New Owner - Origin Story - North American Motoring

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New Owner - Origin Story

Old 02-18-2019, 12:24 PM
mpaineny is offline
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New Owner - Origin Story

I wrote this a few weeks after I got my car on Oct 31, 2018 - just now got around to posting it...

I'm a convertible fan and have been driving a 2003 Eclipse GTS Spyder for the past 3 years which I have been enjoying but the shortcomings I felt were the following:

- Need to open and close 2 manual latches to operate the convertible top
- Convertible top speed.... or lack thereof
- Must be mostly stopped (less than 3mph) to operate the top
- 4 slow windows that automatically roll ALL the way down and must be rolled all the way back up when you close the roof
- Gas mileage wasn't terrible at 20MPG but was much more of a concern now that I had 10x the commute
- LONG Heavy doors that like to fall closed on you.

The Eclipse Spyder pluses were:

- The car had gusto... it moved and quickly.
- Top-down fun and great handling
- V6 power and acceleration
- Glass Back window (a must for me)

After 13 years of working at the same international company, I was laid off when the company was bought out by a larger multinational conglomerate. As a result, my commute went from 3.2 miles to 34 miles and a bridge crossing each way. As such my gas costs went from less than $200/Mo to about $500/Mo. I have been looking around at different cars thinking about what would I get if I had to replace my car... NOTHING was exciting or interesting to me in the sporty convertible space in a price that was attractive to me. Visually I was pleased with Miatas, Chrysler Crossfire SR-T, Audi TT but I was also very interested in a hardtop convertible which led me towards the Mercedes SLK class but I was not at all interested in the repair costs of the Audi, the Benz or the crossfire which has Mercedes Benz parts... in Chrysler clothing. That left me with the Miata and I was looking at the power retractable hardtop and the Retractable Fastback - the RF was out of my price range and the power retractable hardtop was too costly in insurance (it would almost double my premiums - keep in mind I have 3 cars all with full coverage clocking in at barely over $200/Mo) One of the things I liked about the Spyder was trunk space, although small, it was pretty big for a ragtop but also supplemented with a back seat that can carry groceries etc... The big drawback to the Miata was no back seat and no trunk space really. Resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to be getting any of those, I was expecting that I would maybe buy another GTS Spyder when the time came.

I was discussing my new commute and gas costs with a friend and he told me he'd been driving his wife's car back and forth to the city lately because it gets such great mileage - His wife has a 2008 Mini "Justa" Cooper. I had driven it once before when helping him and I don't know if it was the situation we were dealing with, or maybe I just wasn't giving it enough attention at the time, but it hadn't greatly impressed me. I love small fast cars and drove a tuned beast of a vintage Fiat 500 in Milan, Italy in 2011 (almost bought that suped up little car, too) and loved the looks of the Classic Mini and reissued models featured in "Italian Job" w/ Mark Wahlberg, but I wanted a topless thrill.

SO, I got home and googled Mini convertibles and I got a link to AutoTrader and a JCW Roadster was being advertised. It was black on black with black rally stripes. I was intrigued!

I started checking different ads and specs etc. and I sent out some messages to see a few cars. Some got replies that the car was no longer available others wrote back and wanted to set up private party sale viewings. I made some tentative plans to go see a few during the upcoming weekend and, as I am in no rush to buy a car, I was quite casual about it.

The next evening I was out with some friends and I mentioned to one of them how I was looking at Mini Roadsters. After explaining what a Mini Roadster was and showing a picture of the one I was going to see that weekend, he offered to keep an eye out for any deals he might see. Later that night, around 10:30p, he sends me a link to a facebook marketplace ad for what turned out to be a 6 Speed 2012 Roadster S w/ 32k miles being sold at a Mini dealership in NJ about an hour from me. I checked out the ad and fired off a message to the dealership and surprisingly I got a response a few mins later so I made an appointment to see the car the next evening. I checked out the options for additional entertainment/modern technology in these cars and made note of a few kits that allow a double DIN GPS/DVD all-in-one units to go in the dash below the speedometer, thinking I would be able to move my Pioneer NEX head unit from the Spyder to the Roadster if I went that route.

The next day at work, I get a call around 9:30 confirming my appointment/test drive. I repeat the details and as the soonest, i can get there is 6:30p the salesman suggests that I could leave a refundable deposit "to ensure the vehicle would be there for me when I got there". I agreed that was a wise move and gave him my credit card.

After work I stop by my friend's house (the one with the mini) and ask him to ride along in case I decide to leave with this mini - he offered to give me a ride there instead. I had every intention, as long as the car is as good as it seems, to purchase this car that day.

We pull into the lot of the dealership and I see the Silver and Black roadster gleaming in the setting sun right out front on their lot as you pull in. As we arrive and I am introducing myself to the salesman, I see a customer pointing to the roadster asking another salesperson about it and I overhear the reply of "I'm sorry someone put a deposit on that car just this morning" - followed by the slow disappearance of the customer's hopeful eyes and wide smile.

My salesman offers us coffee and welcomes us to the dealership and I explain I had called about the roadster and he preps for a test drive. During the test drive, I ask him about all the features of the car - which he says is a short list as "the previous owner was a "driver" and only opted for performance-based options and nothing in terms of entertainment, comfort or any other modern distractions." During the test drive he explained that this was a 1 owner car, purchased at this dealership, serviced at this dealership and traded in at this dealership. The car had the Semi-Automatic powered roof, the Sports package and wheels, 6 Speed manual transmission and leather interior - there were really no other options chosen, I mean I couldn't even pair my phone or plug in USB for audio playback. I had, AM/FM, Sirius or AUX cable.... that's IT. That was the only drawback... but one that can be remedied I hoped - When I told my girlfriend about the car earlier in the afternoon, she said I should leave the NEX in the Spyder and get something else for the Roadster (More on this later)

Needless to say, I fell in love with the handling and performance of the Roadster S. I liked that the top could be operated one handed at up to 20 MPH. The windows were FAST and rolled down just enough to ensure no obstruction to the tops operation. There was storage behind the seats and a larger trunk than the Spyder. Although only a 4 Cyl and with 30 less HP than the Spyder this car still MOVED!!! (gotta love that scroll turbo). Being a more fuel efficient car and lighter it was a drastic increase in fuel savings. The Roadster holds 2 less gallons but went 100Miles further than the Spyder did on a tank. I agreed to the sale and was treated to a 48 month 50k mile warranty for the engine, transmission and turbo. My insurance only increased by 30% and that's with adding the Mini as opposed to replacing the Spyder on the policy.

The car came with 2 original keys (thank goodness as they are NOT cheap to replace) and the first thing I purchased were some OEM Gen2 Floor mats to protect the floors. I had some ideas I wanted to pursue but for now, i was having a blast shooting up the highway bringing my new baby home. The dealership said it was on their lot less than a week before I bought it. I bought my friend a round to thank him for passing the ad on to me that evening (just 2 days prior).

Stay tuned for my next post outlining the upgrades I had planned and how I implemented them...

The Following User Says Thank You to mpaineny For This Useful Post:
ECSTuning (02-20-2019)
Old 02-24-2019, 09:41 PM
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Michael Jessop
Michael Jessop is offline
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Enjoy! I LOVE my used 2013 Roadster. Slowly I have been replacing fluids, tires, brakes, and tonight I replaced the spark plugs (but ... and please don't yell at me, I know it is wrong and I will take care of it soon) but not the coils. Checking the air filter[s] next. Car has been running like a dream! Gets 31+ miles per gallon for me (15+ mile commute) and I am not nice with the gas pedal.

Also, just want you to know 5 or so years ago the same thing happened to me. Company I was with 14 years laid me, and all remote employees off. It was hard. I ended up working 50+ miles away and the commute was through the worst of Phoenix. I did that for a year and couldn't take it anymore, found a less palatable (well, I don't get to have fun like I used to) but MUCH closer to home job. Pay is good, co-workers are great. If you ever need to chat about it all, let me know!
Old 02-26-2019, 01:50 PM
TheBigNewt is offline
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I love Roadsters and Coupes. Congrats. Now do like I did and buy and Stage 1 ECU Tune for about $500. Mine's ManicMini I. Took the guy a couple hrs to install (part of that is updating the firmware). Makes a world of difference in acceleration. You don't always have to use it but it's there if you want. Whooooooosh!
Old 03-14-2019, 02:57 PM
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minidd99 is offline
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Great story, I have a 2012 JCW roadster that I bought last year. Just waiting for the snow to disappear and the rocks cleaned off of the roads. Hopefully just 3 more weeks. I am a MINI lover so when it was time to get a 2 door convertible the Roadster was my only choice. I did compare most of the cars you listed and the JCW Roadster was by far the funnest to drive, but I may be a little predigest. This is my 4th MINI/Mini.
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