Thursday, March 24, 2011
Happy 1er Anniversary
It's been a year since I've bought my car, a BMW 135i Convertible. The 1-Series is also known as a 1er in BMW circles, hence the post title. This post was originally published on BlogHer in March 2010. The original title of the post was Yes, You Can Be a Mom and a Car Enthusiast Too, but was edited to Mommy Wants a Convertible. Which was true, but not the essense of the post (geesh am I that shallow?). Enjoy...
In my twenties, I fell in love with BMWs. I loved their history, their styling, and their ability to live up to pure car enthusiast standards in terms of performance and handling. I scraped together all my money and stretched my budget completely thin to buy my first BMW. I absolutely loved the car. I loved how it drove, loved how it looked and I meticulously hand-washed and waxed the car to keep it beautiful.
Fast-forward 10 years, and I found myself ready to buy a new car. I had my sights set on a BMW convertible. After driving a friend’s convertible, I realized that you really need to wear a cap while driving top-down on the highway to keep your hair in place and the sun off your face. So I grew out my bangs so that I could wear a cap and not mess up my hair. I was all set for my next car adventure. Even my hair was ready. Except, then I was pregnant with my first child.
My husband and I were in the showroom looking at convertibles when it dawned on me that the reduced trunk space of a convertible was going to be a problem. We already had a brand-new fancy stroller with those 12-inch wheels waiting for the baby. There was no way that stroller was going to fit in the trunk. And let’s face it, I can joke around about putting goggles on the baby for driving with the top down, but in reality you would never drive open-roof with a baby in the car. My husband suggested that we look into the sport wagon (or "touring sedan," as they call it) instead. I was crestfallen.
I did eventually buy a used BMW wagon with a sport package, a five-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive. Not your average soccer mom car. But it was still a wagon, and it just didn’t fire my imagination. However, after hauling two kids with all their stuff through all sorts of nasty New England weather, it was definitely a good choice.
Last summer, I was invited to attend a BlogHer event, "What Do Women Want in a Vehicle". Of course I was all jazzed about going and giving my voice, as I am no ordinary woman. I am a mechanical engineer who LOVES cars. When they asked what was most important thing you loved about your car that you would never compromise, I was thrilled to say manual transmission. I could never buy a minivan because of this. Most women listed the usual niceties (I can't even remember what they were -- automatic sliding doors?). There were a few items that I heartily agreed with, such as reliability and gas mileage. But for the most part, I felt alone as a car enthusiast.
My kids are now nine and six, certainly out of the baby stage, and my wagon is now nine years old. I’ve gotten used to all the mom sacrifices you make for your kids and have gotten my car fix here and there by driving my husband’s sports car. I put out of my mind owning my own dream convertible. But last month, my husband happened to see a leftover 2009 BMW 135i convertible at the dealer for a cut-rate price.
I was extremely skeptical about looking at this car. It was rear-wheel drive, which meant that I would have to keep my current car as a winter car. I didn’t NEED a new car. My wagon was still going strong, and it is still a nice performing vehicle. But I agreed to take a look. In the showroom, I politely nodded and sat inside. It was nice, but just not necessary. Then I opened the top. Wait a minute. This is the convertible that I always wanted. The open air, the 300 HP, the six-speed manual transmission, the look-at-me blue. It screamed Angela. A week later, I drove it home.
Call it impractical. Call it a midlife crisis. Call it a mom who found her mojo again as a car enthusiast.