My fabulous little GRNSTRK rolls 80,000 miles this week. I’ll have had the car for 5 years come this April – hard to believe. I have never driven the same car this long. Until I hit my 30s all my cars were older and I couldn’t maintain them without a live-in mechanic so I wouldn’t be able to keep them that long (they were all 70s era vehicles anyway). The car before this one was a leased Mazda 626 – a very nice car I chose for business. But in 2003 when it came time to replace the leased car with a purchase I didn’t need to take business considerations into account since touring clients around wasn’t a consideration (I was working in property management at the time).
So I went hunting for an environmentally friendly car – before we had all the options we do today. The Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight were all that was out there. The Insight was too small, even for me, and I just couldn’t stomach the design of the Prius. I hated the nose of that car. Still do.
My husband, known to be a car enthusiast (read: nut) said, what about a MINI?
I said, what’s a MINI?
One test drive was all it took. We built our MINI online and then got to watch its progress from across the pond (it was built in Oxford, England). It took 6 months from when we ordered it (Nov 2002) to when it arrived (April 2003). And I still went and picked it up a month before the lease was up on my Mazda because I just couldn’t stand leaving it down there all alone. It begged to be drove.
The name came quickly, GRNSTRK (green streak). It means many things:
1) It is one, as it flies past you at just a little over the speed limit
2) You have a green streak because you are envious you are not the one driving it
3) I have a green streak as an environmentalist
I get comments about my MINI all the time. It is all green, green body, green roof (not a contrasting roof like most) and a green leather interior (very rare). One fellow motorist, on a nice day with the windows rolled down, said “That is the most conservative MINI Cooper I have ever seen, you need to get some flames or something on that,” (I would like lightning playing across the hood but haven’t found the right artist yet); “Can I sit in it?” (The answer was always yes); “Is the glass tinted green, too?” (it was). And the comments after taking someone for a spin, or letting a 6’7″ man sit in it always was “Wow, it’s way bigger than it looks!”. Who would need more? Not I.
Not even more horsepower. Standard hp of 115 is just fine for me. I took a car control course and the only limitation on this car is me. It handles like a dream and will do anything I ask it to. Well, except drive thru two feet of water. I am on my second engine, having drowned the original engine in the flash flood before the big windstorm of Dec 06. It allows me to get 32 miles to the gallon when I am running flat out on the freeway. I don’t do as well with daily driving since it is mostly in town touring property.
In the early years we were in a MINI motoring club, I organized drives around the Puget Sound area. We took almost 25 MINIs around Alki to Endolyne Joe’s shortly after it opened and was hosting its first festival, ROUte 66 (very appropo); we would drive in a line to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, or even cover three mountain passes in one day, up and down and all around. It was a great time.
Sadly, those days are over. Now there are MINIs everywhere, it’s not such a “special” thing (except to those of us who drive one). But I have moved on to organizing canine clubs and homeowner associations instead. A lot more people benefit from my volunteer work, and a lot of dogs have playmates or find new homes because of the social network created thru those efforts.
And we do new things with our MINI. Like teardrop camping. We tow a little silver teardrop aptly named TR STRK (tear streak). It should have been named RD HZRD since people behind us see the trailer, wonder what the heck is pulling it, and move over a lane then drive in our blind spot and won’t move, they are busy ogling the vision of a MINI pulling something behind it. It cost a lot of money to rig the car for towing and adding a brake controller since the weight of the car is easily pushed by the weight of the trailer. Our first year we took a 16 states, 16 day, 6,000 mile tour from Seattle to Chicago, down Route 66 to New Mexico, then back north thru Colorado (and a trip up Pikes Peak), Utah, and home. It’s the first car trip I had ever been one more than overnight. It was a blast. We met some great people, saw some weird bugs, experienced 100 degrees in the Texas desert, and even got to say “We’re not in Kansas anymore”.
We’ve been in car shows – and trailer shows. We’re little ambassadors.
I digress. GRNSTRK just got a bath and annointed with her new magnet badge, my URL on the back in chrome (see first picture). It is very cool looking. And my car is just fine for business purposes – now people WANT to tour property with me so they get a ride in my cool little car.
I can even tow a chipper!
If you see me around town, give me the MINI wave!