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My car

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Weekly weigh-in: 246

Down 2 pounds from last week. I figure that tracking my weight here will help keep me motivated to stay on the wagon.

Anyway, this is my car:

It's a '93 Mazda Protege, which I bought in 1996, and have since put over 100K miles on (it's at 160K now). The car has served me well, but it's starting to have a wide range of problems that I really don't want to spend money to fix.

This past summer, I started looking for a replacement. I've wanted a roadster since I was a teenager, so I was looking at the BMW Z3 (which I like better than the newer Z4), Audi TT Roadster, and Chrysler Crossfire. But after a few test drives, my wife pointed out to me that I really needed to get something with more than 2 seats, since we have 5 kids, and I regularly have to pick more than one of them up while she has our minivan.

Fine, I started the search for an alternative. I really want something that I'm going to enjoy driving, so I came up with several criteria:
  • It has to be sporty. I don't need a rocket, but I want something that can move when I feel like it.
  • It has to be somewhat unique. I don't want something that looks like every other car on the road.
  • It has to be convertible.
  • It has to have a back seat.
  • It has to cost < $30K.
So I spent months looking for a car that fit these criteria, with little luck. Everything I looked at failed one or more criteria. I was beginning to feel that I was going to have to settle for something less than ideal, until I went to London.

There, I saw a car that I'd looked at before, and really liked, but passed over because it wasn't convertible. Except that the the one I saw was convertible. Turns out they had just come out with them, and they hadn't yet appeared in the states.

I went back home, did some research, read some reviews, and came to the conclusion that this car was exactly what I wanted. Last week, I paid my deposit and ordered a MINI Cooper S Convertible.

Buying a MINI ended up being more complicated than expected. There's only one MINI dealer in San Diego, and they charge $4-5,000 over MSRP (which is already $1-2K over invoice). There are a few dealers in LA that charge MSRP, but they have really long waiting lists (up to 12 months). Checking out some MINI driver forums, I found out that the prevailing recommendation among SoCal MINI owners was to buy your MINI out of state, and then either ship it or fly out and drive it back.

I did some more research and found out that the MINI dealer where I used to live (Salt Lake City) has a really good reputation and charges MSRP, so I ordered it from there. I'm still going to have to wait until late Jan/early Feb to pick it up, but that's much better than if I had ordered in LA. And the drive back should be fun.

In the meantime, here's hoping that my Mazda holds up for another 3 months.
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