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Busy day... - Equiraptor's Journal
Busy day...
Yesterday, Nugget and I had quite a busy day.

It started with a trip to John and Dan's shop where we got our cars tech'd for autocrossing this year. Mine failed... The battery wasn't fully bolted down. I had been wondering what that clank was. I yelled at Dan about it (Dan had replaced my battery recently), Dan fixed it and then yelled at the guy who failed me (all of us joking about it, of course).

I left my car at the shop as Nugget and I went to Red's Indoor Range, the north location. Nugget had brought his two Glocks and we rented a gun for me. We tried to rent a Sig P239, but it was behaving oddly. The gun would only fire in double action. So we mentioned it to the range employee standing behind us, and he took it back out and brought me another gun to try. This gun, however, had a grip shaped for a specific size finger, and my fingers are much smaller. This leaves one of my fingers on a ridge and is really uncomfortable. So, he went back, again, and brought out an HK USP Compact that shot 9mm. Nugget says this gun fires more like the Glocks than the Sig does, but, well... This one didn't confuse us. I shot nearly an entire pack of ammo and though I enjoyed it, I think I'd like some instruction.

We finished up at the range and drove into Pflugerville looking for food. We ended up at a little BBQ place on 1825/Pecan Street. I quite enjoyed my brisket sandwich. After this, we headed up to the Pontiac dealership. If I'm gonna buy a new MX-5, I should at least test drive the competition to make sure the MX-5 is the one I want, right?

Well, apparently, the only new Solstice on their lot was an automatic and in the showroom, but there was a 2006, used. So I drove that. The salesperson wouldn't let Nugget come with me - he had to come. Poor Nugget. So, the salesperson and I headed out.

Before we even left the parking lot, I knew I didn't like the shifter. It didn't do well going into gear while the car was stopped. It wasn't enough to be a problem, it just wasn't as nice as the MX-5. We get out of the lot and I play with the gears as we head down a very straight street. I made it up to third before deciding that was fast enough for the roadway, then I shifted back down to second. Since I didn't know the car well, I couldn't rev match effectively, so the downshift was a bit unclean. The salesperson said, "I think you got it in second, there." "Yes, that was intentional." What, has that guy never heard of downshifting? Yeah, ok, I did it poorly, but still. We went down some back roads. Pretty quickly, the salesperson asked me what I thought of it. Really, it's a GM car and I haven't driven many GMs, so I wasn't sure yet, and told him as much. Accelerating away from one stop sign I got the back tires to chirp going into second, but the acceleration was a bit disappointing. I could definitely tell that the engine was fighting against the greater weight of the car, in that regard. Eventually, we finally came upon a sweeping curve where I could try to get a feel for the car's handling. Of course, as soon as I started into the curve at an aggressive pace, the salesperson told me to "take it easy, that's fast enough." Well, no, it wasn't quite fast enough. I could only just barely feel the car talking back to me at this point. Still, it wasn't feeling as fun as the MX-5. On the way back to the dealership I got a chance to feel the car at highway speeds. I'd hate to try and pass on a two lane road in this car. Even downshifting, it wouldn't accelerate well.

So the Solstice was a real disappointment. Not fun to drive slow, I couldn't really try to drive it fast, and what little I did wasn't a lot of fun. I also sat very, very low in the car - I felt like a midget, like I was maybe 4 feet tall, at most. (Insert crack from John here) Not only that, the attitude of the salesperson was entirely different from the attitude of the Mazda salesperson who came with me on one MX-5 test drive. After a fun corner in the MX-5, the salesperson said, "You drive this car the way it's meant to be driven." Talk about a night and day difference.

While I didn't really expect to like the Solstice, I wanted to give it a fair trial. I want to be absolutely certain the MX-5 is the right car, and that drive gave me that certainty.

We finished the drive and headed back by the shop to pick up my car. The guys were still there, so we went in to say hi. I mentioned I'd driven the Solstice and John asked me if I'd driven "his" MX-5 yet. I hadn't. So we went and found the card for it (it has a fancy card instead of a key. Whatever.) and I went out for a drive with Nugget.

Now, this MX-5 isn't exactly stock. If I'm remembering correctly, it has aftermarket intake, exhaust, flywheel (saving 11 pounds), shocks, and springs. It's an absolute blast to drive. Great throttle response, hunches down around corners, growls when you step on the gas pedal... It's just great. And John wants to sell it. But, of course (my life couldn't ever be simple), there's a problem with that. Dan wants to drive the car this autocross season. So, John and Dan and I are talking about the various possibilities. We'll see... Maybe I'll get a Nordic Green MX-5 after all... Maybe it will have to be Stormy Blue Mica.

After that wonderful drive, we returned home to get us back down to one car for the rest of the day. After my fun test driving prospective new cars, Nugget wanted his turn. So we headed down to the Porsche dealership. Nugget explained that he didn't know if he wanted the 911 or the Boxster, and so we test drove both. We started in a red 911 Carrera S Cabriolet with black interior. Both Nugget and I drove it around the Allendale neighborhood (pissing off a few residents in the process - oops). I found the 911 a blast to drive. I didn't really notice its weight (unlike in Nugget's ///M Roadster, where the weight makes cornering a lot less playful for me). The car has a lot to give in all areas and a lot to teach about driving well. Next came the Boxster S. Nugget said he felt like this car fit like a glove, while the 911 was something new and different. The Boxster did feel more familiar and I did feel more comfortable in it, but I didn't have nearly as much fun. If it were up to me, I'd want the 911. It was more fun to drive slow, more fun to drive fast, and will be a lot more interesting (entertaining? embarrassing?) to autocross.

The day ended with an extended semi-family Christmas. This is the "semi-family" that is "the people I grew up with who aren't actually related to me." Yes, I know it's February, but we're all busy and some no longer live in Austin, so this was the earliest we could all get together at the same time. It was good to get to see everyone again.

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31 comments | Leave a comment
xulong From: xulong Date: February 11th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I almost drove to john and dan's shop yesterday but I didn't know if they'd be open on saturday. I need to get the oil changed.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: February 11th, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're typically not open on Saturdays. This was a special thing for the Spokes group. They weren't doing "real" work that day. Well, other than fixing my, "DAN, YOU BROKE MY CAR!"

I fear we may be hearing a lot more of that yell...
nrubenstein From: nrubenstein Date: February 11th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
The one thing about the Solstice is that it has a great (and highly adjustable) suspension. The Miata is much more satisfying in every other way, though.
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: February 11th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
The suspension is one of the things I'd want to upgrade pretty quickly (looks at wallet) if I didn't get John's MX-5. Improving the suspension is definitely on the list of "easy things to do."
nugget From: nugget Date: February 11th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a serious case of 911 lust now.
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equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: February 12th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
The Saturn Sky Red Line is not in the same range as the MX-5 and the Solstice. It's the Solstice GXP that would be its "competition," but given that they're not really all that different, well... The added price of the Red Line and GXP put them out of my price range, anyway.

As far as I can tell, there wasn't a Saturn Sky in town yesterday. If there was, I would have at least tried to drive it. If I were to go with either of those GM vehicles, the Sky's appearance is more appealing to me than the Solstice's.

The hard top has absolutely zero appeal for me. None of the things it changes are worth the added weight or the "power" part. Cooler than a hardtop MX-5 would be an MX-5 tuned by John and Dan to be an absolute blast to drive. ;)
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nrubenstein From: nrubenstein Date: February 12th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
The Saturn Sky got softer bushings than the Solstice for some reason. Completely unacceptable, even if it is better looking.

The Solstice is faster around an autox course stock, but that's the only reason to buy one.
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decibel45 From: decibel45 Date: February 12th, 2007 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)
You expected handling out of a Pontiac?? :P
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: February 12th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you read anything about the Solstice? At ALL?

Any other Pontiac, no way in hell. But this one? This one does have handling. Pretty darn good handling, in fact. The MX-5 wins on the fun factor, not the raw performance (turning or straight) factor. :-P
decibel45 From: decibel45 Date: February 12th, 2007 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I did look it up when I first saw one, thinking it was a great looking car. Then I saw the anemic power and heavy weight and stopped right there.

Granted, I think they've upped the power (shitty website says 177HP now; I thought it was more like 140HP the first time I looked), so maybe the handling is better too.
esuperlife From: esuperlife Date: February 12th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a feeling if I were to autocross the maxima I would break something. :) It's like 3300 pounds and FWD vs the Miata @ almost 2300. The 40ft turning radius too. I must sound like a broken record by now. Maybe next year I'll get something else.. :)
esuperlife From: esuperlife Date: February 12th, 2007 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I can totally visualize your experience with the salesman. "That's fast enough Monica, that's fast enough!" "but I was only getting started, five more minutes?!" "No, we're done here, give me the keys" haha
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: February 13th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
This afternoon, John, Dan, and I agreed upon a price for their MX-5. Dan said, "I guess I better stop throwing it around corners."

I just looked at him.

I know better. He knows better. There's nothing that could make him stop throwing cars like that around corners. ;)

(Oh, and I'm figuring on announcing I got the car in my journal after we've actually completed the paperwork)
31 comments | Leave a comment