My Tiny Car

WOW!  I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but here it is:

I love my little car!

That’s right, world!  Julie.. THE Julie Brinkman.. THE hot-rod-go-fast-girl.

I love my Ford Fiesta!

And I promise they’re not paying me to say that either.  This has been a realization that was slow going, too.  In Psychology there is a behavior called the mere-exposure effect or familiarity principle.  The more you’re around or exposed to something, the more attractive it becomes.  I don’t think that is completely true in this case.  Maybe to some degree, but in all honesty I believe this has more to do with maturity and practicality.

You see, I grew up with a hot-rod loving father.  He always loved fast cars, and I loved hanging out with my dad, so it was only natural I picked up on many of his likes and preferences including go-fast cars.  I wasn’t the type to dive into the engine bay, I enjoy acceleration, I appreciate handling and I respect solid engineering.  The lineage of my car ownership:

1997 Nissan Altima, 1995 Nissan 300ZX, 1989 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am, 2001 Ford Focus, 2002 Mercury Mountaineer, 2007 Ford Fusion, 2008 BMW 535i, 2012 BMW X5

Car ownership represented different stages and situations in my life.  My dad had leased the Altima for me expecting me to drive it, except I didn’t till I was 18.  Once the lease was up, he graciously “gave” me the Z as my daily driver, which I used for a couple of years.  I then became obsessed with a go-fast car (and the Z was naturally aspirated so it was limited) and financed a 1989 TTA like my dad’s that I found at a classic car dealership.  My ex-husband and I were hitting some financial lows, and I regrettably allowed the bank to take it back (and they sold it as a Firebird!!!!!!!!!) and I was back in the Z.

Once I was pregnant with Max, the Z wasn’t going to cut it and barely got by with Trey’s carseat in the +2 so I traded my dad the Z for the extra Focus he had.  During the peak of the real estate bubble I sold my house, and one of the things I bought with the equity was paying for a used Mountaineer.  That became the Julie-mobile for several years and I really miss the things I could get away with that I cannot do with the X5 (i.e., drive over curbs on purpose)… but that poor SUV had issues from the get-go that didn’t seem too bad (weird transmission) and after 3 years I ended up trading it in and leasing a Fusion.  This was quite a dramatic change in MPGs, because while it wasn’t the must fuel efficient car, it was definitely more efficient than the Z, old Focus and the Mountaineer!

When the lease was up with the Fusion and I was considering the latest year, my dear sweet Chris wanted to get me a 5-Series BMW.  We started looking at older 528i’s and then it evolved into Sport Package 525i’s.  We found the one, in the exact color I wanted (Space Gray) and SMOKE-freakin-FREE in Calabasas.  Chris negotiated with the guy and we headed down, drove it, and signed papers!  I was ecstatic!  The car was beautiful and drove like a dream.  It was so spacious, too!  …but then we started having some issues involving the fuel injectors.  Then it totally died on our way home from the beach, then they had to drop the engine and replace both turbos, then another fuel injector failed.  It got to the point Chris called BMW USA and was ready to yell at them about just replacing ALL the injectors rather than as they failed.  Their response: “We’d like to buy it back from you, and refund you your payments since the first incident,”

Holy crap.

Well, this is already a whole lot of not-about-the-Fiesta so I’ll skip over to say: Chris wanted to get a 528i (no turbo, less problems) and I wanted to upgrade to a SUV because I have a short-girl ego ;)  No really, I hate not seeing over vehicles.  So we ended up getting the X5 we have today.  And I looooove it! Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful SUV that is FUN to drive (not as turn-hugful as the 535i or of course his M3) but I was SHOCKED how many miles I drive and not to mention the $85 fill-ups every week.

So I randomly sent Chris a text of the promotion from the Ford dealership that had the Ford Fiesta for $69/mo lease. I actually sent it to him for his use since his Subaru (which is still going) is getting up there in mileage.  We ended up getting it for ME instead — because it was FREE.

Seriously.

It comes out to $4000 for 2 years.  The amount of GAS we save by preserving the X5 for weekends and special occasions PAYS for the Fiesta, and then some.  EVEN fueling the Fiesta and paying for car insurance, we’re still ahead $20 or so a month!  It was insane.  So that was just the first bit to like.

And trust me, my pride took a hit and I am not going to lie.  And it makes weird clunky noises sometimes that isn’t faulty, but just part of driving a sub-$20k car. I do however, appreciate some things about it that I don’t think I liked in other subcompact cars.  For one, the transmission is configured to give it a little more torque off the line.  This is good because one thing I LOATHE about regular cars and especially compacts and below is the LULL when you just want to go.  While the Fiesta lacks much horsepower, this little bit of tweaking helps give the Fiesta some illusion of power when you want to overtake other vehicles, too.

Second, it actually has space.  I mean, it is a subcompact, not a clown car, but the kids can fit that back okay (Trey is starting to get too tall, but he can sit in the front now) and when I go out of town there is plenty of room for our luggage and the back seat collapses in two places so we have successfully transported a midsize mountain bike with a trunk full of luggage :)

Third, IT FITS.  I can pretty much park ANYWHERE which has seriously helped my stress levels in the world.  I really hate crappy parkers (and drivers) and even if both sides of a spot are parked on the line I can get out without touching anyone else’s doors!  Trader Joe’s has the W O R S T parking spots in town, second to my favorite eatery (Flame & Skewer’s) and both places, I have no problem in the Fiesta.

So yep. The Fiesta has served as a form of humbling for me. I’ve learned that I can, infact, survive with a subcompact day-to-day. That it is AWESOME to fill up every 10 days for under $40, and I CAN PARK ANYWHERE.  With Chris and my current life goals, this reconditioning will benefit us greatly.

And that is why I can say something today, that I couldn’t two years ago:

I love my powerless, tiny car!

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