The Mini CooperEver since the Mini Cooper came out last year, I have been in pure car lust for this vehicle. They had me with their marketing when they launched a series of billboards and once I took a look at their website I knew I was a goner. I’ve always liked Euro-Styled vehicles and the Mini Cooper was the first production vehicle in the US that had this type of styling. When Holly and I test drove them on Labor Day 2002, I was hoping that it would drive poorly, or otherwise give a bad driving experience so that my love affair with the Mini would end. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I loved the feel and handling of the vehicle and if anything I was more in love. Since I was already in a 3 year lease at the time, it was easy to dismiss my lust for this car by simply telling myself I can’t have it. That worked before, but now that I’m at the end of my lease I’m having a hard time resisting this car.

Why do I feel that the Mini Cooper is a piece of forbidden fruit? Well, Holly purchased the New Volkswagon Beetle this year and that is a fairly small car. My lease vehicle has been a Jeep Cherokee, so that gave us a 4 door and hauling vehicle if we needed it. I don’t haul people, or cargo all that often, but it does happen. As much as I love the Mini, the first time I have to go to Home Depot and pick up a piece of plywood, I know that I’d kick myself knowing that I purchased another small car instead of a more practical car.

The More Practical Car
I’ve been thinking about what my next vehicle will be for quite some time. I’ve been fairly happy with the Jeep Cherokee. I’m on my second one and I was expecting that I would simply get another one when my lease expired, yet Jeep discontinued the Cherokee and released the Liberty instead. The Liberty is an expanded Wrangler, and not the same thing as a Cherokee, but I won’t get into that right now. 🙂 Knowing that the Cherokee was no more, I’ve been contemplating what my needs are etc.., for quite some time. The bottom line is that I need something that I can haul a few items in and has something of a back seat. Again, I don’t haul cargo or people all that often, but it’s nice to have that option should the need arise.

The SUV has worn thin on me. I was never much of a fan of this type of vehicle, but the Cherokee always seemed a breed apart from the traditional SUV. My main gripe with this type of transport is the gas mileage. SVU’s typically get very poor gas mileage and that can add up over the course of a year. With the purchase of Holly’s New Beetle, we’ve noticed how drastic gas mileage can be between types of vehicles.

The other deciding factor in my analysis is that we may be having a child in the next year or so. There’s been no date set as to when we plan to start trying, but Holly and I both want to have kids and when we have them we will need a larger vehicle than a Mini Cooper or a New Beetle.

With all that in mind, I’ve narrowed down my options regarding a practical car. Since I need flexibility, good gas mileage and the ability to haul cargo and people the only car that matches is the Honda Element. All the other vehicles in the SUV market seemed to disqualify themselves either in terms of price, or gas mileage. I looked at trucks and ran into the same issues and cars simply don’t have any way to haul cargo.

The Justification Game
Not that the Element is a bad vehicle, but it’s not the ideal vehicle either. When taking a test drive of the Element, I took a look at the Honda Accord and was stunned to see how nice they are. The Accord has come a long way since I drove one back in the 80’s. In looking at the price tags it’s hard to justify the Element when you could easily get an Accord instead and that kind of thinking starts the “Justification Game.”

What I really want is a Mini Cooper, but that seems so selfish in light of what would be a practical car. Yet I can’t help but think of ways that this car is the best choice. It gets better gas mileage than the Element and Holly and I haven’t even begun trying to have kids, so that could be more than a year away and who knows what could happen in a year. So the only other objections to the Mini is the fact that it doesn’t haul cargo or people well. I could get a trailer for hauling light loads and the Mini does have a back seat. I’ve talked with friends who have Minis and they claim that they have no problems. Besides how often to I have more than one person riding with me?

Every Car I’ve Owned Has Been Practical
The first car that I ever had as my own was practical and I’ve been practical ever since. After returning from a bicycle tour in Europe the first mode of transportation that I acquired was a motorcycle. I loved riding my Kawasaki Spectre 750 as my only mode of transportation, but when I got a new job at the LHBA-SIF, I was told that I needed other means. I was required to meet with and entertain insurance agents, so I needed a practical car. I ended up leasing a Dodge Intrepid. It was a nice car, but not the car I really wanted. Later, I started my own business and given the amount of travel and moving at the time, it only made sense that I would get an SUV. I ended up with a Jeep Cherokee and then re-leased another one 3 years later.

So for the past 9 years I have been the practical one and had cars that were what was necessary and not exactly what I truly wanted. That alone makes me want to rebel and be the impractical one for a change. Rebelling just for the sake of it doesn’t make much sense, but the bottom line is that if I don’t get a car that I truly want now, then when will that time come?

It’s Just A Car
The bottom line is that it’s just a car. Although we live in a dominant car culture, a car does not make the man. I’m more of a cyclist than a car guy anyway. Besides if I end up with a Honda Element it’s not as if it would be in the end of the world. The Element is a fine vehicle, however, it’s no Mini Cooper. 😛

Can’t you just see me in a British Racing Green Mini Cooper S with a white roof… Bonnet stripes…

ahhhh… what a dream….