I have been a car fanatic for as long as I can remember. My family comes from Detroit, so there has always been a strong connection to American muscle cars. My dad has given me the opportunity to work on a variety of project cars over the past 20 years. First was a Z28 Camaro, years later we moved onto a drag ready Chevy C10 pickup and now we’re working on his Volvo 240D. I have always wanted a car that was fun to drive and that I could work on improving. My 1998 Ford Explorer had never hit the mark.
This past year I have been drooling over the possibility of buying a new car. I’ve read hundreds of reviews and created a spreadsheet with all manor of data featuring my top 50 cars. They ranged from a Porsche 718 to a Subaru BRZ. I looked at everything except Mini. I didn’t have anything against Mini, it’s just that my mom drives a 2006 Mini Cooper S.
My friend Ali told me she was moving to San Francisco and that she would be selling her Mini. You can imagine my surprise when I quickly asked, “Can I buy it?”. Absolutely no thought went into this purchase, but I don’t regret my impulsive decision for moment.
The car actually makes a lot of sense for me. I need room to pack in a bunch of film equipment for shoots, all-wheel drive for going up Mt. Hood and running through the occasional snow in Portland. 28-MPG means I’m saving $200 a month on fuel over my Explorer. It’s extremely practical, but is it fun? Well just from looking at it, I think you can figure that out.
I picked the car up on Friday night, after a goodbye party for Ali. The next morning I took it out for a 200-mile jog through the Columbia River Gorge. It was raining hard in sections and the fog grew so thick that I had to slow down to 30MPH on Historic HWY 30. The twisty road leading up to Vista House was completely empty at 8am. I put the manual transmission in second-gear and screamed around the first bend before diving into third. From behind the wheel, I’ve never experienced a car like this before. I’m usually sitting in the passenger seat while a professional tosses us around a corner. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, but one look at the smile on my face will tell you all you need to know. This was my car, this was the experience that I had been longing for since I was a kid. It was so worth the wait!
Feeling a little more confident in my operation of a manual gearbox, I really went for it in the exits. A couple of straights were long enough to get into fourth-gear before squeezing the brakes and dropping down to second for the exit. I could have driven all day like that.