REPOST: The Tuner in Me

Note: This is a repost from my previous/personal website. This was originally written in February of 2013. There is a reason I'm re-posting it here. A future post will reveal the intentions.

As you can read a few posts back I had a car accident in my 2009 Honda Civic Si. The external damage in that post looks kind of rough but surprisingly it's not why my insurance company ended up totaling my car. All airbags deployed in the collision and cost more to repair than the external damage to the Civic. The driver seat alone cost between $800-$1200 and since the seat had an airbag embedded it needed replaced. All that to say that my Civic is now dead and sitting in a tow yard somewhere. Poor little guy.

I've wanted a Civic Si since I was 17 years old and Honda had recently revamped the Civic line to it's eighth glorious generation. I was in love with the Si model in particular for a few reasons: - It was only sold in a stick shift and had a good amount of power and handling. - It was Honda's return from the seventh generation Si hatchback to the (much preferred) Coupe and Sedan styling. - I loved, loved LOVED the look of the new design. It was sporty with a lot of round but sharp edges and had fantastic lines. I still think it's an outstanding design and was really refreshing at the time it was released.

The 7th Generation Civic Si

The 7th generation Civic Si. The mom-van styling in need of a desperate overhaul.

The redesigned 8th generation Honda Civic Si. My first love in a car.

The redesigned 8th generation Honda Civic Si. My first love in a car.

Unfortunately buying a brand new car as a 17 year old while working fast food and going to college isn't exactly feasible. That's not to say I didn't make a fool out of myself by trying and walking away with the salesman wondering if I seriously thought I'd be able to get financed at my age with no co-signer. So I tabled my dreams and drove my Saturn Aura home like a gentleman. That is until I plowed it into a wood chipper that didn't have brake lights in the middle of the night a few weeks later...

After a few years of hard work and establishing myself I was once again interested in the 8th generation Si and in the market for a car so I bought one used. It was a black 2009 Civic Si with 50,000 miles and you'd think I'd have won the lottery with how stoked I was to be able to own this car. It was a milestone of the hard work I'd done to become an independent adult mixed with the somewhat younger aspirations to have a great sporty car. I initially hated the seats but after a few minutes of driving I became right at home in the firm edged bucket seats. I enjoyed many road trips and daily driving in my Civic but alas it wasn't long for this world as I only had it for a year and a half before State Farm put her down.

In case you've never totalled a car (not that I recommend everyone try it or anything) the process can put you into a bind both financially and in the way of needing to find another vehicle quickly. In my case I was given a week worth of rental coverage which meant I had a week to find and purchase my next vehicle. Not expecting to be in the car market I started looking for something in the $25k or less range with stick shift and at least 200hp. The selections I made to compare in order to cover as many bases as possible and try to make sure I was choosing a car I would really enjoy and (God willing) continue to drive for at least 5 years were:

  • 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
  • 2010-2013 Volkswagen GTI
  • 2012-2013 Honda Civic Si
  • 2013 Ford Fusion

During my test driving I held off on the Fusion as it was a last resort choice for me as it's not exactly what I was looking for, but we receive discount pricing with Ford through Courtney's employment partnership via Apple. Upon entering the Ford dealership I told them that I was looking to test drive the Fusion unless they had a manual sporty car that had at least 200hp. Unbeknownst to me Ford had released an ST model of the Focus for 2013 earlier in 2012 so we took a look. I initially thought the Tangerine Scream model that was in front of the dealership was really outgoing but not outside of my comfort zone (I'd always wanted my Civic to be Orange Pearl) so we took it out for a test drive. As with all of my test drives I was gun shy from my accident and I always feel awkward driving a car hard on a test drive. I went home and started researching; I liked what I found. The shakedown of the 2013 Focus ST ST2 specs are:

  • Turbocharged 252hp engine
  • 270 foot lbs of torque
  • Six speed manual transmission

Needless to say this is the car I purchased in the magnificently distinct color of Tangerine Scream.

Tangerine Scream oozes the essence of the boy racer in me

Tangerine Scream oozes the essence of the boy racer in me

Most people I've discussed my car with disagree with my choice on the color but it's grown to be one of my favorite things about my car. Outside of the looks, speed and handling I also really enjoy having 4 doors and the hatchback. I know this car will be able to support the future (read: children) with no problem and has already been helpful in moving things for my mom as we cleared out her storage unit the first week I had the car. Driving the Focus ST is an absolute blast and is easily the best car I've ever owned making it my favorite. This was my first new car purchase and I've already heard what a stupid decision it was. Unfortunately this car hasn't been produced in the last few years for the US market and wasn't available used. This coupled with the fact that I really wanted a no-nonsense ownership experience for the next few years and the discounts we received from Ford helped with the deprecation that's incurred with buying a new car made this purchase a no-brainer for me.

Looking back on the cars I've owned and loved I'm realizing that I enjoy compact "tuner" cars that make the driving experience fun. One day I may break into the higher-end vehicle range and find a mid-size or full-size vehicle that I really enjoy driving but for now I'm happy with my boy racer.