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So, I've been thinking about this for sometime...several years actually.

I've always enjoyed the thrill of driving. Every place, region I've been too I've enjoyed driving...but for different reasons. And with different vehicles, I can still have a ball.

What urged me to write this was that I drove my girlfriend's 82 Volvo 240 DL this morning to work. It's "making sounds" and she is going to Twin Falls for a long weekend, so I gave her the keys to the Mazda and took the Volvo. Yeah, I'm THAT trusting! A car is a car, and insurance is maxed-out. Well, I had a complete ball with that car this morning...maybe she needs to be more trusting of me!

The car is a tank. A 2.1l I-4 Bosch/Lamba fuel-injection with a whole 107hp and a 4-speed manual. RWD and the Blizzaks are still on. Seats have NO bolstering and the shifter and steering wheel are very thin.
But, I take the usual side roads to work, skipping I-84 and it's construction, through Boise. A little cold this morning and the car coughs a bit when it's parked outside, 238k miles will do that. Let her warm up a bit, no heated seats or auto climate control and slide a Robert Earl Keen CD in the old Blaupunkt stereo. Back out the driveway and off my street, down the road we go. Older european sedans have a smooth and quiet ride. No matter how old they are, they are just solid. My dad had a 1983 T-Bird Turbo Coupe, my uncle still has it and keeps it in excellent condition but this thing feels tighter than that car from the same vintage. Driving this car, you feel you can get anywhere on any road and it'll get you there.

So, I get the car up to speed, shifting through the gears and settle on a speed. A few slight curves and the car rolls nicely through them, never gets upset either. The car isn't heavy, but it's so well planted. I don't think it weighs more than 3000 lbs, the T-Bird weighed 2900 lbs! This car isn't fast at all, but that tractor-like 4 is doing it's job just revving slowly in it's sweet spot (no tach, just a big clock) and is rather smooth considering it's age, mileage, and familial lineage. Slow down a bit for a curve, down to 3rd, and get on the gas...not exactly a rocket but the power is back and just enough to hold a nice line and not get the rear-end out (maybe it's the snow tires). Holding onto that thin-rimmed steering wheels makes it more of a challenge.

So, I pull into the parking lot, with a bit of a grin. I did a little work on the way to work...it was so satisfying.

We buy cars nowadays, even my 3 GT, that are so easy to drive at low speeds, and even higher speeds, that we miss out on the gratification of pushing a vehicle hard. I really like the Mazdaspeed 3 because of it's performance but when can I use it's max capabilities on my way to work? Can't really...not even with my 3.

I grew up driving in Texas, there is gratification in just setting the cruise control and blasting down an interstate or two-lane highway. I lived in Utah during college and it was fun to get the truck dirty, driving down logging or mining roads...take treks in winter to Wyoming, Idaho, or Colorado. There was enjoyment in pushing the E430 4matic through some nasty snowstorms in mountains where SUVs were having trouble.

I travel a bit for work and usually rent a 4wd, it is as enjoyable to be doing environmental siting studies in the middle of Nebraska during winter as much as driving through the Smokie Mtns in the spring. There is a challenge to the driving situation...whether it be driving down all dirt/mud/frozen snow roads and wondering if you get stuck, who'll help you...and be damned sure you don't get stuck. Imagine the amusement of the Hertz car wash guy when you turn in an Infiniti QX56 that went from blue to brown!

But, I yearn sometimes for a very simple and reliable vehicle...and let it challenge me in driving. Whether it be a 66 F100 with a I-6 and 3-on-the-tree, gen-1 Miata, a base Focus (or whatever), or that Volvo.

She wants to get rid of it once we're married, I'll let her have the Mazda...I'll take the Volvo and maybe pay a visit to IPD. Like her dad said, it's a tractor with 4-doors. Tractors are fun to drive too...trust me, I've driven backhoes through SLC at speeds higher than I should.

I'm addicted. Are you?

(the whole reason of this post was to get others to chime in with similiar enjoyment or stories)

I should add, that I do get alot of enjoyment out of my 3. It's a wonderful handling vehicle, great performance for 90% of my application, and is well-built and has many nice features for the type of travelling I do. It's been a great companion over the past 2 years...and it shall be for much longer. Plus, it fits much of my requirements when I bought it.
 

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Great post. I agree with you 100% - it's more fun to push a slower car/bike fast than a faster car/bike.

I had a 1989 Plymouth Voyager minivan as my first car. 5000+lbs, 160HP V6, and a terrible 4-speed automatic transmission. And yet that thing was so much fun to whip around corners (using the foot-mounted emergency brake to get the back end out) and dart through the streets.

The Mazda3 has some of that too, though. With springs and a 5-speed in the 2.0L, you can really shoot out of some corners with reckless abandon. If only the Mz3 was RWD . . . :)
 

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I had a sunroof in my old Saturn & I loved opening it at night and cruising down the interstate looking at the stars :)

I miss having a sunroof :(
 

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Awesome read tex. Interesting, and like you, i do like challenges. However my driving experience is limited so i cant say that for a car

[quote author=johnf514 link=topic=109117.msg2241811#msg2241811 date=1208464811]
Great post. I agree with you 100% - it's more fun to push a slower car/bike fast than a faster car/bike.

I had a 1989 Plymouth Voyager minivan as my first car. 5000+lbs, 160HP V6, and a terrible 4-speed automatic transmission. And yet that thing was so much fun to whip around corners (using the foot-mounted emergency brake to get the back end out) and dart through the streets.

The Mazda3 has some of that too, though. With springs and a 5-speed in the 2.0L, you can really shoot out of some corners with reckless abandon. If only the Mz3 was RWD . . . :)
[/quote]
I know what you mean. I have the auto, and i find it quite fun darting through some corners.
 

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I also had a saturn; I had the 4 door SL-1 with a stick. My most enjoyable was my 03 Mitsu Eclipse with a stick. That car was great to push the limits with. I think I might have more fun with my 3 if it wasn't an Auto, but the wife refused to drive a stick.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
[quote author=johnf514 link=topic=109117.msg2241811#msg2241811 date=1208464811]
Great post. I agree with you 100% - it's more fun to push a slower car/bike fast than a faster car/bike.

I had a 1989 Plymouth Voyager minivan as my first car. 5000+lbs, 160HP V6, and a terrible 4-speed automatic transmission. And yet that thing was so much fun to whip around corners (using the foot-mounted emergency brake to get the back end out) and dart through the streets.

The Mazda3 has some of that too, though. With springs and a 5-speed in the 2.0L, you can really shoot out of some corners with reckless abandon. If only the Mz3 was RWD . . . :)
[/quote]

Sometimes I wish I would have bought a base model 3 or even when Ford was offering the ultra-basic Focus hatch for $10grand! Pay cash for the car, do a few little suspension upgrades, and just have a blast in an frugal and fun little car. But, then I'd want a few more creature comforts and would want a little more...so, it's probably better I got the 3 GT.
 

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this is going 2 sound so wrong...
but in all honesty...
the most enjoyment ive ever gotten driving any car...
was driving my old suzuki aerio when i was buzzed. (4 drinks in me nothing at all really)
with my old system in the back.. blasting drop dead gorgeous..

i had my friend/hook up buddy bianca (double d's and a size 2 waist) by my side flashing me cuz she was drunk.
and my boy eric in the back making out with my other friend jenny..

ohhhh good timeesss :p


and i say good times cuz i was young and i now realize the dangers of driving even the tiniest bit drunk.. (sister got a dui) let alone with a girl with a nice chest distracting your from the road.
 
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