The unusually wet summer has not been kind to our convertible. Twelve inches of rain in one week wreaks havoc on an un-garaged vehicle that already had leaky seals. When we got back from Florida the car was drenched, and all of the electrical systems were fried. It was finally time to look at a replacement.
Laura had named the 2004 Audi A4 “Audrey”. She has a habit of naming her cars, and this one was no different. Laura loved the car, even though it was a pain for most of the time that we owned it. The trunk leaked the whole time, and there were a variety of other problems. However, it was a zippy car, it looked great, and when it was running right it was a joy to drive. I can understand Laura getting upset when we knew it was time for it to go. It’s almost like making the decision to put down a beloved pet.
We have lots of good memories of that car. We bought it in 2004 specifically to drive across country. This very blog was created to document that trip, so the history of RandomConnections is closely tied to the Audi. We drove it from our home in Greenville to Laura’s mom’s house, two hours north of Seattle, Washington. We stopped at lots of national parks and other scenic places along the way. Laura’s favorite memory of the car is driving through Yellowstone with the top back in a light snowfall. Ultimately, the car would have been driven diagonally across country, from Key West to the extreme Northwest. Even so, it had under 100K miles when we traded it in.
This past week we have been test-driving new cars. We had several options. We weren’t sure if we wanted another convertible, or if something with a big sunroof would do. Laura didn’t want something big. It had to be sporty, and she wanted something that would make a statement.
First we test drove one of the Fiat 500c convertibles. It was OK – tiny on the outside, but with room enough inside. To me it seemed a bit underpowered. We looked at a Subaru Impreza, but decided that it was too much like my Outback. Eventually we wound up at the Mini Cooper place where we test drove both a racing green Mini Hardtop with a sunroof, and a Mini Clubman. Laura like the roominess of the Clubman, but really loved the sportiness and color of the Hardtop. Yet, it still didn’t seem quite right.
The Honda Civic had lots of cool options, but overall it seemed kind of…blah. It made no statement. The Hyundai place was even worse. As we looked at the small sporty cars, the salesman came up and asked if we were considering this for a grandchild. What an idiot. Both the Honda and Hyundai salesmen were high-pressure, wanting us to walk out with a car right then and there.
We eventually made it back to the Fiat place. We wanted to drive the car on the Interstate to see how it would do. As we drove at highway speeds, the side mirrors were fluttering – not a good sign. It got up to speed OK, but felt woefully underpowered.
Having just driven the Fiat, we drove straight over to the Mini place for a direct comparison. This time we picked a red convertible. There was absolutely no comparison. Laura said she had finally found a car that made her feel happy. It reminded her of the red Triumph TR3 her dad had when she was growing up.
We put down a deposit to hold it. We were going to sleep on the decision, but I was pretty sure that the next day we would have a new car.
The next day we managed to get the Audi started and drove it over to the Mini dealer. Surprisingly, they made us a good trade-in offer on it. This was really going to happen. Laura said her goodbyes to Audi, and after an excruciatingly long process, we had a new red Mini Cooper Convertible.
The car is red with white racing stripes. It’s a blast to drive, and I have to admit I’m jealous that Laura will be the one driving it on a daily basis. We’ve taken it to get groceries once just to make sure we could do it. We hope to christen it with a long road trip in a couple of weeks. Maybe by that time Laura will have come up with a suitable name for this car.