It’s been a little over two months since we bought the 2007 VW GTI and I am finally getting to drive it. Yes, it’s my car and I did drive it home from the dealership. But that same afternoon, when we should have been basking in the glow of new vehicle ownership, our 1995 Saab died. Not only did reverse gear, which had been grinding, go away completely, but when Bill turned the ignition, it screamed.
The Saab was towed to Swedish Solution, the garage in Cleveland Heights which has worked with us since the ‘80s, when I brought home Leontyne, my first Saab. The mechanics discuss in depth any problems and postpone (sometimes forever) any that can be put off until another day. This time, they were thoughtful enough to find a rebuilt transmission so the final invoice was more than we could afford, but still payable, if you know what I mean. The Saab returned home a week ago.
Another reason I haven’t driven the GTI much is a couple’s thing. Bill, as you know, is a gearhead; he loves automobiles and loves to drive. And he is so loving driving this GTI. Consequently, when we go anywhere together, I’m in the passenger seat. For the past two months, that’s mostly where I’ve sat, playing with the radio, the seat adjustment, the a/c and the windows, and watching Bill operate the paddle shifters, contemplating if I’ll ever be able to handle them.
Finding a “pre-owned” GTI, a rare version of what automobile writers call a “pocket rocket,” was a many weeks-long search on autotrader.com. Two 2-door models were in two showrooms within a reasonable 25-mile ride from our house. After a test drive when both Bill and I droolingly voiced similar “this is nice” sentiments, our rational brains resumed control and we concluded two doors are too few. We need four.
Not that we schlepp kids and car seats or even friends. But only bitty children and size zero models could comfortably get in the 2-door’s rear seats. We need easy access, mostly for the cat carrier when trips to the vet are necessary. Juggling that big handled box into such a narrow space would have made the kitties crazier than they already get visiting Dr. Linda.
We finally found two 4-door GTIs; one in Conneaut, which is in Pennsylvania, the other at Spitzer in Amherst, near Lorain, almost 50 miles away, which is where we went. I won’t write much about the actual buying process as it was so stereotypical it was laughable. Rob, the sales guy, was perky; we were reticent even ‘though we knew we wanted to buy this car. Rob left us to check with his manager; we listened to the piped in music, Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” which I interpreted as a good omen. A too-high price was written on paper; I wrote a much lower figure. Rob, again, left to check with his manager. We compromised. Bill smiled. I smiled. Rob smiled. The paperwork guy talked about extended warranties. We said “no.” Deal done.
The ride home was the last significant mileage I’ve put on the car, and fifty miles is really not significant.
Are we still in love? Watch this Top Gear video where host Jeremy Clarkson claims the the GTI is bringing life to our parched and broken world. OK, that assertion is extreme, but the car is pretty cool.
Bill’s already been checked out by a guy with a tuner, (a Japanese, Asian or European car with performance modifications) who wanted to race on Monticello Boulevard. One glimpse of Bill’s white hair made him change his mind; the guy didn’t think my sweet old geezer was worth taking on. Hah! Bill hasn’t had this much fun driving since his Datsun days.
The 2007 VW GTI won the Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Award in the “Driving Fun” category. It was one of Car and Driver magazine’s "10 Best" , and was name the “Car of the Year” by Automobile Magazine. Theautochannel.com called it “a hot little roller skate.” A recent survey of vehicles most likely to get speeding tickets ranked the VW GTI as 10th and said that male GTI drivers are twice as likely to get a ticket than the average driver. Buried deeper in the story was the gender breakdown: 44% male, 56% female.
I’d better watch my right foot. This little pony doesn’t want to trot, it wants to run.
Targeted at young, tech-savvy consumers; the VW GTI is number one on the list of the top 30 cars with the highest concentrations of under 34-year old owners. So the upshot is that this car I am driving, which could be my last, is not an old lady car, although I fear that I am driving like an old lady.
Last Saturday, one of the corollaries of life came true: Do not fall in love with a material possession or soon after acquisition, it will be chipped, nicked, scratched, dented, dinged, dimpled, punctured, ripped, snagged or cut. In other words, it will be blemished, diminishing the perfection and value of the object. My cockamamie interpretation is that I have, in a minor league way, disobeyed the first commandment —You shall not worship any other god but YHWH — and need a comeuppance, a memento of Who’s On First.
I pulled out of the garage and whacked the passenger side mirror, bending it backward. It snapped back into place, but the clear plastic cover over the turn indicator light was broken into four pieces. A trip to Home Depot later, Bill got the parts super-glued together.
Will the fix withstand an 80 mile per hour pummeling? Will it hold for the life of the car? We’ll see.
*Fahrvergnügen: That’s German for “driving enjoyment.” Deserts is an archaic word meaning “to receive what one deserves.” It is pronounced like desserts, which is why it confuses people.
Growing up and into adulthood, my mom frequently told me “You think too much. Don’t think so much.” She probably wanted to spare me the heartbreak and sadness she had in her life. Her advice didn’t stick.
Now in my 60s, encouraged by my husband Bill and a number of friends who’ve read my long, possibly tedious, e-mails on various subjects over the years, I'm putting my thoughts out for the world, or whoever stumbles across this site, to read.
You can’t post comments on this site, but if you’re compulsed to say something, you can drop me a note.
To the love of my life
My husband Bill is my editor, critic, personal Crayola King, and the designer of this site. He makes me better than I am.