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Test Drive ANN Limited – Follow-Up: I drive this car ALL the places

Ann Morey October 28, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

M Coupe goes everywhere

As of this writing, my 2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe and I have been together for 47 days and 3,350 miles. I put those miles on driving to work, on autocross courses, running to the grocery store, on multi-state road trips, in stop and go traffic and on racetracks. In every single one of those situations, there’s no modern car I’d rather be driving than the M Coupe. I still love this car as just much as the day I first test drove it. It’s the first car I’ve ever assigned a gender and a name. My 1972 Dodge Charger’s previous owner just referred to it as “The Green Charger,” so that’s what I’ve called it. But the M Coupe’s owner referred to it as “she,” so that’s what I went with. I named her M, because she’s covered in ///M logos. Plus, my last initial is M, so I’m Ann M and she’s Ann’s M.  

And here’s what it’s like driving a little red sports car ALL the places.. … Continue Reading

Test Drive ANNLimited – Judgement Day

Ann Morey October 16, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

When I started this project, I knew my 2003 4 cylinder Honda Accord sedan wasn’t me. I knew it was too boring and too slow. I knew there were tons of cars out there that were faster and less boring than my Accord, but I didn’t know which one was me. So instead of pouring over Consumer Reports and Motor Trend websites and blogs and selecting a car that was the most fun sounding out of the most practical and reliable cars, I decided to drive 21 different cars and see what I liked best. Because once you learn what’s most important to you, it becomes obvious which trade-offs are worthwhile. Which, generally is a pretty good life philosophy. Get out and try things, see what you like, and make decisions accordingly. It seems obvious, but it’s so easy to stay inside and make choices based on what everyone else says you should be doing.

When I first started out, I thought I’d want to spend about $25k, have a back seat and go from zero to 60 in 7 seconds or less. The more cars I drove, the more I learned. Even though was new to driving stick, I quickly found that I love it and that it was a must have in my next car. The Miata and the S2000 taught me that I love the tossable feeling of rear wheel drive two seaters. The Corvette, Mustang and 997 Carrera S taught me that 7 seconds is too slow to from 0-60. The entire experience taught me that I love nimble handling, torque and acceleration so much that I’m willing to trade off the practicality of a back seat and a good deal of reliability in my daily driver to get it. 

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera

Ann Morey October 14, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

996 Porsche 911 After falling in love with the $49k 997 Porsche 911 Carrera S, I had to find out what it would be like to drive a Porsche that would be in my price range, and I knew that would probably be a 996. I could afford a bit newer/lower mile 996 than this example, but this 1999 Carrera with 78,000 miles for $20,000 was the only one I could find at a local dealership.

This car had a problem with the ignition where you had to wiggle the key around after starting it to get the A/C fan to come on. The salesman said it was a common problem on 911s and that it would be fixed before the car was sold. I guess that’s what people mean when they say sports cars have reliability issues. It made the car feel more like a quirky old car than a special sports car to me, like a 20 year old econobox or something that makes you develop weird behaviors like key wiggling to keep it running. The interior in general felt less special than the 997. It felt kind of 90s-ish to me, which I guess makes sense because this car is actually from the 90s. I was surprised I even noticed it, but maybe my expectations are higher for Porsches.

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe

Ann Morey October 11, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

2006 Z4 M Coupe test drive review

A little background first. Red is my favorite color. Green is my second favorite color and blue is my third favorite color. I don’t know if other people rank their favorite colors like this, but I love bright colors and colors are important to me, so I do. Red is also my dad’s favorite color. His first two cars, a 1962 Buick and a 1969 Fairlane, both purchased used, weren’t red, so he had them painted. When my dad bought his first new car, a 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, he ordered it in red with a red interior. That was the car I was brought home from the hospital in. Since then, the rest of my family’s cars have also been red with a red interior until they stopped making red interiors, so now my dad just buys cars that are red on the outside. My first car was my dad’s old 1990 Dodge Spirit, and it’s red interior has a special place in my heart.

Now, the Z4M wasn’t really on my radar because it’s such a rare car. But a couple of different people had mentioned that model to me, so I figured I’d search Craigslist just to see. I was surprised when exactly one result actually showed up. The ad was a link to an eBay listing. I clicked it and saw an adorable little car. It was red. With a red interior. And it was more than I wanted to spend. Up until this point I hadn’t bugged any private sellers about test driving their cars, since I felt like I needed to be ready to commit to buying that day if I was going to take up their time. But the Z4M intrigued me, since it was a little two seater that shared some components with my beloved E46 M3. So I decided to send the seller an honest note. I told him I was looking at buying a car sometime soon-ish and that I had loved E46 M3s and Porsche 911s and I would love to have a chance to drive his car. I was thrilled to wake up the next morning with a note from him saying that he would be happy to meet me for a test drive!

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Porsche 911 test drive review

Porsche 911s weren’t really on my radar, because for some reason my brain was lumping them into the supercar category and I figured the only one I could afford would be too old to be practical for a daily driver. I do see various 911s around town in the winter, though. There’s a brown one with a ski rack, and a silver 996 in the garage where I park at work. I see it there even on the snowiest, most blizzardy days.

But,Test Drive ANNLimited is about keeping an open mind and always being ready for adventure, so I searched for 911s just to see. Much to my surprise, up pops a beautiful 996 Targa in a lovely metallic blue with a tan interior for $27k. Certainly, this must be considered. I’ll be honest, after driving the Corvette I was a little nervous about driving a 911. This was a rear engined car, after all. But I was assured “never lift” and I would be fine. So I called. The salesman said, “Oh, that blue one sold. We had a lot of interest in that. We’ve got some nice Boxsters, though. Would you like to drive a Boxster?” Maybe I would like to drive a Boxster, but I was sad about having my hopes of driving a 911 dashed. I say, “I don’t know. Maybe if I have time I’ll swing by.”

I ended up having plenty of time after driving the 135i, and the Porsche dealership was just up the street, so I stopped in to try my luck. I explained to the salesman that I had seen the Targa and was excited at the prospect that there were 911s in my price range, but I’d never driven one and wanted to try it to see if I should be on the lookout for a 911 that I could afford. The salesman said, “Sure. We’ve got this one here and then a Turbo over there.” I knew I could never afford a Turbo and was kind of afraid of the idea of driving something that fast, so I opted to drive the Carrera S, even though it was listed at $49k and way out of my budget.

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2011 BMW 135i

bmw 135i I really wanted to check out the 135i because it seemed like the closest thing to an E46 M3 that I could get certified pre-owned in my price range, since the E90 was not doing it for me. They seem to be pretty rare, as the one I wanted to look at earlier in the week had sold already, but I found another one at the Audi dealership where I drove the G37. It was listed as a black car with an auto, but it was all I could find so I figured it was still worth checking out.

He took me out to the lot and I was thrilled to find the 135i was NOT an auto as listed, but a manual! It was also white instead of black. Then the salesman gave me the best gift a salesman can ever give a car shopper – he said, “I’m really busy today, so I’m going to let you take it out by yourself.”

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2013 Mustang GT Premium (Part II)

Ann Morey September 30, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

2014 Mustang GT reviewUp until this point I was having a hell of a time actually seeing what a Mustang was really like. I wanted to drive a 5.0 GT with the Brembo brakes, a 6-speed  and the 3.73 rear end gears, because I’d heard that was the most fun. The first salesman ended up being too new and nervous to really let me get a feel for the car and a second dealer didn’t even let me drive the car they had because it was inside the showroom, (“We’d have to wash it and stuff if we took it out.”) I decided to call this dealership before visiting, especially since it was 40 miles away. When I called I explained that I’d been having trouble actually driving this car, and I wanted to go on a real test drive to see what the car could really do, since I was in the market for a fun sports car. The salesman I spoke to said, “No problem! Just ask for Jeff when you show up!”

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2003 BMW M3 SMG (Part II)

Ann Morey September 27, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

bmw e46 m3I saw this Phoenix Yellow beauty sitting in front of the dealership when I went to test drive the 135i manual and ended up driving the 335i xDrive auto. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for an E46 M3 coupe with a manual every since I drove the e46 M3 SMG convertible. I commented to the salesman that I loved the other M3 that I drove, but was disappointed in the SMG transmission. The salesman says, “Did they teach how how to drive an SMG?! You know, it’s more like a manual. Did they teach you how to set the aggressiveness of it? The SMG is one of the greatest transmissions ever, it’s the best of both worlds! But someone needs to teach you how to drive it.” I am doubtful of this claim, but really want to drive an M3 again. Besides, this one is a coupe, not a convertible. And hey, he could be right. So I say, “Okay, why don’t you teach me and I’ll give it another chance.”

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2011 BMW 335i X-Drive

Ann Morey September 23, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

2011 BMW 330ixI didn’t actually plan on driving this car. I wanted to drive a 135i with a stick. When I showed up at the dealership, the salesman sitting near the door offered to help me find the 135i. The salesman and I had to take an elevator up to the 3rd floor in the dealership’s garage to try to find it. He was old enough to be my dad and he seems a little too excited that I was female and interested in cars, but he doesn’t accost me in the elevator so I figure I am good to proceed with caution.

When we get up to the 3rd floor, the 135i is nowhere in sight. It turns out it’s already been sold. The salesman says, “We’ve got a 335i with a stick. Do you want to drive that one instead? It’s bigger but you’ll get a little bit of a feel for it.” I figure I’m here, so why not give it a try? We take the elevator back down and go out to the lot, where we find a “sold” sign on the 335i with a stick. “Do you want to drive a 335xi with an auto?” The salesman asks. I say, “Sure.” I mean, I drove a Camaro. It can’t be worse than a Camaro.

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2002 Honda S2000

Ann Morey September 20, 2013 Test Drive ANNLimited

2002 Honda S2000 

This car was at a big Honda dealership that was really busy when I got there. The woman at the reception desk paged a used car salesman to help me take a look at it. 

He takes a photocopy of my driver’s license, grabs the keys, and takes me out to the S2000. It’s next to a Miata and a Civic. It’s a bit bigger than the Miata, but still dwarfed by the Civic. I ask him if I can take the top down, since I want the full experience. You unlatch the top from each side and push the button, which is easy, but then there’s this cover that snaps over it that takes a few minutes. Maybe you get faster at it when you do it all the time, but it felt like a lot of work. He said, “I’m really busy right now, so I’m going to let you take it out yourself. I think you’ll be more likely to fall in love with it if you have it to yourself, anyways.” This guy’s good.

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