I guess it all started back in early 2001 when I was able to buy my first ‘expensive’ car, a 1992 BMW 525i for NZ$18,000 which was originally priced at about NZ$113,000 when brand new. It was awesome, and I loved driving it around every single moment I had it.
1992 BMW E34 525i
After having it for 6 years I sold it when I came back to Australia in 2007, and I really missed it. What I loved about it was the driving comfort, the features, the sunroof, the sound system, and the cool factor of being in a luxury car… I had a smile on my face all the damn time!
When I came back to Australia I wanted to keep that smile on my face, so I bought a new Ford XR6 Turbo.
2007 Ford BFII XR6 Turbo
I certainly loved driving it while I had it and it definitely had the cool factor, but after 4 years with it I decided to change my lifestyle and get a 4WD. It was still important for me to have that smile on my face, so I ended up with the unique Toyota FJ Cruiser.
2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser
I loved the places I was able to go in the FJ Cruiser, and it kept me smiling all the way. It was a lot of fun, but while it still had that cool factor, it was a bit different to a luxury car or a performance car. After 4 years I was over that too, and I decided to go back to the BMW. I ended up with a 2010 BMW 535i.
In this case I wanted the luxury and the comfort of the BMW, but I also wanted performance. The 535i was just a little bit faster than the XR6 Turbo I had, so I figured I’d get the enjoyment from both worlds.
I was right. I’m really loving the driving experience in this car.
2011 BMW F10 535i
This model BMW has 3 modes of drive: Normal, Sport, and Sport+.
Normal mode: a comfort and fuel efficient setting. There’s noticeable turbo lag when taking off from a standing start, which apparently helps with the fuel economy. But it’s just…. boring. I use ‘boring mode’ when I have cruise control activated, so that it’s very comfortable and economic. And boring.
Sport mode: ah, now we’re getting somewhere! This mode modifies the accelerator response and gear shift timings. The steering response tightens up, and the chassis is tightened up too. It makes for a far more dynamic, responsive, ‘sporty’ driving experience. I drive in this mode nearly all the time, and it’s a demon on the street.
Sport+ mode: I haven’t used this mode yet, and I have no interest in using it. It disables Dynamic Stability Control which removes the traction control. The result is your wheels spinning if you accelerate hard from a standing start, and it’s much easier to slide the rear end out when you go around corners so you can drift it if you want to. I don’t want any of that, so I just don’t use it.
When driving around in Sport mode, the car handles very differently from Normal mode. It’s like you’re driving a completely different car. I’m absolutely loving it.
But… I’m already looking forward to the next car.
No, I’m not tired of the BMW I have now, I’m just aware that this isn’t the car I want to keep for a very long time. It’s not my ‘dream car’.
I’ve found my dream car. It’s a 640i Gran Coupe.
And this video about is awesome. I hope you’ll take the time to watch it, and maybe you’ll see why I love this car so much.
I might even lease the 2014 version for a couple years (and receive tax deductions for it) and then pay out the residual at the end of the lease. The reasoning behind this is when you lease a vehicle it can’t be more than 7 years old at the end of the lease. The residual is usually a bit less than the expected value of the vehicle at that time, so I’ll be paying the lump sum value of the vehicle in 2021, but which I’ve been enjoying since 2019. I’ve got it all worked out!
Thinking recently about this journey I’ve been on over the past 15 years, and the journey I’m already planning into the near future, has helped me realise that I’m a bit of an enthusiast. Cars aren’t just a means of transport from A to B for me. They’re something more. A lot more.
I’ve been looking into it, and there’s probably four types of people in relation to cars.
- Haters: they hate or disapprove of cars for whatever reason and just don’t drive at all.
- Drivers: they drive cars only because it’s an essential means of transport for them, but they have no interest in it. This is most people.
- Driving enthusiasts: they love the feeling they get from their driving experience, in whatever cars that give them these feelings.
- Car enthusiasts: they love cars so much they want to understand everything about cars. They want to pull them apart and rebuild them and incessantly talk about them with others who love doing the same.
I’m #3, the driving enthusiast, wanting certain types of cars because of the enjoyable and rewarding feelings I’ll have with them. I have ZERO interest in the mechanics of it, of understanding how it all works, etc. I couldn’t tell you how an engine works. If it stops working I’ll take it somewhere to get fixed. I’m only interested in how I’ll feel when I’m driving it.
I’ve got a friend who’s been more of a car enthusiast than a driving enthusiast. I used to think of him as a ‘mechanic’, but he doesn’t do it for a living, he does it as a hobby because he loves it. And he’s on forums talking about cars, engines and modifications with others. He’s definitely a car enthusiast.
That doesn’t interest me though. I’m a driving enthusiast. I’m in it for the feels. For the cool factor. For the smiles. I love it.
What about you? Which type of car person are you?
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