Thursday, March 26, 2020

My Daily Driver: @StatesOfMotion's Mazda3i Grand Touring

1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

I needed a car because we live in Manhattan, I teach in Bridgeport, and Metro North was getting to be unworkable for my schedule. Priorities revolved around ideas of practicality (fuel economy was important given the ridiculous commuting distance involved and ethics about carbon, and as we have our first baby on the way the ability to manage a car seat and stroller and support gear and so on was something of a concern) and some sense of meaningful driving engagement and gratification. 

I drove a lovely NA Miata, but balked at the lack of room and fears of street parking. After spending entirely too long glazing over while paging through and Craigslist ads, annoying everyone on Twitter to no end, and learning too many uncomfortable truths about post-1991 BMW 3s, I found the listing for this at a VW dealer in New Jersey. No, it wasn't what I really deep-down wanted (I still think about an early Boxster that was for sale in Nassau County) but she definitely checked all the real-world boxes while still showing ample signs of life.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

She (it's definitely a feminine presence; I've named here Momoko) has been absolutely painless to keep aside from the inconsistent frustrations of New York City parking. Went in for a full dealer checkup soon after purchase and they said she was in well-maintained and very solid shape, which was reassuring. Fuel economy is well over forty miles per gallon if I drive like a grandmother and never less than the low to mid-thirties if I very definitely don't. You have to use the gearbox (and be smooth with it) to get the most out of the motor, but it's been great so far. I do occasionally check the price of 17-inch Enkei RPF1s at Tire Rack late on sleepless nights, and I desperately need to replace the door speakers.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

I've only had it since October, but so far? Heading back up to Bridgeport the day after spring break technically ended, just last week - March 16th. After watching the world spin into high alert over our developing catastrophe, being able to get in and just drive for an hour and whatever was intensely therapeutic.

4. Why do you love cars?

Part of it is the influence of the kind of parents who honeymooned at the Trans-Am race at Watkins Glen in 1970 and brought their firstborn (that's me) home in a BMW 2002. Part of it was being an awkwardly smart misfit kid who never fit into the scholastic mainstream but found a sense of significance in these creations that were half art and half science. Dad was an engineer at a series of Midwestern machine tool companies, so the workings of the industry were a constant presence at home. They're just fascinating creations, and the ability to move from place to place with speed and control remains a very human pursuit.

Patrick Frawley (@statesofmotion) teaches math and shepherds a flock of adjuncts at the University of Bridgeport. He previously wrote for Jalopnik and CarsDirect, and occasionally posts at his personal blog when the spirit moves him.

If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

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