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September 2003 - Pat

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ColoradoB5:
Congratulations to Pat, our September 2003 covergirl...


In the spring of 2000 I began looking for a car to replace my 1987 BMW 528e.  It was getting up there in age and I decided I could afford something a bit more fun.  I knew I wanted a performance-oriented German car, but had to keep it fairly inexpensive.  Since I loved the E28, I always thought my next car would be a newer 3-Series.

As with any major purchase, I like to try out a couple of the competing products myself.  This way, I can really justify why I chose that particular product.  In this case, I decided to look at the VW and BMW products.
I test drove a couple 3s and really liked them.  They were exactly what I thought they would be.  I decided to drive an A4 1.8T just for comparison.  To my surprise, the 1.8T was significantly faster and handled nearly as well.  Additionally, I liked the interior much better than the 3.  This really changed my thought process.

After researching the options more, the obvious choice was the VAG 1.8 liter turbo engine.  It was a strong option as it came from the factory, and many tuners had offerings to increase its performance at a reasonable cost.  It was available in a few different cars, so the next step was deciding on which model to get.


My first thought was to look at the GTI, as it was inexpensive, lightweight and sporty.  I went to a couple VW dealers in town and found they were hard to come by.  I was really impressed with them, but wished they would have been offered with either AWD or RWD.  I had grown up driving RWD cars in the snow and was very comfortable with it.  I actually feel more in control with RWD than FWD in the snow, as I didn’t have much experience with FWD.  In the end, I decided not to go with the GTI because of two factors:  1.  FWD was the only option    2.  It was difficult to find a used GTI with a 1.8T as they had just been introduced.  I didn’t want to buy a new car due to the depreciation aspect.

The aftermarket was going crazy for this engine, so I decided to check out my other options.  It turned out the only non-FWD car offered with this engine at the time was the Audi A4.  I knew these cars were a bit more expensive than the GTI, but decided to see what I could find in my price range.  After searching several places, I located a 1999.5 on AudiWorld.  It was exactly what I was looking for, and $5,000 under the Kelly Blue Book suggested price!  I called the lady and learned she was in Arkansas.  She said the car was ten months old and already had 45,000 miles on it.  The lady drove it from Arkansas to Florida almost every week!  Well, that explained the mileage.  She said the car was in near-perfect condition aside from some road rash.  We spoke for a long time about the car and she said she’d be willing to hold onto it until I could get there to look at it.  She was clearly an enthusiast and very knowledgeable.

The next Wednesday I went to the credit union on my lunch break to apply for a loan.  Forty-five minutes later I walked out with a check in hand.  I called the seller and told her I would be there that Saturday night.  Ooooh....things were looking good!  I was just praying the car was in as good of condition as she said it was.

The rest of the afternoon my mind was buzzing.  Was the car going to be as nice as she said?  Would she really hold onto it?  How quickly could I sell my 528e?  When would I chip it?  What tuner would I go with?  I was on cloud nine.

I finished out the afternoon and left work.  On my way home, I drove right past the credit union I was at just hours before.  No more than 100 yards past the credit union’s driveway a new Toyota 4-Runner pulls right out in front of me.  I T-boned her right between her front and back wheels!  I slammed into her at 25 mph.  We were both fine, but my car was totaled.  While we were waiting for the cops to show up, I saw the lady from the credit union leaving work.  She came over to see what had happened and realized I was the same person she was talking with just a few hours earlier.  We joked that I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to sell my car anymore.


Normally, the insurance company would pay for a rental car for a few weeks until I was able to find a new car.  Fortunately, I thought I might already have one lined up.  State Farm said they’d pay for a rental car for four days and I could leave it in Arkansas.

That weekend I drove to Arkansas and saw the car.  It was everything she had said it was.  I gave her the check, signed the papers and drove it home, leaving the rental car behind.

After three years and a few modifications, the car has evolved into something that does many things well, with few compromises.  The car is low enough and has a stiff enough suspension that it corners well.  At times I would like it to be an inch lower to handle better, but then I know in the winter it wouldn’t have the ground clearance to make it through the mountain snow.  The quattro and snow tires help with weekly trips to the mountains in the winter.  The car is small enough and light enough to change directions quickly, but large enough to carry four people and their gear on a weekend camping trip.  This does what I want it to and, most importantly, is a lot of fun to drive.


Car modifications:
MTM Stage 1
APR snub mount
Neuspeed 19mm rear anti-sway bar (stiff setting)
26% metallic tint
17” x 7.5” Mille Miglia Spiders
Yokohama AVS ES100s    225/45-17   (summer)
Yokohama Guardex F721    225/45-17   (winter)
A8 front brakes with slotted rotors
Zimmerman cross-drilled rear rotors
Pagid Sport brake pads
K&N air filter
Neuspeed/Bilstein height-adjustable struts
VDO Vision boost gauge
Custom-fabricated cell phone mount
Hard-wired cell phone charger
Full red interior lighting
Clear corners
Precision Optics SuperWhite bulbs for high- and low-beams
S4 bypass valve
Debaged

Car modifications still to come:
ChasBar
MTM Stage II

Driver modifications still to come:
quattro club driving school in Steamboat Springs   (February 2004)
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