I tell you, I'm in love with my MINI Cooper, but sometimes I get so frustrated with owning it that I just want to cut my losses and walk away from it altogether.
I don't say this lightly - I spent a lot of time dreaming about owning a MINI Cooper, from even before they went on the market in the US. When I got serious about getting a new car, I spent months and months agonizing about what spec I wanted the MINI to be, and even more time saving up enough of a down payment to keep the monthly payments marginally-affordable.
But my luck with my MINI has been really bad. I had the incident in May of 2005 where a truck tire tread flew into my bumper while driving on the freeway. Then back in October of last year my MINI was keyed, requiring a respray of the door and the bonnet (hood). And just at the beginning of this past August I had another unfortunate encounter on the freeway - this time with a roll of carpet in the middle of the freeway - that sent me, once again, to the body shop. I should probably mention that each of these problems cost me $500. That's $1500 total since last year.
Plus I've had all sorts of minor problems that have been covered under warranty - most-recently a leaking motor mount, and a power steering fan issue that has been problematic, yet unable to be diagnosed since June of 2005. These problems brought me to Nick Alexander MINI this past Saturday, where the two problems were fixed, and they sent me on my way. I then left my MINI parked out front for the remainder of the weekend while Erik and I road-tripped in his MINI.
So when I was ready to walk away from my MINI today in the parking lot at work and noticed two sections on the driver's side where the finish looked weird, well, I felt okay about flipping out. There are two areas - one right below my side-mirror, and one near my gas cap - that look like they have had stickers stuck to them and then torn off, and glue has been left over. Only I don't think that's what happened. The sections that look like glue actually look like the wax and clear coat have been completely stripped away. Melted maybe? A wet finger did nothing to resolve it. Also, it feels bizarrely lumpy - when you run the fleshy part of your fingers over it you can actually feel RIPPLING in those sections. What. the. Eff?!?
Anyways, I figured after work I'd grab a microfiber towel and go at it with the Meguair's Quik Detailer. No dice. I've tried several times, and cried, and tried several times again. Why have I been so unfortunate with my MINI? I have no idea how this happened - it could have been wax that hadn't been properly polished on at some point either when it was at the body shop or perhaps by accident at the Nick Alexander dealership that maybe melted away in the soaring heat over this weekend - but something somehow has stripped the finish. I have no idea. I just want one day where I'm perfectly content with the MINI, and lately, I'm not getting any.
I've taken some great road trips, including up the coast, and through Joshua Tree National Park - to Las Vegas and back through Death Valley - and the trips in my MINI would have been even more mile-worthy had I not spent those miles in the passenger seat of Erik's MINI. We've gone to San Diego, Idyllwild, Monterey, Sequoia NP, and Pismo Beach. Heck, our MINI-worship even took us to the United Kingdom! The best thing about acquiring my MINI, without a doubt, is the friendship and now relationship that has sprouted between me and Erik.
I first found Erik online, on his blog, while I was researching for my MINI purchase back in July of 2004. He had posted a trip log of a journey he had taken up to northern California, and I spent much time reading through those several posts before I commented on them. I immediately felt a connection through our equal enjoyment of road trips, and we slowly started emailing back and forth.
By this time last year, we were instant messaging one-another throughout the day - mostly due to all the drama surrounding my MINI order. On several occassions, he invited me to accompany him to MINI events, or to movie screenings... but I was so shy and nervous about meeting new people that I declined his many requests. Once my MINI was purchased, I knew I had to bite the bullet and meet up with him. I had to tackle my extreme nervousness. And my goodness, I'm so happy I did!
We met up to have dinner and see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou at The Grove a little over a week after I took delivery of my MINI. I had a wonderful time, very-much excited to have a new, real-life friend - but our friendship progressed at that same slow rate until about February. We saw movies, attended MINI gatherings, and went on a fun day-trip to Joshua Tree. I was interested in programming, so we got together so that he could tutor me in Python. He was so much fun to be around, and we had so much in common - but I never could have imagined that he had any interest in me beyond friendship. I was wrong (yay!).
By March we were hanging out several times a week, preparing for AMVIV (A MINI Vacation on Vegas), a national MINI meetup. Originally we were going to be simply caravaning out there together, but when he proffered the idea of us saving money by sharing a room, a jumped at the opportunity to spend even more time with this guy I had developed a crush on. We had a fantastic time driving out to Las Vegas, talking back and forth on walkie-talkies throughout the speedy drive. The first day of actual AMVIV road trips, I decided to passenger with him during the travels, because I was having so much fun being with him.
That weekend we officially became boyfriend/girlfriend. I've spent nearly every weekend with him since then. And I am in love for the very first time. This, my friends, is the best thing that owning a MINI has done for me - and I'd give up this MINI in a second if it meant not-losing him. Otherwise, the MINI pwnz.
Because I have nothing new to share with you all at present, I'll offer you a glance at my state of mind a year ago today.
Other than meeting Erik, I seem to have the worst, worst, worst, worst, WORST luck with these MINI Coopers. Ugh.
I picked up my MINI from Bob Smith MINI late Friday afternoon after they had replaced my faulty oxygen sensor and a noisy engine mount (!!). I asked that they have their detailing squad have a look at my new scratches, to determine if they could be detailed away, or if a body shop would have to be consulted.
Alas, the news on Friday was that the scratches were too deep to be detailed away. I was expecting this. They recommended Precision Auto Body in Reseda (apparently where they send their body work to), but I'm definitely trying to do some research into recommended paint shops in the general area. I only want the best for my MINI, obviously.
First thing will be to find a reputable shop and get my MINI in for a rough estimate. If we're looking at more than $500 (likely), I'll probably have to file a claim through my insurance company and swallow the $500 comprehensive deductible. (Note to self: think about paying a little more every month to get that deductible down.) After filing my claim for the front-end damage from the tire tread, my insurance actually went DOWN, so I'm not so worried about insurance this time around - and know they'll cover my rental car - and that can be quite an expense, as any paint work usually involves at least a week of being in the shop, I'd imagine.
The good news is that, after a few days of driving a MINI Cooper Convertible, my own (fixed) MINI feels like I'm riding on rails. It's such a joy to drive. That's why these tire tread damages, and this newest keying fiasco, really take an emotional toll on me. This is the first car I've spent any amount of money on (a year of disciplined saving and several years of self- credit repair), and any little ding hurts a ridiculous amount. So much so that I begin to think "Is it worth it?" Of course I know it is, my MINI is a fantastic car, but I haven't had much luck with it lately.
Anyways, enough sulking, I need to get some recommendations... anyone?
As I mentioned in my previous post, my MINI had been filthy this morning. I decided I would take it to a local, recommended hand wash place over in Burbank. They talked me into a full Express Wax service, and I waited about 45 minutes while my MINI was primped for me.
I sat watching, getting up every few minutes to walk around a bit, and peruse the food and drinks available in the little convenience store attached. When the guy was finally done waxing my MINI, he raised his arm and opened up the driver-side door. I walked up, gave him my receipt and tip, and went on my way.
I was feeling really good about my MINI as I drive it from the car wash place to a nearby Taco Bell to grab some lunch before returning to work. I parked right up front, near the door, went in quickly and was in and out in under ten minutes. Got back in my MINI, drove a few blocks back to work. It occurred to me, as I was driving my newly-super-clean MINI, how sucky it would be if a bird crapped on my MINI, or, god forbid, I drove into something leaving a dent! No, no, no, these were stupid thoughts...
I drove onto the studio lot and down the river to the parking structure, went up a few floors, and parked. I gathered up my things and got out of the car. I closed the door behind me and turned around to make sure the doors were locked and I saw it...
...A two foot long scratch on my driver-side door panel. And wait, another footlong scratch above the front driver-side tire. WTF?!? My heart sank, and I immediately went into panic mode and called Erik, who listened as I sobbed in grief. He calmed me down and I went back out to re-inspect the damage. I can feel the scratch, but it doesn't look too deep. The paint hasn't curled off or anything. I can see white where the scratch is. From a distance, it almost looks like someone took a chalk pencil and marked up the side of my MINI. Alas, I'm just not that lucky.
Hopefully there's something I can do to "buff out" the scratches. Perhaps ScratchX, or something like that. I have no idea where this damage occurred - whether it happened sometime during the wash or while I was parked at Taco Bell. But I'm just heartbroken right now.
Wellllllllll, not really.
Here's my dirty little secret: I am really, really lazy. Terribly undisciplined. An incessant procrastinator. I have to find motivation to get things done, and, unless it's actual job-related work that I'm paid to do, or some type of favor I've promised to someone, that magic motivation is generally lacking.
This weekend Erik and I had loosely planned the following: to see the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, to have a nice half-day out at Will Rogers State Park, to play videogames, and to just have fun. Well, we played videogames (well, one videogame - Splinter Cell, which was AWE-some, seriously Erik, can I, like, borrow that?!?), and goodness, we did have a lot of fun - but we didn't make it out to the movie nor to the park.
Why? Because I am effing LAZY!
So I have this MINI-thing to contend with now. A few weeks ago a lite-tragedy occurred and my front bumper got messed up a bit. So I've been dealing with my insurance the last few weeks about it. See, I say that, but the insurance company has been very quick and answered all my questions and has, so far, really come through for me. So those "weeks" I say I've been dealing with them has actually been me twiddling my thumbs and not making up my mind about things. Gee will-lackers, I just can't seem to find the time to actually GET MY CAR IN THE SHOP and GET A RENTAL CAR ALREADY!!!
But today, after having a nice, restful weekend, I made the necessary phone calls and it's all set up. Wednesday morning I will drop off my MINI at Steve's Auto Clinic, and then get a ride to Enterprise Rent-a-Car, where they're gonna load me up with an Inifinity G35 (fully covered by the insurance, billed directly to them, thank-you-very-much!). It was between the Inifiniti and the Mercedes C-Class. Decisions, decisions!
The next day I will return said rental car and pick up my MINI, waiting for Steve to get the parts ordered. Then, once again, I'll get my MINI in the shop, get me a rental car, and motor in some luxury rental until my MINI is again the pristine vehicle it so deserves to be... worthy of the new Union Jack license plate frame Erik bought me as an early birthday present (thanks again, Erik!!).
See, I'm capable of finishing a personal task... really! Now, if I can only manage to get that hair appointment I so desperately require....
i'm totally freaking out right now. as i was driving home on the 5, a large bit of a debris - a large SUV-sized tire tread - hit my MINI square in the face. I could feel it hit the front and could hear it bump through the undercarriage. I got home as soon as I could, and as I walked to the front of my car, i was horrified to find a huge dent in my front bumper.
i'm so fucking angry and distraught right now. i've never hit anything like this before, and seeing my MINI out there like that just destroyed me. my back fucking went out, and i had a miserable time for most of the weekend becuase of it- i'm mildly upset that our road trip is going to need to be indefinitely postponed, and now... this. i just can't believe this.
Added on Wednesday morning:
Pics of the carnage... (click for larger)...
Ugh. It looks that, except for the underside of the bumper, which normally isn't visible, the bumper was only bent, and not cracked. It also seems to have come away from the body, as can be seen more in the side-view photo. Also, the mesh bit above the bottom bumper seems to have been pushed back a bit on the driver's-side.
Anyone have any clue if this type of thing is salvageable? If it needs to be replaced, any other unfortunate MINI owners out there have any experience with replacing these bits, and how much I might be looking at? My insurance deductible is $500, and I don't even know if they cover this sort of thing...
update - 10:35am
I called Steve at Steve's Auto Clinic to make first contact. I just emailed him the above photos for reference. Now, the wait for him to get back to me....
That's right! As I was driving into the Universal lot parking structure, listening to a remixed version of Bloc Party's "Helicopter", my MINI Cooper S "dinged" as the odometer digitally-clicked to the 10,000-mile mark.
5 months, 10,000 miles. Whew!
I really haven't had a single problem with my MINI. There are a couple of rattles, attributable to the loosely-installed cupholder and the kick-arse Harman Kardon sound system - both which can be easily fixed when I get my 10k servicing this weekend.
Let's see, what else? I'd like them to have a look at my brakes, only because the other day they felt weird as I was braking to a stop on a particularly-bumpy section of road - and about a month ago I had been hearing some slight squeals while braking (maybe 3 or 4 times).
But so far, the MINI is awesome. The only thing I'm not looking forward to in regards to this Saturday's service appointment is having to wake up at an ugodly hour to arrive there at 8am (my own fault, I opted for that timeslot), and the fact that my MINI is dirtier than it's ever been... ever.
I feel an overwhelming sense of shame about how dusty and grimy the exterior of my MINI is at the moment. The white spokes are literally caked with black brake dust. I noticed this morning that there were a couple of bird droppings splattered about. And overall, there is a fine layer of grime settled on the car - a result of not washing it for the past month.
I can't imagine a scenario in which I will have an opportunity to wash my MINI before Saturday morning, and I sincerely doubt that I have the gusto to wake up at dawn on that morning to hose down the offending grime from my poor MINI. So I will walk into Bob Smith BMW/MINI's servicing department with my head held low - and hope they forgive me my trespasses.
It is turning out to be an infinitely bad morning.
While driving into work this morning, I noticed severe discoloration on the front passenger-side headrest (black soft-leather seats) in my brand-new MINI, caused by the product in the hair of a co-worker who I taxi'd back from lunch yesterday.
After a couple of panic-attacks that nearly drove me to tears (and nearly into more than a few semis on the road), I arrived at work, and inspected the disaster more closely. The leather is not actually discolored, but it appears to be stained, and has caused the leather to become highly reflective, losing it's matte-like appearance. It looks... bad. The outlook... not good. Can you replace a leather headrest in a MINI?
To add insult to injury, when I went to take a sip from my water bottle at work just now, I inadvertently spilled the water all over my shirt. I now have a big water spot over my heart - about the size of an enlarged one, at that. Thank goodness I have a cubicle. I'll just hide in here until it dries. It could have been worse - it could have been slimey hair product.
Remind me to steer clear of any buses today.
Here's a snippet of info from the MINI yahoogroups email invite:
This is an open invitation to any Los Angeles/Orange County, or anywhere that you want to drive in from---the MINI club (c3--Cooper Club for Charities) I founded holds a once a month detailing clinic. We do this at my house, and the next meeting is this Saturday--Jan. 22. All MINI owners or soon to be MINI owners are welcome. You will get your MINI professionally detailed for free using Meguiar's products, and you'll be trained on the proper use of the tools. This is not an advanced class. If you pick up a power tool and turn it on, you are qualified. =)
Read more at http://c3club.org
One more time, you don't need to be a member of our club, there is no fee, it's just a bunch of MINI owners who like to keep their cars clean. Several members of this list attend these clinics already. Bring your car prewashed if possible. Food and beverages will be available. An MTH Cartune ECU Upload is also scheduled to be performed.
This is an article I wrote from last months meet.
Please let me know if you're interested in coming by email.
I'm pretty excited about learning how to properly care for my MINI, aesthetically. I emailed the host and he assured me that we'd be able to take care of my little leather problem. Plus I get to meet new MINI owners, which is always a plus.
This past Saturday I embarked on my first long-distance day-trip in my new MINI Cooper S. After more than a couple hours of sitting in a dealership service department (when, all told, the job should have taken maybe twenty minutes maximum), I was chomping at the bit to get out on the road.
It was a less-than-perfect start, as while the service department was swapping out my mirror caps, they managed to break both mirror glasses... and they only had one replacement mirror on hand. So I was left with a crack'd passenger-side wing mirror. Yay!
Secondly, I was starving... really, really hungry. I hadn't had anything solid to eat, and their super-sugary scrumptious hot chocolate managed to dig a raw hole in my stomach lining. And the effects of the sugar were having their way with my nervous system, inducing a steady shaky, sweaty feeling. Fun!
But I started out on the road nonetheless, eager to get out onto open road. Let me tell you prospective travelers of the 101 freeway something: open road and the 101 between Oxnard and Ventura should never be mentioned together. Oh, the traffic! But it eased up considerably as I transitioned to Highway 33 towards Ojai.
Only moments passed as the wind hit my proverbial sails did a bug go SPLAT! on my windshield. Ouch - it hurt me far more than it hurt the hapless insect, I'm sure. I jumped in shock and brief agony, and attempted to whisk away the smudge with my windshield washers, to no avail. Ah well. The trauma subsided as I kicked it into sixth gear and zoomed forward on the open road ahead of me with such happy, perfect ease.
Ojai was gorgeous. Some trees has turned to their winter yellows, and were a perfect contrast to the Łber-greens of the nearby grasses. The cloudless blue sky opened up over the hills. Ojai is such a cute, quaint little town. On this Saturday afternoon, city firefighters were amassed on street corners, holding out their big rubber boots, collecting money, as car after car dropped various amounts of bills and coinage into them.
A stop at Taco Bell solved my hunger crisis. Ew. Why do I do this to myself? Taco Bell is N-a-a-a-a-s-t-y! But they took my debit card, and my shakes ceased, so I guess that's all that matters.
Once I made that left-hand turn back onto the 33 out of Ojai, it was twisty fun for miles upon miles. Low in the canyons, the sun would be momentarily blocked by the surrounding trees, causing flashes of light and dark in the cabin. This flashing allowed another MINI Cooper (silver) to sneak up behind me. He was nipping at my heels, so I sped into a turnout, allowing his passage. He zoomed off, and disappeared far ahead me in the canyon. (Sigh...) Someday!
I ran into him again a couple miles up the road. He had pulled off the road and was going to turn back in the opposite direction. As I approached, I took part in my very first, official MINI to MINI wave. Oh, joyous occasion!
On road trips, I have a bad habit of not stopping to take pictures. Oh, you'd think I'd want to get out and snap off a few shots, but I always seem to forget... I get too caught up in the whole driving experience. but this being my first little excursion in the new car, I had to force myself to stop and take the obligatory MINI beauty shot.
I got back on the twisty, treacherous road (no guard rails, that I can remember!), and got stuck behind a pickup truck, well, truckin' along at a tired pace. Fine, whatever - I can't really get too crazy with the car yet (saving that for post-1250 miles), so I can kick back and take stock of the scenery.
Until the silver Porsche Boxster races up behind me. This guy was in a hurry. Not the mean-spirited "I'm late for my tee-time" sort of hurriedness, but a "come on, I wanna have some fun here!" impatience. And the truck continued on its pace. After a couple of miles he got the point, and he pulled out. I then kicked it into gear. I didn't want to have to sacrifice my passing-spot to the Porsche just yet, and I didn't want to be too much of a bother, so I "opened the MINI up", just a little.
I wanted to pull over. Really, I did! But there was no place to go but down here, and the Boxster was just pushing me and pushing me. I think I did a pretty respectable job in front of the Porsche, and quickly spread some dirt on the first turnout available.
The Porsche was G-O-N-E. I would've eaten his dust, but it had already settled by the time I got back on the road (think seconds, here). I talked myself into better spirits, though, self-righteously thinking that at least I would make it off this mountain alive... take that, damned Porsche!
Many miles later I came in contact with the Boxster again. No, I wasn't driving that fast - he was now traveling in the opposite direction. I was a little pleasantly surprised when he gave me a wave of good will as he passed. I like to think that he was giving me props for my spirited motoring (even if it was only momentarily). 'Twas a proud moment for me... I never received such friendliness in my beater '83 Honda.
The treacherous twisties gave way to less s heart attack-inducing roadway as I drove down the mountain. I decided to take a right at Lockwood Valley Road - it cut a beeline through the flatlands and foothills through to Frazier Park, and the 5 freeway. A little while later I was gassing up my MINI at a Chevron station off the 5, and headed back to Los Angeles.
But I couldn't return to Simi Valley just yet. No, somehow, the idea of sitting in stop-and-go traffic all the way to Whittier sounded like a far better idea. My grandparents live out there, so of course I wanted to show it off a bit. And come on, how bad can traffic be in a brand new MINI Cooper?
The day was capped with an evening viewing of the film Closer. Not a bad day, all-told. I've definitely caught the bug, though. No, not the number of bugs I had to wipe carefully from my chrome grill (heh), but the road-trip bug has infected me, and it's going to be really, really difficult to not drive up to San Francisco and beyond this next weekend...
So I'm sitting in the customer waiting area of Bob Smith MINI, waiting for my chrome mirror caps to be replaced by the new white ones I ordered (free of charge, of course - or, perhaps they added it into the "markup"). It's okay waiting. The internet access is nice, and the hot chocolate is to die for. Plus, my car needs a serious wash after the rains this week.
Some plans fell through for today, and it's so darned beautiful, so I think I'll take my first road trip... just a day trip, to be more accurate, but enough to put some serious mileage on my new MINI. I think I'm going to head up to Ojai and above. I've got my camera, a full tank of gas, and the desire to motor. Okay, better get back to more generalized net-surfing so as not to call attention to myself with my insanely fast typing.
Yes, this morning I was able to take the first daytime shots of my new MINI Cooper S. Isn't he gorgeous? (And yes, I've begun to anthropomorphize the car, wanna make something of it?)
I took delivery on my MINI Cooper S last night. It is the greatest thing ever. I had so much fun driving it. Even this morning, in traffic, I was grinning like a fool most of the ride in.
Last night I had those obligatory nightmares of worry: I dreamt that I was in a small car accident which left my MINI (now the size of a SUV, oddly), a bit banged up; I dreamt that the bonnet stripes (which, in reality, I wanted them to remove - and they didn't) were removed without my knowledge - and they did a shoddy job doing it.
This morning I walked out of the house and found Kitty's paw-prints on my bonnet. This, unfortunately, was not part of the stream of bad dreams. Bad Kitty, no Kitty! She was relaxing on the hood of my Dad's truck and I gave her a good stern talking to as I muttered obscenities under my breath (as it was early in the morning and I didn't want to alarm my neighbors).
My first faux-pax with the car occured this morning as well. I thought I'd be all cool and drop by Starbucks on the way in to work. All was fine and dandy until I entered the parking structure at work. It's amazing how you forget about those speedbumps, it really is!
Grande Gingerbread Latte With Whip flew from the cup's cap and landed treacherously on my passenger side leather seat. It was only a splatter, but I FREAKED OUT. I parked and used whatever cloth available (my jacket, the sleeve of my WHITE SHIRT) to soak up and remove the bit of coffee.
It was relatively dark in the parking structure, so I couldn't fully survey the damage done to the seat. It appears to be mild, and I couldn't SEE any evidence of coffee spillage left over when I left the MINI to fend for itself for the day... bit I know it's there. Damnit, I'm a dork. No more coffee in the morn for me.
Today should be filled with all sorts of trips out to the parking structure, to give co-workers a quick look at the MINI, and perhaps even a trip out at lunchtime, weather permitting.
Reindeer MINIs on parade in Atlanta. See more photos of the event here.
I did it. I purchased my MINI! I had the fortune of finding one that almost exactly matched my spec at Bob Smith MINI, and we hammered out all the details today, and I get to pick it up on Monday!! More info to come, obviously, but right now I'm starving!!
I just found out that my MINI was never ordered. I am devastated, to say the least.
When it gets really bad, I find myself having internal arguments:
(Me) Gollum: It's been over fifteen minutes, you should call him!
(Me) Smeagol: I mustn't call him, he will call when he wants to call.
Gollum: No! Call! He TOLD you he'd call you back!
Smeagol: All in good time.
Gollum: Aaaarrggggh! My MINI... my PRECIOUS... it will never get here!
Smeagol: You LIE! It WILL! IT MUST!!!
Gollum: No, he hasn't called back - that means it hasn't been ordered - he is playing with you like a cat with a mouse!
Smeagol: Not listening. Not listening!
Gollum: The MINI will never come!
Smeagol: Oh, you'd LIKE that, now, wouldn't you? Then you could mope around for years, muttering how you were robbed of your dream car - No! It wil be here when it is ready! Off, you!
... And so on, and so forth.
So the MINI salesguy is dicking me around, and I do not like to be toyed with in such a manner. He is consistent in only one thing: in telling me he's going to call on a certain day or by a certain time, and then totally NOT calling me within his timeframe.
I'm sitting here salivating over the
imminent? probable? questionable arrival of my new 2005 Electric Blue MINI Cooper S, and this guy couldn't be bothered to throw me a frickin' bone. (Wow, the penis-innuendo is just flying in this rant, isn't it?) I was told the car was ordered TWO MONTHS AGO, with a promise of a production number for tracking within a week or so, and I still have no solid information.
At the beginning of November, I started to get listless about it and called. I was then told that the car was expected the third week of November. The week before the "third week of November", I shopped around for finance rates and got a very low rate approved and secured. Problem is: the financing deal expires if I don't take delivery by December 20th, and I would have to reapply. Those who know anything about credit scores and all that know that, when you shop around for rates, every time someone checks your credit report (at your request), you get a little ding on the report, thusly lowering your score. So my credit score is now LOWER than it was the day I applied for a loan, so who knows what kind of rate I'll get if I have to reapply.
PLUS! My Honda died at the beginning of November, and I've been either carpooling to work, or borrowing my brother's car to get around. It's not like I'm being overly-anxious for the sake of being overly-anxious. I DON'T HAVE A FREAKIN' CAR!!
So yesterday afternoon, I explain to the MINI-salesman my dilemma (about the not having a car thing, and needing SOME kind of concrete information), and he PROMISED me that he would find out some info for me, and call me before 6pm. This is hours AFTER he wouldn't take my call, explaining that he was "on the other line" with the other guy who HAS the information. What happened with that? Fucking liar.
Anyhow, 6pm came and went. No call. What a bastard! It's not like I'm BUYING A $25,000 FROM THEM OR ANYTHING! I guess my money is just no good.
Okay, that's it. I'm not going to stress anymore, I'm not going to worry about what I cannot control. But lemme tell you, this guy is going to get a stern call from me a little bit later on in the day.
UPDATE: 11:30am -- Just called the guy on his cellphone. He said he had forgot completely about it and apologized. Said he would call the other guy and call me back in fifteen minutes. I asked if there was some way I could call the other guy directly - and he responded in the negative, saying that that was a "no-no". Whatever... any bets on whether or not he'll actually call after fifteen minutes? Bah.
Knowing that I am merely weeks away from being united with my brand new MINI Cooper has made me c-c-cah-RAY-zay! It's become like a MAD TV skit that doesn't know when to end. I spend FAR too much time at work looking at the various MINI blogs, user forums, and news outlets. My co-workers and friends are all sick to death of my endless MINI-talk.I'm sick to death of my endless MINI-talk!
One would think I would have nothing else to think about with it: it's somewhere on its way, I have the financing and insurance pretty much square and I'm more than ready to take delivery on it - but noooo... not nearly enough. It's a strange psychological state to be in - this constant need of MINI-anything. If work weren't so damned slow right now, I might be able to wash the thoughts away for fifteen minutes or so.
It's pathetic really, how this car has encapsulated my entire being. I'm already planning a small set of modifications, looking up road trip destinations, and daydreaming about how cool it will be once I have the car in my possession.
I think I need professional help.
The financing on my expected MINI Cooper is all taken care of, thanks to the folks at Household Auto Finance. I locked in a sweet low rate - much lower than my credit union offered me (the bastards!). And I already have my check in-hand. Weeee!
I have never purchased a brand new car before - plus, I've never financed a car before - so the whole contract stuff is rather intimidating. I've verified that it's a fixed APR, computed in the "simple interest" method, and that there are no prepayment penalties. All of that is good, or so I've been told.
The last two nights I've awakened to thought of interest rates. I have this unnecessary foreboding feeling about it. It's a learned response to things I haven't a clue about, I suppose. I'm sure everything is fine. I even spoke to my aunt (who works in the finance dept. at the dealership), and she said that Household was a good lender. Couple that with the fact that my loan sales rep, Angeline, couldn't be nicer or more helpful, and I shouldn't really be worrying at all, should I?
Anyhow, now I'm pretty much just playing the proverbial waiting game. All my ducks are more or less in a row. The car is on its way. Where it is precisely, I don't know - but at this point I should be concerning myself with other things, like what I want to eat for lunch, 'cuz I guess two bowls of Count Chocula in the morning just isn't cutting it - I'm starving!!
A call from my aunt just confirmed that my new 2005 MINI Cooper S is due the third week of November. That's in two weeks people!! OMG!!
The wait for my MINI Cooper is driving me mad.
So, as I mentioned previously, my '83 Honda Civic died a tragic death this past Tuesday (along with my dream of ousting Bush, ugh), when it "blew two cylinders". I quoted that because I haven't a clue what the mechanic was talking about. But I knew one thing: the prognosis was grave.
I limped home in my embattled car - it was a scary drive home. My car lost power, or "bottomed out", about thirty to forty times. My right foot had to stay put on the accelerator in an effort to give it a continuous-enough amount of gas so that it wouldn't stop running. My left foot spent nearly the entire 40-mile drive home riding the clutch, as the traffic was nightmarishly bad along the 170 transition to the 5. I could smell the burning. It wasn't pretty.
I parked the car in front of my Dad's house and spent the rest of the evening with a frown on my face. I was tired, I was heartbroken, and I was ready to take a long nap.
Anyways. Moving on. There's now a new urgency in my quest to acquire my new car. The 2005 MINI Cooper is on order, I know that much for sure. But as to when I will receive it, or where it's at along the standard build queue, I haven't a faint idea.
I called my aunt, the touchstone person in the whole car-order thing, to inform her of my Honda's recent demise. The Honda used to belong to her, and she sold it to me back in 1996 when the transmission fell out of my '80 Datsun.
Funny how we're connected by blood and by motor oil, so to speak.
I'm patiently awaiting her return call this afternoon. The buyer at the dealership she works at (and the person who apparently set up the order) is expected in the office sometime this afternoon - and I hope to get any sort of solid information for the car's estimated arrival - a date, a production number - I'll take whatever he's got. This may end up being the longest Friday afternoon I've had to endure in recent memory...
I've been sick, but I can feel myself getting back in the swing of things. The pain in my ear flares up, then goes away, then flares up, then goes away. This morning it was really bad. But as of now it has subsided dramatically.
My symptoms of sickness: dizziness, stuffiness, muscle aches, sinus pressure, overwhelming phlegminess and accompanying nausea have almost all gone away - and now I'm left with a very slight post-nasal drip, a lingering cough and a sexy, deep voice. So, yeah, I'm getting better.
Other things are looking much better as well. My obsessive drive to get a new MINI Cooper has led me to get my finances in the best shape they've been in in nearly 7 years - perhaps ever. I called my credit union to get an update on the credit score tiers they use for their auto loans - and I've gone from an approval on a 4th-tier rate to a score that would secure me a 1st-tier (and much, much lower) rate. Quel plaisir!
I've been very conscientious about saving as well - and have successfully paid off all of my credit cards. I now have well-enough saved for a nice large down payment on the car. I'm actually rather (gulp) proud of my disciplined savings, and will continue saving after receipt of my car. If I can save up over $6000 in just under a year (while paying down $3000 worth of debt), a condo just might be available to my budget in about five years' time.
And lastly, I just called my aunt - the production number for my ordered MINI is imminent - perhaps even later today! ((crosses fingers)) The only thing that would top this off is finding out that my MINI is in production and slated to get here very, very soon. A girl can dream.
So today, we should all try to focus on those things going well in our lives, because as most days are wearisome and stressful, we could all use some time spent reflecting on the good things (like being able to vote GWB out of office in a week - yay!)
Today has been crazy, that much is clear - and when things get bad-crazy my mind starts to dredge up all the other bad stuff that could go wrong. One of the things central in my worrying lately has been getting a new car - more specifically, a new Mini Cooper S. My aunt works at a dealership in downtown L.A., and as of yet, they hadn't wanted to give me the car for anything under $2000 over the MSRP.
But, my aunt's been working them for me, trying to get them down. And I've been calling her back and forth trying to get updates. Well, I called her this afternoon, and the first thing she said to me was "It's Ordered."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Apparently, they've ordered it through a dealership in Boston, and that dealership is going to do a "courtesy ship" out to L.A., saving me at least $1200 in shipping charges. And what's more - when I asked how much it was going to cost, she said "probably a little under MSRP"... under MSRP!!!
Oi! So the guy who coordinated this whole thing was not in today, but when he comes back next week my aunt is going to get all the info from him, like the production number (so I can determine about when I will be receiving the car) and purchase price. Very exciting!!
The deliberations have been treacherous, full of second guessing. But I've finally nailed it down:
Color: Electric Blue with white roof & mirrors
Wheels: 16" X-Lites with white wheels (for a smoother ride)
Options: Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Cordoba Beige Leather Seats, Automatic A/C, Sensing Wipers/Auto-Dim Mirror, Front Fog Lamps, Xenon Headlights w/Power Wash, S-Style Sport Multifunction Steering Wheel.
The only option I have yet to decide about is the 8-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system. The MCS comes standard with a 6-speaker am/fm CD player, but my only experience with the stereo system of the MINI has been with the H/K system. I'll have to get inside a couple of models at the dealership to see if the lesser of the two will work - because the Harman Kardon system packs another $550 onto the sticker price.
I called the Motoring Advisor at my MINI dealer of choice today, and he said that he doesn't imagine they'll be able to take custom orders until August.. argh - this means I could have to wait until close to the end of the year before I'm driving this thing to work everyday, but that's okay - the longer the wait, the more I'm able to offset the monthly payments with a larger down payment, woo.
It appears my car (í83 Honda Civic) has caught on to my evil plan to replace it with a Mini Cooper. While it may be difficult to tell (as I havenít washed it in years), I like my current car very much. Itís small and speedy, runs very well, and has had no significant problems, i.e., it hasnít totally crapped out on me yet.
But since my desire for a MiniCooper has grown to the serious/plan-to-purchase stage, Iíve had some difficulties with my old pal, the Honda. Every two years, my car requires a smog check. All California cars do, but my car is a repeat smog-offender and always has trouble passing smog (which means I always have to pay up to get it fixed). Normally this is no problem for me Ė I pony up one- to two-hundred dollars and the fixes are completed and the car is passed. This year that has not been the case. Iíve been dealing with my smog check woes since last November, peopleÖ Novermber! My car has been in the shop two to three times per week for the last month or so trying to get it to pass.
Last Friday, when picking it up from the shop, the owner made me promise to get a new driverís side-rear tire. I shrugged my shoulders and said, ďSure, when I can afford it!Ē But he became very stern and said, ďYOU MUST PROMISE ME YOUíLL GET A NEW TIRE, PRONTO!Ē
Geez louise, okay Dad!, (I thought), but then when I trekked back to the car, I did notice that the back left tire was ripped, not enough to cause the tire to be flat, but it was definitely suffering from a huge tear. I called up JustTires and got a quote for a $25 tire and made my way over to the facility after work.
I went to JustTires with every intention to get JustOneTire, but Iím such a pushover that they talked me into getting four new tires and to have my carís alignment fixed (I knew it was way off anyways). So I dropped $200 for 4 new 13Ē tires and a front-end alignment Ė ugh. I noticed that turning the car was way easier, but as I drove into work this morning I felt the car sort of pulling into every different direction Ė maybe itís just a figment of my imagination, or Iím so used to compensating for the misalignment that it just seems weird, or maybe they just did a shoddy job. Who knows.
The spending on my Honda seems to have skyrocketed since Iíve become really truly serious about buying a new car Ė it doesnít want me to replace it with a newer, younger, shinier car Ė and the costs donít seem to be ending anytime soon. I have to get an oil change, one of my headlights is outÖ itís just silly. If it makes the Honda feel any better, I'm planning on giving it to my younger brother when my new car arrives.
So, I've been totally obsessing over my upcoming purchase of a MINI Cooper S. Last weekend I even rented a model for an extended test-drive (to the tune of $300, thank you very much). And of course I had a blast. I went to the dealership the weekend before for my first test-drive and to see if they had anything I wanted to buy on-the-spot. They didn't. But that was good, because I've decided to wait to purchase a 2005 model. If anything it gives me at least a couple more months of saving time. And a couple more months to get my credit back into gear.
The issue of my credit has been of concern to me for over 7 years - mainly because a little over 7 years ago I had a major health issue which caused me to not only rack up several thousand dollars of uninsured medical debt, but also caused me to default on several monthly payments. It's hard when you fall that behind, because the endless creditor calls always seems to nix the feeling of getting back on track.
In any case, my credit has been far from perfect for the last 7 years and I've gone through more credit rejections than I'd care to remember. But now that I'm seriously in the market for a car, my credit has come to the forefront.
And I'm doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. I've already paid off the entire balances on two of my credit lines, and have three more that I'm planning on putting serious dents into within the next few months. I'm pretty proud to say that I have just over $2000 of total revolving credit balances on those three remaining cards and my current plan is to halve that over the next three months.
I just checked my credit score online. A few weeks ago it was, well, I won't be specific, but I just checked again today and it went up 16 points (and that doesn't even reflect any of the balance pay-downs I've done so far). So, I'm pretty excited about increasing the possibility of getting a lower finance rate over the next few months, and just thought I'd share. Oh yeah, and I'm very excited about getting a new MINI by the end of the year. Stay tuned for several polls about how I should spec it.
So I just walked back from the lot credit union, after having submitted my auto loan application. I don't know if it's the nerves I have putting in for a loan or the warm April morning (and me wearing a turtleneck? stupid. stupid.), but there's a nice set of beads of sweat on my forehead.
Last night, visions of credit scores danced in my head. I tossed and turned throughout the night, and dreamt of a gameshow wherein one's credit rating could rise or plummet at the gamble of a "No whammies... no whammies... STOP!" "Ooooh, your credit just hit 400, que lastima!"
My mind is totally wrapped up in the purchase of a new car (see previous entry), and everything that goes along with it. My stress level has undoubtedly increased to near-spastic levels. And my heart hasn't slowed since my thoughtful march back from the credit union.
You see, me and credit checks are NOT the two great tastes that taste great together. No, credit checks usually leave me in a painful wake of rejection. DENIED! I had to jump through hoops to get even a student loan.
A previous attempt at purchasing a car left me to ponder the idea of an 18% APR on an $18,000 loan. 18%!?! For a car loan. It's been a few years since then and my credit has gotten better, but it's still only "Fair" at best.
But I can always refinance.
That's the saving grace, isn't it? An auto loan would do something very interesting to my credit... it would make it better. Isn't that strangely fantastic? The mere act of acquiring a hefty loan would increase my score at least a couple of points. And then, in a year or so, when all my credit cards are paid off and I have an on-time car payment history, I can refinance for a lower rate.
I don't feel so stressed anymore. Now I'll just keep my fingers and toes and eyes crossed for the rest of the day, sweat it out tonight, and hope I receive the fateful call before the end of the work week.
update - 11:23am - I just received the call that my application has been approved - 12.5% APR - now to see if the dealership can beat the rate!
Okay, I need to stop and BREATHE. I'm obsessing about getting a new car. What new car, you ask? The only new car I would consider purchasing.... the Mini Cooper!
Well, the Mini Cooper S model, to be more specific. My old '83 Honda Civic is in smog hell right now, so much so that I think it would take several hundred dollars to get it back up to spec and driving around nicely. The problems may just be the final catalyst for me to put the old car out to pasture and get a new car.
I've had my eye on the newer MINI's for at least a couple years now - even before they hit the market, as my aunt (who, conveniently, works at a BMW dealership) mentioned I would look good in a MiniCooper. I was online the next day and fell in love.
My obsession with the vehicle has come and gone in phases, but now it's kicked into overdrive. I'm on MINI forums and checking out the MINI website nearly everyday designing my dream car. I've gone to the credit union at work and retrieved an application for a car loan, I'm even considering drawing funds out of my IRA to bolster my down payment amount. I've been on several auto loan finance calculator websites and called my insurance company for a quote.
I know exactly which options I want and which I don't need. I've decided that I prefer the body-type and power of the "S" model over the standard model. I even found a cool site that manufactures custom gear shift knobs (I'm especially fond of this custom knob).
Financing is going to be the first major hurdle. My credit is not perfect, and while I've bettered my credit rating by leaps and bounds, I'm still only average - and considered a "risk". From some early information from the credit union loan advisor, I could be looking at an APR of anywhere from 8 to 12.5%. Yikes.
Second major hurdle - finding the MINI I want. I'm a bit lucky in that my aunt works at a BMW/MINI dealership and I am, from what she's told me, able to receive a family discount at the lot. But MINI's are, from what I've gathered, difficult to come by. Unless I'm lucky enough to find one of the two colors I desire in stock at the lot, I could be looking at a wait of several months. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the lot has a good inventory selection currently. I would rather not patronize another lot unless I absolutely had to.
Third obstacle is the down payment. I have what would translate to an 8% down payment in savings right now. Not the greatest. I could spend nearly half that to fix my current car, or I could withdraw three or four thousand from my IRA and have a more than reasonable monthly loan payment. I am not currently contributing to this IRA anyways, as it is a rollover account from a previous 401K plan. I would receive a 10% penalty PLUS be responsible for income taxes on the amount withdrawn - but since I don't plan on withdrawing the entire emount, I'm not so worried about that. I will still have funds left to withdraw towards a down payment on a home (yeah right, like that'll ever happen!), and I currently have a pension plan through work. And I'm relatively young. Can you tell that I'm trying to make myself believe that that's an o-kay idea??
The fourth, and (hopefully) final obstacle is me. I have a predisposition of being irresolute, and I'm not the best at decision-making (don't tell my bosses). A few years ago, I was <----- this close -----> to purchasing a new Honda, but walked away because I wasn't 100% certain of the purchase. Many people have told me that's a good thing - exactly what someone should do in this sort of purchase environment. But, I feel it might hold me back from ever dropping the thousands and thousands of dollars a new car requires. Also, I have a bond with my old Honda. I haven't named the car or anthropomorphize her in any way (wink), but I tend to grow too attached to my belongings. The thought of turning the car in for the $400 or so the state would give me to junk it turns my stomach. I'd much rather pass it down to my youngest brother for when he needs a car (really, it's an awesome car, just needs several hundred dollars worth of work and then it's vrooming).
(Sigh...) I need to get back to work now, but if anyone has any first-time car buyer experience or advice to share about anything in the vehicle ownership realm, I'm all ears!