Thursday, November 7, 2019

Welcome to Tech and Torque (or TnT)

I began my driving career with Mustangs.  I've owned several four cylinder variants and an eight cylinder 5.0 Fox-body LX convertible.  My father worked for a local Ford dealership and was a Ford man growing up.  I was always fascinated with Mustangs. I had a friend in high school that bought a Mach I - that thing made me feel like I was sitting in the cockpit of a rocket ship.  The way my buddy drove it, we're both lucky to still be alive.  I love Mustangs to this day.  Several models/trims are on my "if I win the lottery this is what I'm spending it on" list including Mach I and Boss 302 along with the AC Cobra, of course.

I loved my 5.0 but after my first child, it was time to get something a little more practical, so I traded in the Stang for a 2008 Scion xB.  That was a great little car.  No timing chain to worry about, just standard oil-tires-brakes maintenance.  Outside appearance was misleading.  Everyone that sat in it was surprised at the amount of interior space it had.  I'm 6.2, so yeah, it had to have the headroom and space to fit my long torso.

I had a different friend in high school whose dad bought him a two door Wrangler and wow, was that fun to drive!  Upon taking a new job in 2013, I noticed a co-worker had a Wrangler JKU which took me back to my high school days.  I got bit by the bug - fast forward to 2015 and boom!  I'm trading in my xB for a 2013 Jeep Wrangler JKU.

I loved that Jeep.  Now, I'm not a mechanic. I think I'm pretty handy around the house, but wrenchin' ain't my thing.  However, one of my goals was to challenge myself and try to upgrade the suspension and other components myself.  Not only would this save me hundreds in labor costs, it would provide the satisfaction of accomplishment.

You know the saying - be careful, you might get what you asked for!  It took me an entire weekend (literally two 10-hour days) to get the new suspension (Metalcloak 3.5" lift) installed.  It was all about overcoming the various obstacles that I hit along the way (I now own a propane torch(!), for example).  But in the end I did the work and it came out great.  Road manners were great for a lifted Wrangler and can highly recommend the Metalcloak kits.  But I'll never do that again.

I kept a spreadsheet of all the mods and aftermarket parts which added up to over $8000 before I sold it.  I had a to-do list of over $3000 in updates yet to be done.  Did you know JEEP is an acronym for Just Empty Every Pocket?  It is true.  This is the blessing and the curse for Wrangler owners - their vehicle has more aftermarket options than any other vehicle on the market.

I enjoyed driving and updating the Wrangler for roughly four years, but started thinking about a number of factors:
  • I didn't really go off-road that often, once or twice a year and then only lighter trails (local Jeep Jam event with light-to-moderate difficulty trails)
  • Additional costs for yet more upgrades (JEEP)
  • Additional maintenance costs that were going to occur soon
  • Wrangler's high MPG (15-16MPG, which is actually good for a lifted Jeep)
  • Time suck = I was constantly doing something with the Jeep, changing tops, fixing something, adding another mod of some kind, etc.)
  • Wranglers hold their value very well and consequently, by 2019 I had built up quite a bit of equity
  • I drive a lot for work, covering a number of customers throughout the mid-west.  Flying isn't worth the time or hassle most of the time so I typically rented vehicles.  And you never know exactly what your getting - most vehicles are okay but there's the occasional back-breaking, high-MPG turd on four wheels that sucks the life out of you.
So with these things in mind, I decided to consider selling or trading in the Jeep for something a little more practical that I could drive anywhere (well, maybe not off-road).

Being in the technology business, I knew about Elon Mush and his sale of PayPal to eBay.  When I learned he was going to build EVs with Tesla, it peaked my interest and I started followed the company around 2008/9 including watching the Model S reveal in 2011.  I never considered a Model S -  a little outside of my budget - but was fascinated with the technology that was put into those cars.  This kept my interest in Tesla alive.  Tesla began taking reservations for the Model 3 in March 2016.  I didn't put money down on a reservation because I was afraid the $35,000 trim was going to be too basic for me (and I was right, but more on that later).

Tesla starting selling the Model 3 to employees in July of 2017.  I admit that when I first saw it, I was not impressed.  I thought it looked boring and lacked styling.  So I started looking at the used Model S market.  It had been out for around 5 years by this time, and used 2012-13's were starting to fall within range of something I could afford.  By December of 2017, I had worked with a Tesla Owner Adviser (OA) to find a used 2012 CPO Model S for $28,900.  I had loan approval and could have pulled the trigger but emotionally, I was not ready to sell the Jeep.

There were other reasons - for example, it lacked Autopilot.  While it's still a great car with great tech (it's November of 2019 as I'm writing this and no other manufacturer has yet to match a 2012 Model S in safety and tech), but it didn't have the latest tech from Tesla.  Around this time I had also read some great buying advice:
  1. Purchase an EV with the biggest battery you can afford (provides more range)
  2. Purchase the newest EV you can afford (provides best technology available).
Tesla is constantly updating their vehicles.  For example, Mr. Elon just announced via Twitter that Model 3's made after September of 2019 have improvements that reduce interior noise levels.  So I decided to pass on the 2012 Model S and keep shopping for a newer Tesla.

It's now June of 2019 and guess what?  There are used Model 3's on the market that kinda, sorta approach striking distance of my budget.  I reviewed listings on Tesla CPO website, CarGurus, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace several times a week.  I zeroed in on a Model 3 listing from an owner close by.  After several texts, I drove the family up to the neighboring city to test drive it.  I love it, family loves it, done deal, trigger pulled.

The buying process was not smooth, in part because my banked botched it up twice and it didn't help that the purchase was from a private seller.  What a P.I.A!  It took me over a month to get registration and then Tesla another couple of weeks to get ownership transferred.  Finally, it's mine.  Pics below to prove it.

I will be sharing more information in this blog on my experience.  I will be keeping the content as unique as possible - don't expect constant news updates or simply a "link page".  But if you're a Model 3 owner of just a Tesla fanboy, you'll find information here that is relevant and interesting.  Stay tuned!

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