Sunday, April 26, 2009

My new ride

I know I got it on Friday but I've been so busy loving my new car that I haven't had a chance to share with my two followers.

The Flex caught my eye about a year or so ago when I first saw it reviewed in most of the car magazines I read religiously. I've always been a fan of cool family haulers and there hasn't been a decent wagon on the market (including the Magnum which I almost considered) since the Vista Cruiser. I always figured I'd have to concede in one way or another with what would ultimately be our permanent family car though it's still just the two of us. You can imagine my disappointment when the MSRP was revealed. So much for me even getting a stripper (no options) which I've pretty much always bought.

Fast forward to one year later. The Big Three are in dire straights along with every other automaker. Ford has been fortunate enough to restructure back in 2006 so they're actually able to develop new products rather than stretch their existing model lines. Am I boring you yet? I thought so. Let's explore my fascination with ridiculous cars.

When I was very young I loved exotics like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc. but as I grew older I developed a fondness for muscle cars. You can imagine when I finally got the keys to one when I was 20. I specifically liked sleepers which are cars you would never guess were hot cars. It wasn't uncommon for a builder to put one of their performance engines in a large sedan just for the heck of it. Somewhere along the way I discovered the beauty of these monstrosities without the extra muscle. I still liked coupes and the like but I still found myself taking long looks at family cars. I even started eyeballing minivans. Lots of seats, cup holders, and storage bins. Drool. I occasionally glanced at SUV's and eventually bought one. More on that later.

To stir your interest I'll go over everything car that has belonged to me.

1. 1969 Ford Mustang Coupe - 351 Windsor, Edelbrock Performer manifold, Holley 750 4bbl carb, Erson cam... Needless to say it was a fire breather though I regret to say that with the advancements in engine performance in recent years there are quite a few cars that would give it a run for it's money. I could get to 60 in under 5 seconds which was pretty sweet. It was a charitable gift that I appreciated greatly. Due to poor mileage to the tune of 8mpg and a damaged transmission I tearfully had to give it up to a loser in Torrance who wanted to put a $100 paint job over a $3000 one. That's not an extra zero. That pain job was awesome. Sigh.

2. 1998 Ford Ranger - 2.5 liter I4 with a 5 speed stick. Air conditioning and CD player. My first new car I got a decent deal on it. It served me very well though going from a car with 375hp to a pickup with about 120hp made hill climbing and lane changing into a cruel joke. It was a great pickup and the mileage wasn't too shabby but the wretched performance was depressing. After three years it was paid off and I was done with it.

3. 1999 Ford Mustang - 3.8 liter V6 manual transmission again. This one actually had some features. Power everything which was very nice and it performed rather well. It was used but the price was right so I bought it. I actually just wanted the V6 Ranger and considered the Mustang to be a little ugly. It grew on me pretty quick. I was devestated when a semi made a right hand turn right in front of me and destroyed my car. Insurance fixed it back up but as with all accidents it wasn't the same. A creak in the drivetrain and a bad pressure plate in the transmission encouraged me to take a look at a new car.

4. 2003 Nissan Frontier 4x4 - I bought it in the Spring of 2002. This was strictly a vanity purchase and I kicked myself for it. I saw it and immediately thought Marty McFly's 4x4 from the end of the first Back to the Future film. I took it offroad a few times and scampered up a snowy mountain a few times so I did actually use the four wheel drive enough to say it wasn't a total waste. I fell ill in mid 2003 resulting in two months out of work. I ran out of money and this truck was bleeding me dry. I made a career change that required most of my day being spent behind the wheel. I needed something economical with a manual transmission again.

5. 2004 Nissan Altima - It was one of the last 2004's so I was able to get a pretty good but not great deal on a lease. It was a pretty good car but took some getting used to since it was my first front wheel drive car. The manual transmission was a pain in traffic but the mileage tradeoff made it worth it. It took a beating to the tune of at least 1200 miles per week which ate into my 12,000 miles per year limit. Personell changes and a high demand for my ability to recover fileservers saw me taking long trips out of my coverage area. The result was 74,000 miles in two years which was about twice what I could have. I also got married to Jill while owning this tumor of a vehicle. She couldn't drive stick and didn't like being a passenger. We would be moving to Iowa soon and we needed something better to fill with stuff to make a long road trip.

6. 2006 Nissan Pathfinder - I manged to get out of my Altima lease and into a less expensive Pathfinder lease. It was very handy for everything we needed it to do. Gas prices would soon skyrocket and 20mpg running on premium fuel made this an expensive truck to drive around. Then comes Winter. RWD is not the greatest on ice and snow even with traction control working overtime. A punchy throttle made it difficult to get moving on snow so we pretty much drove Jill's trusty Sentra everywhere. It's an awesome car. I wish I could say the same for our Pathfinder. It was fast and relatively safe for an SUV but that wasn't enough to make it a viable second vehicle. It would sit in the garage only to be used to move large objects and provide a safe vehicle on a snowy drive to South Dakota. The fact that Jill couldn't drive it was pretty much the last straw. We needed something to fill all of our needs that we could keep for a long time.

7. 2009 Ford Flex - I've wanted one since I first saw one. I even had one all picked out. Too bad the things were so damned expensive. I was ready to give it up and go for something riddled with compromises when on a whim I decided to see if I could get one for what a lesser equipped car would cost. I was quite surprised when I found not only a dealership willing to meet my price but they also had the exact model, with options, that I had built online a year prior. The next step was taking a test drive to make sure it was all it was cracked up to be. I was quite worried that it would drive like a behemoth. I was pleasantly surprised and told Jill I had to have it. She gave in because she's cool like that and helped further work an extended warranty and 3 years of maintenance into the deal with the financing guy. We made a pretty good team. People should hire us to buy their cars for them. It's an awesome ride. I can't wait to take it on a road trip.

Jill isn't 100% sold on it because she's gotten so used to her Sentra. I don't think we could have found a better car than the one we got. Its options, safety, and performance blows away just about anything else we could have gotten for the money. We finally have a second vehicle we can use so Jill's poor Sentra doesn't have to be our beast of burden. I'm hoping we can get at least another decade out of it. I only hope we can find something as good when the time comes to give it up.

Thanks for hanging out this long. My next post will be entertaining.


  1. Well...I haven't tried driving the huge Flex yet. So we'll see what happens. There's a good chance I will not feel comfortable driving it since it's a lot bigger than I originally wanted.

  2. Jill, are you complaining?! haha ;)