based site. You “get it” as to why we have such a passion for these oh so fun to drive cars. With your permission I’d like to post your article to the site, with credit and links of course.

    Thanks,

    Nathan

    • Hey Nathan,

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Yes, I believe I do “get it” when it comes to the Cooper … and it’s been that way since I first sat behind the wheel. 🙂 Fantastic little machines they are.

      You can definitely post my article on your site — all I ask is that it be linked back to my blog and my name be there (as you said would be done). I hope your readers enjoy it!

      Thanks again Nathan!

      Drive on,
      – M.

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