I Came Home With a New Car and $2,700, $5 was in Quarters


I came home with a 2017 428i and an envelope with approximately $3,000 cash, the final five dollars of which were in quarters. Mr. G looked at me baffled, it’s not an unusual look for him when I share the events of my days. He noted that this didn’t happen to other people and that my life was decidely odd.

“Other people need to think outside of the box.” I declared. And I stand by my declaration.

I needed a new car as the lease was ending on my Ford. I already miss my Ford. Sure, the turn radius was awful, my son complained about having to make a 53 point turn to park in the Junior lot, but that HOV lane sticker? That’s one sexy sticker. And $20 a month for gas, who wouldn’t love that? I miss the preferred parking, waving a toe under the bumper to open the trunk, silence at slow speeds, and the anonymity that a mid-priced American car will get you. I don’t miss a mostly useless navigation system, nor do I miss much about driving the CMax over 35 miles per hour.

I had looked at a multitude of cars and lost enthusiasm somewhere along the way. We bought Mr. G a rocketship disguised as a sedan and I wanted a convertible, but with the exception of the Porsche, they all left me a little flat. The prices and the curb weights are too high, and the engines and trunks are too small. I kind of loved the Boxster but not enough to want to own it, just enough to want to lease it, and leasing a Boxster is not a good fiscal plan.

So I bopped around the internet and searched for luxury convertibles lessees who wanted to get out of their contracts. I found quite a few but their cars smelled like cigarettes, had bad crash ratings, or too many miles on them. BMW has impressive residual values so their lease rates are generally quite reasonable. I started there.

Finally, I found a 4 series. It’s white. What the kids would describe as basic. But let’s be frank about who I am. I’m a 47-year-old suburban woman who plays too much tennis, tends to her family, and has a little side-hustle on the web. I’m about as basic as one can be. A white convertible it is! Plus there’s zero drive off, someone else already took care of that.

As I spoke to the man who had the lease on the car I realized that his payments were out of line with the value of the vehicle. We did a little math together and found that during the life of the remainder of the lease the payments he was making were about $2,400 more than what’s reasonable. So we decided that he would pay me $2,400 and I would take over the remainder of the payments along with title of the vehicle.

Well, we brought the car into the dealer for a quick inspection and found that it really did need two tires and an alignment, about $800 of work so we agreed that he’d toss in another $600 bringing us to $3,000.

We submitted the lease transfer request to BMW and things moved slowly on their end. Apparently a lot of folks were not working a lot of hours during the holiday season and we paid the price for it. Another payment was due but it wasn’t yet my car so the payment was his to make. We adjusted the amount due to me by a bit so that my adjusted lease payment would again properly reflect the value of the vehicle.

Now it was time to take possession of the car. Did I mention that the poor guy had a major orthopedic surgery during the time we were waiting on BMW for paperwork?

We scheduled a time to meet at the dealership (it felt like a non-murdery location) and the night before I got a text from him asking if I could take a check in the mail. With everything in writing and his career being both professional and established in the community I said that would be agreeable. I suggested that he could simply postdate a check if he preferred. Something was muttered and I set off the following afternoon to get my car.

He showed up with an envelope full of cash and an apology that he was short $5 but his wife keeps quarters in the house. Then it occurred to me that he needed to write a check at a later date because the checkbook was in his office & the surgery had kept him home. The envelope was thick, the money was there, down to the penny, and I felt a little like a bank robber or a drug dealer or just a really rich lady.

The punchline is that I got a car. It’s cute, it’s a little luxurious, a little slow, a little basic, but someone paid me to take it and now I’ve got 15 months left before I get to do this again.




We Haz All the Cars


Mr. G’s Jaguar lease is about to end and we need to get him a new car. Before the Jag he had a bunch of BMWs all in a row, one after the other. They’re wonderful cars, one kept him safe in a major accident and they hold their value well. The problem is that they are boring. The city is littered with 5 Series BMWs and after 4 years of a Jaguar he has come to enjoy having a car that’s a little bit different. I have loved the 6 series Gran Coupe since I laid eyes on it.

2013 bmw gran coupe

Unfortunately I’m the only one who loves it. It doesn’t appeal to Mr. G. The 7 series is just too big and he doesn’t like Audi or Mercedes. I can’t even begin to talk to him about a Japanese car. They’re much too reasonable and reliable for our tastes I suppose.

When Mother’s Day rolled around Mr. G asked me what I wanted and I told him nothing and I meant it too. I’ve bought myself everything I need and most of what I want. I wanted to get my mom something a little more expensive and I wanted to have a day where I didn’t wash any dishes (that did not happen). I wanted the kids to start studying for final exams and I wanted Mr. G to pick a car so I could buy one for him in the coming weeks.

After lunch with my family we headed out to find a car for Mr. G. We both yawned at the 5 series, knowing that it’s the car we’d likely end up with, I dragged him to the Mercedes Dealership where he refused to drive anything as he didn’t like the look of a single one and then we landed in Dante’s Fourth Circle of Hell, the Maserati Dealership.

We looked at the Quattroporte as there are quite a few that are preowned with very low miles but it’s an absolute boat. The interior styling is unquestionably luxe but at a gazillion dollars the car we saw didn’t even have a backup camera. The salesman mocked me for caring so that might be why I decided that I hated the Ghibli, or it might have been because in between the Quattroporte and the Ghibli we drove a Panamera S and it appealed to us more than either of the Maseratis.

So we left the dealership knowing that we’d be calling my friend Jay at Beverly Hills Porsche. Mr. G likes the Panamera but I secretly thought I’d steer him to 911. Now that we have three cars they don’t all need to have back seats.

Then I considered something I’d previously ignored. We can buy the Jag. My husband loves that car, there’s nothing wrong it with (now) and the Mercedes will be going back in less than a year. Today I went ahead and purchased the Jaguar (for $10,000 under Kelly Blue Book, that was NOT a good lease) and Mr. G will continue driving it until my lease ends. At that point in time we’ll be knocking at Jay’s door for something obnoxiously fast and I’ll drive the Jag until the engine gives out and the wheels fall off (which could be soon).

So basically today I sold myself a used car.


It’s All Rubber and Metal and I Love it


If you’ve ever sold automobiles you’ve probably walked into your sales manager’s office to ask for the price of the used car he took in trade just hours ago. Used cars actually made me quite a bit more money than new ones and if something good came in I’d get really excited about it. I’d practically skip into the office with a, “How much are we asking on the conversion van/convertible/coupe?” And, “Isn’t it wonderful?” Then I’d talk about some feature of the vehicle that I just loved. Because there is a part of almost every vehicle on the planet that I just love. My manager invariably would look at me and say, “Rubber and metal.” and then grumble out the sticker price and the mini price.

In my first few weeks and months I was annoyed by this. I felt like they were ruining the experience, the joy of matching cars with their owners (and me with a paycheck). I knew that at some time these men had loved cars and wondered what happened, how they got to be so unhappy. A few months in and I learned what every salesman on the floor already knew, to ignore them. I kept selling, I stayed excited, they grumbled and the rubber and metal left the lot with new owners every day. It was a game and I loved playing it.

I started blogging because I needed the community that it offered me during a difficult chapter in my life. I continued blogging because I came to enjoy the community it offered and though I no longer needed it in the same manner I relied on it in other ways. I missed working but our home isn’t set up so that a second person could work a job outside the home. I missed talking about my passions. I love my kids and I love hearing about your kids but a relentless focus on parenthood can make every day feel like Groundhog Day.

So I write a bit about this and that but he real joy in blogging has come in travel and automotive work. Every time a new car is dropped off at my house for review I find myself joyful even when it’s a vehicle that is completely impractical for my personal lifestyle.

I say no to most blogger trips. For the most part I really want to be with my family and it’s tricky to get me out of town. I called home just a few minutes ago and Mr. G sounds like he needs a day off. To have back to back weekend trips is a terrible thing for my family and it’s never happened before and is unlikely to happen again but last week’s trip with Hyundai was irresistible and I’m sitting in a hotel room in San Antonio after spending a day with Continental Tires that defies description.

In the last 12 hours I’ve done drifting hot laps with a BMW driving instructor in an M6 (the video of his hands on the wheel is amazing), driven four cars on wet track, flown in a helicopter, braked on a wet track and measured the 50-0 mph time and distance, driven a 200 meter wet/dry track and turned the vehicle sideways, passengered in a dune buggy with a driver from a NASCAR Family, shot at skeet (but didn’t actually shoot a skeet) and caught a fish.

The driving was all done at the Continental Tires Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas. When the day was over I didn’t want to leave. I was like that jerk kid who is always melting down when it’s time to leave the amusement park. She’s screaming and crying that it’s open or that the sun is still up and she can’t remember the best parts of the day because she’s so pissed that the day is ending. I was almost her but I waged a battle in my head and had success. I allowed myself to enjoy what I had without bemoaning my fate that there was only seven hours of driving cars in a manner that would have you arrested on the streets of LA.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll talk about what I learned with Continental Tires. When I throw numbers at you, you’ll see the import of replacing tires before they’re terribly worn out and selecting a tire that performs well on wet as well as dry roads. Perhaps Monday I’ll have a video to share, maybe it won’t be done until Tuesday.

What I know is that when I’m writing about vehicles and vehicle performance they’re so much more to me than rubber and metal. They’re about excitement, our relationship with the cities we live in, the safety of the people we love and transport in them and the thrill of driving fast then coming to a screeching halt. There’s a very American love affair to be had with our cars and I’m coming off of two very indulgent weeks where I’ve been allowed to talk about nothing but speed, safety and comfort.

It’s basically perfect.

continental true contact ecoplus tire

A New Kind of Car Shopping: Mazda CX-5


I am not a trailblazer. I’m a listener. I remember what people say and in what context. I listened intently when I visited the Mercedes Benz Driving School and a few weeks ago Jane began lessons with them. I like their philosophy and I’ve loved what I’ve seen put into practice.

Some years ago my neighbor, who happens to be a veteran firefighter, was over and we were in car buying mode. When we asked him about buying a car he told us that in 25 years he’d never cut a dead body out of a Mercedes or a BMW. The following month we bought two new BMW’s. We’ve always looked for safety in our vehicles.

The interesting (and sad) thing is that shortly after obtaining said BMWs Mr G was T Boned by a car traveling at approximately 45 MPH who never even slowed down. The car was totaled and he was shaken and a bit sore but otherwise completely uninjured. Our insurance company was spectacular (I cannot foresee a scenario where we would leave GEICO) and a few weeks later we bought the same car all over again.

The Jaguar has been an interesting experience. I call her the cheerleader. She’s fast, she’s sexy, she’s unquestionably beautiful and sounds spectacular. She is also an idiot. Driving a Jaguar is a never-ending test of one’s patience. There are engine lights and odd sounds. It’s impossible to fill with gasoline anywhere but Costco. If the gas comes out too slowly the nozzle simply clicks off as if it’s full and when a vehicle gets 14 MPG on average you need more than 6 gallons of gas to get through a week. The navigation system often tells you that you’re in a completely different city and don’t get me started on seat belts that stick. I must confess that I love the blind spot indicators but they’re a feature left over from when Ford controlled Jaguar and everyone who knows me knows that I have a complete and utter love affair with the C-Max Energi. I don’t need the headache of a Jaguar for a little extra safety.

I am so wildly off topic right now I can’t even help myself.

Listening: friends with kids older than mine all bought cars for their kids when they got their permits. Like us they drive fast or luxurious cars (the Mercedes is not fast but it’s totally inappropriate for a teen) that are unlikely to withstand the cruel treatment of a new driver. These parents as a group suggested getting Jane her car along with her permit and having her drive as much as possible for the six months leading up to her 16th birthday. They said that every time I was in a car with her it should be her car and I should be the passenger. It makes sense if you subscribe to the 10,000 hour theory (I’ve got issues with it… but… ).

In any event Jane loves driving (apple… tree…) and she mentioned to me that if she had a choice of cars she’d like an SUV. Rather than asking my firefighter neighbor which SUVs he’s never pulled a corpse from, I (much more reasonably) checked the IIHS website for the least expensive SUV with five star crash ratings. Tossing your kid in a car makes you want to buy a zillion airbags, four tires, some accident avoidance technology and whatever vehicle happens to come with it. The Mazda CX-5 popped up and since I had absolutely loved driving the CX-7 and the CX-9 in the past and rightly assumed that the CX5 would be a pleasing vehicle. I called my friends at Mazda and asked for a loan.

mazda cx5 window sticker monroney

mazda cx5

To be perfectly fair the CX-5 they sent has the Grand Touring package so it’s easy to enjoy. Being that we live in a congested city and Jane will be set loose in no time I’d like her to have a back up camera and a good navigation system in any vehicle we get her. That means that Mazda is better than Jaguar already. The base model is $20,000 and the vehicle I drove is $30,000. Jane would be served well by having the amenities of the higher trim line but in a vehicle that’s a year or two old. There are limits to what we are able to spend, but more so there are limits to what we are willing to spend on a 15 and a half year old child (who is admittedly wonderful). Also I remember having some issues with parking when I was a kid and think that a few bumps and scrapes are to be expected.

In any event I hadn’t planned on reviewing the 2014 CX-5. This was a loan based solely on personal need. But we loved it. We loved everything about it except the 4 star rollover rating. The back seat is spacious, the dash is intuitive, the technology is stellar. I have to hand it to Mazda, my iPhone music integrated perfectly (I won’t bother taking another swipe at Jaguar… you can just imagine) as did Waze (in case we can’t find an appropriately priced vehicle with navigation).

This little SUV gets great mileage, is plenty peppy and feels large inside but is still compact enough to parallel park with ease. If we get an SUV for Jane in the next few months I’d really like for it to be a CX5. There’s a lot of convenience in an SUV and I prefer sedans. If we get this one for Jane I win. I have an SUV on hold for when I want to haul lumber (unlikely) or a pallet of shoes(more likely). Again, not much of a review, more about shopping. I’m getting excited because this summer we’ll get rid of the Jaguar too. Two cars. So much better than two sick kids. 

I Spent the Day Shopping


I spent the entire day shopping because my Dad is turning 70 this weekend. I found the most fabulous gift ever and I can’t even blog about it because he’ll probably just read this and buh-bye surprise.

I promise a video on Monday because it’s impossible to buy a gift for a man who has spent 70 years buying himself the things he wants. I can tell you only that it is not from Hermes because they’re in the middle of remodel and when I popped into the store this afternoon their attitudes were even shittier than usual. And usually they are vile.

The weekend is jam packed with kid stuff and I’m lugging wine around like a bar-back because I need to distribute bottles evenly around the school campus. I figure I’ve given them enough tsuris that I owe everyone a little good booze…

Oh, also, I got the Jag back. Ummm… they didn’t fix anything but they did take a video of themselves not fixing anything. BMW here we come.