Occasionally I see a very nice condition E46 coupe around town and miss my car… At the same time, the practical side of me tells myself that it was a wise decision to sell all the cars. The logical (head) side had won over the passionate (heart) side.
However, having a car in the city is something nice to have. In the past few years, I’ve been using my sister’s car as well as my Celica for the weekends. The Celica is now over 20 years old and as with any old car, especially one that is not driven on a daily basis, it is starting to need attention. It’s not a get-in-and-drive-then-park-it kind of car that I can depend on at all times…
In my experience with using Zip Car, it’s a viable alternative, but it has two major problems: 1) weekend availability of cars in the Manhattan is very low: you literally have to book months in advance to have a car on the weekends; and 2) financially, in the long run, it’s actually not that cheap.
I ran the numbers, based on the days and miles that I drive and it’s actually cheaper to lease a comparable car (which is essentially a rental anyway) if parking is not factored in. In my few years of living/driving in the city, I found parking solutions that are very cheap, so I am factoring that into my math. And in the long run, buying a car (with financing) is the cheapest option. Buying is always better than leasing for me (given how much miles I drive, how well I maintain my cars, and the fact that I keep cars for a long time). Buying a slightly used car is probably the best option overall. So yeah, I did all the math and even my wife doesn’t disagree (she’s sat in the car too many times when it wouldn’t start or it would stall or other embarrassing moments).
So I’m car shopping again… I’m torn, though. What we really need is a reliable practical car. What I don’t want to drive is a boring practical car. Damn it, the head vs. heart fight again! I really want a MKIII MR2 Spyder! But yeah, not very practical is it…? Okay, so where do I look? No late model cars really excite me. Maybe a BMW?
BMW that is practical– how about a wagon? :))) Then my heart goes: yeah, a stick shift wagon would be awesome! M5 touring, wooooot!!!! Then I come back down to earth: Okay, what are my options?
Did you know that the new 328i wagons don’t come in manual any more? I didn’t know until I was half-way through the “Build My Car” pages on the website when I realized it never asked me for a transmission choice of row your own gears or slushbox… Grrr.
Okay, I know wagons are very unpopular in the USA. But hear me out, BMW: the only people buying sport wagons in the USA are enthusiasts and wagon fans. “Regular” people will just get an SUV like everyone else. Wagons are special because they have car driving dynamics, looks like a car (sedan) but has extra room in the back trunk. Enthusiasts usually want to row their own gears. I know DCT and whatever F1 technology you want to put into the cars can shift faster. But I’m not out to put down the fastest lap times in a wagon or a sedan or a big coupe for that matter. I want to enjoy driving, and part of that enjoyment is rowing my own gears, hitting that perfect heel-and-toe double-clutch rev-matching downshift as I brake into a corner at high speeds, late braking, hitting the apex and tracking out… BMWs have always been special in that they offered manual on all their cars from the 3 to the 5 series (compact to medium sized cars). That’s why you don’t buy a Mercedes, cos they don’t do manual and their customer base is different. If my option is limited to just a slushbox, then you’re making me cross-shop with a Mercedes (like the E350 Wagon (and then my heart goes, “E63 AMG Wagon!!!!!))…
In any case, that was a true bummer. So I stopped half-way through my “Build My Car” and researched and found that the last generation, the E91, was still available in manual. Then I go do a search for CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) inventory in the USA on the BMW site. LOL. A whooping total of 3 wagons in manual comes up. One in Hawaii, one in Pennsylvania, one in Vermont… ><
And so the story continues…