By on March 11, 2009

On business in Vegas last week I came across a smokin deal on an ’06 M Roadster and in a moment of spontaneity I signed the dotted line. I was then confronted with a 1200 mile drive in an unfamiliar car. Since I arrived in Vegas by plane, I was without my usual road trip conglomeration of hose clamps, duct tape, and other essential tools. With the return airline ticket canceled, armed with a Diet Pepsi and a $50 Radio Shack radar detector, I set off to the Midwest. The S54 engine chewed up 1200 miles of asphalt and returned 25.6mpg. Not bad for over 100hp per normally aspirated liter. Would I have tried that in the 23 year old BMW M636CSI I bought last fall from FL? Nope. That car arrived on a truck. What an incredible bonding experience to bring your new car home on a long trip. Now it was my intent to bring this car back to a less saturated market and sell it for a small profit. But now I’ve kinda got a thing for her. Have you had a memorable new car bonding experience?

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41 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: How Do You Bond With A New Car?...”

  • avatar

    I bond with my car everytime I break the law, like running red lights and stop signs or illegal u-turns (on accident of course).

    I pat my car on the dashboard because we got through a horrifyingly nerve-wracking situation together unscathed. :)

    Also bond whenever I wash it. It’s weird.

    But when I got my new car, I got over it within a week. I felt less special everytime I saw someone else driving my exact model and color. And now it’s getting refreshed so my new one will look old once the new one comes out in a few months. :/

  • avatar
    Edmond Dantes

    When I got my S2000, I set out on a search for some excellent roads. There’s nothing In Tampa, so I ventured outward, and eventually found a few roads that were really very fun. It was about a 200 mile drive, but my mileage was probably closer to 15 MPG. I didn’t really care at the time.

    Not as good as yours, but if I ever do I buy a used car from somewhere else in the country, there’s no way I’m going to have it shipped. I’m taking a long weekend. In fact, that’s something I really do want to do at some point.

  • avatar

    13 years ago my Prizm had been totalled in an accident. My brother in law offered to sell me his Pontiac Fiero cheap. I met him in DC and got the car…then had to learn to drive a stick shift in DC traffic.
    After an afternoon of killing the car at busy intersections I figured I was ready to drive back to the Bluegrass state. 800 miles in a finicky, unfamilar, and cramped car. The appalachian hills (I’m from Nevada. These things we have on this end of the country are not mountains) are a fun teacher when you’re still learning to drive a standard.
    By the end of the trip I had gotten to know the little beast pretty well and had fallen in love with the handling. I’d say we’d bonded pretty well.
    While I didn’t own the car very long (6 months or so) I really enjoyed driving it, when it ran.

  • avatar

    Tailpipe, oh wait, um, I mean autocross and HPDE’s.

  • avatar

    I don’t remember. The last time I bonded with a new car was 1994. We’ve been together ever since.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I detail inspect it and see what they were thinking when they designed it and built it. I read this stuff like braille, although I don’t claim to really know that much compared to an actual car engineer. I do get a real strong feel for if they designed it and built it like they like their jobs and like cars andcare how it turns out. 1991 MR2 was wonderful to take apart and repair, it had some known defects but it was wonderful. 1969 beetle was equally nice although almost a junkyard example when I got it. I get this looking at wrecks in stateside european junkyards back to 1950s cars I have seen. 2CV gave me that feeling. X-body Olds OMega was kind of the opposite. Model A fords feel good.

  • avatar

    Bought my Miata in South Florida, drove it back to South Texas. Yeah. We bonded. The smile didn’t leave my face for about a week.

  • avatar

    romanjetfighter:I pat my car on the dashboard because we got through a horrifyingly nerve-wracking situation together unscathed.

    I thought I was the only one who was crazy enough to do that!

    I also try to give my car encouragement before attempting something vaguely dangerous…and promise not to do it again.

  • avatar

    I bought my ’02 Audi S4 Avant in NJ and drove it back to MN. Same sort of spur of the moment in NY for a business trip, canceled my return flight and drove home. I loved that car and bonded every time in a parking lot when a guy did a double-take and said “Sweet ride” only to see the dumb-founded “huh?” look on his girlfriends face…

    It got totaled in January and I bought an Infiniti G35 coupe. It’s nice, but I haven’t bonded with it, at least not yet. It is more of a hit with the ladies though…

    Truth be told I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t have another 02 S4 Avant by the end of the year……’as a winter car….’ Not sure it will be the same though…

  • avatar

    i’m replacing my boring-but-reliable 2005 Jetta on saturday with a 1988 Saab 900 SPG.

    How much bonding do think we’ll really need to do? I’ve always wanted one. I suppose the road trip i’m taking with it next thursday (if i determine it to be in reasonable condition) will be the bonding experience.

  • avatar

    The car wash.

    I’m not talking about taking it down to Brown Bear and getting the special. I mean breaking out the mitts and scrubbing.

    Doing this lets you know the styling peculularities of your car, as well as take notice of any rock chips/blemishes. I feel I don’t really “know” the car until I wash it.

    Here’s to hoping I’ll be able to road trip from Dallas back to Seattle, provided my sister checks out this car for me and gives me the OK.

  • avatar

    I bond with my new cars by taking them apart.

    Yup – brand new – I drive it over to my former employer (during my college years) and I take the car apart to determine where the upgrades will be installed.

    This time around, I only upgraded the head-unit, front and rear speakers, amp rack, subwoofer, HD radio, satellite radio, and bluetooth hands-free kit. The GTI handling doesn’t do anything to annoy me, so I won’t be making any suspension upgrades.

    I continue the bonding experience by maintaining the cars myself as much as I can.


  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    Oh, good. I’m not the only one who affectionately pats his car’s dashboard. I’d have to concur that a road trip is the best bonding experience a man can have with his car. You’re sure to drive on a variety of roads, at different times, and at different speeds, some of them extra-legal. My current car and I bonded on a three-week trip up and down the West Coast: Crater Lake, Portland, up to Bonneville Dam, then Kennewick, cut across Washington to Seattle, north to Victoria, BC via the ferry (great city), then down the coast to home. What a trip! And no tickets!: the icing on the cake.

  • avatar

    Any trip with the S54 is bonding, preferably twisty, windows (or roof) down.

    Justin, small thing, it’s M635CSi you mean I’m sure (rather than 636).

  • avatar

    Picked up my S2000 from the dealer and in about twenty minutes was on Angeles Crest, and then drove up Angeles Forest Hwy, turned around at the 14, and came back, and went home. I kept the revs below 5k, but it was still damn nice. Night time, no traffic.

    Also picked up a 911 in Santa Cruz once, spent the night in Monterey, and then drove it down to LA the next day, taking the 1 all the way down, plus a few side excursions on remote, backcountry roads.

  • avatar

    find the beginning of a twisty, deserted country road, roll the windows down, put back the moonroof, turn off the car, listen to the crickets chirp and the wind rustle the corn, close your eyes and turn your head up to the sun, open your eyes, start the car, turn off the traction control, rev ‘er up, let loose the dogs of war.

  • avatar

    I got my 1984 RX7 for my daughter when she turned 16 (in 1994.) It was a one-owner car that came from a local old-timer used car dealer and had belonged to a relative of his. A quick test-drive and looking-over, and it came home to surprise her the next time she looked in the driveway. To shorten a long story, we had problems insuring her in it, so she got a red Civic hatchback instead. I initially didn’t know what to do with the RX7, and one day I drove it to visit a friend who lived in the back country near the ocean – about a hundred-mile trip over lots of freeway but some twisty two-lanes too. On that trip, especially on the way back in the rain, the car sold itself to me. I still have it.

    In general, I’m one of those who thinks washing a car is a way to find out about it and bond with it.

  • avatar

    Buy it with hard earned cash and put 13,000 miles on it in 10 months!

  • avatar

    I bought my 96 Subaru SVX LSi this summer, days before the 4th. I picked in up in CT and on the way back to UpState NY I passed a trooper sitting at a U-Turn just inside the NY border. I had a single tempt plate in the back window, no registration in the window, and no inspection sticker. Moments latter I am sitting by the side of the road as a very nice young lady steps out of the car and asks me for my license and proof that I had just bought the car. 5 minutes later I am on my way home ticket free. Thats and a few good corners is how I bonded with mine.

  • avatar

    I bond by modifying the car so that it doesn’t annoy me and does everything I expect it to. Once a car reaches that state, the bond is complete. It is then continually reinforced by ritual maintenance.

  • avatar

    Back in 2002 I decided to buy an Acura RSX. There are two Acura dealers in Denver, so they were perfectly smug about charging me full price plus trying to stuff extra accessories on top.

    I did some research and sent out some faxes. Three weeks later I flew out to San Francisco and vacationed for a week before picking up my new dark blue Type-S for $3000 under MSRP from Oakland Acura. Nice dealership, everything went very smoothly.

    Due to arcane tax laws I coudn’t *drive* my new car in Cali, so the dealership gave me the keys to a demonstrator RSX during my vacation. I spent the week with a good friend from Denver who was very pleased that I’d chosen to come out to see her. She’s a car lover as well; I let her thrash the dealer car to her heart’s content and had fun watching.

    If I was buying the car for an out of state purchase I didn’t have to pay sales tax, but it meant I couldn’t drive the car inside the state. So the internet sales rep was supposed to drive the car for me, while I followed in his TL. He handed me the RSX keys and smiled, and I spent the next hour trying to keep up with him. He knew how to drive.

    We reached the state line, which had a huge gas station. He filled up the RSX for me (proving that the car had been delivered outside the state), we shook hands, and I took off. 22 hours and 1300 miles later and I was home.

  • avatar

    Those special bonds, that we, man have I could classify as merely strange, yet adorable and beauty saturated. How we want to be alone with our new cars! The silence. Vast land. The murmuring silencer. You stretch your legs like a pampered cat on Sunday morning until your yearning claws clutch the throttle. So much for PT. You slowly pet the new leather steering wheel in a way it would make your wife blush, and Freud could have writtten even a new book about a strange glare men have in their eyes when first time observing the bulging hips on their diablo red sports coupes.What is a smell of roses compared to the smell of a new interior? The bouquet of engineering and material carnucopia seducing you by perfume of newness and virginity.The animals release special chemicals when dating and mating,what a blessing, my car does it all the time. Like a cat winking his whiskers you blink the rev meter and it waves like a miniature excalibur inviting you to conquer the terra incognita.
    You play around with power controls for your seat in a manner a composer does before playing his new symphony on the grand piano.An uvertire for hedonism. An orchestra of 10 speakers supported by a titanic boom of a woofer, sendind the tremors of delight through the whole body of a pleasure stormed audio tempest.
    The chrome nuggets leaking their cold tears of joy from gauge rims to door handles, from brake pads to control buttons invite your fingers to do a strange Braille as if reading the inscripts of ancient engravings with secrets of alchemy. You leave trails of DNA , your fingerprints of coveting the road. the huge orbed 70 inch screen with the highest resolution of nature HD has only one program. The reality show of a black serpent through which a man is about to conduct a velocity crime.Her black body sewn together by a white thread in the middle is about to start her deadly dance ,moving her torso from side to side, faster and faster ,until she strips you of your last morsels of common sense.Be you damned Fatima, be you damned Temida.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Drive it. Somewhere scenic and expansive, preferably a thousand miles, with the radio, CD, MP3, etc. turned off. Listen to the drivetrain, feel the dynamic behavior; drive far enough to feel the shift points intuitively. Put the top down if you can.

    Some first trips in new cars within three days of receipt:

    1980 Triumph Spitfire – Boston to Montreal through Vermont, then down the west side of Lake Champlain, stop at Fort Ticonderoga, return to Boston — in one long day. Yup, bonded.

    1984 Jeep CJ7 — Beverly, Massachusetts “down east” the coast of Maine, then inland north to Aroostook County looking for a dark spot for astronomy, then Baxter State Park, over to the White Mountains, down to Portsmouth, return to Cape Ann.

    1988 VW Jetta Carat — Beverly, Mass. to Buffalo, backtrack to Rochester, over to Toronto, up to Montreal, keep going to Quebec City, return to Cape Ann.

    1993 Jeep Wrangler — Cambridge, Mass. to Menlo Park, CA alone in four days, paint color of the trademark Jeep grill completely obscured by murdered bugs when driving the Great Salt Lake Causeway at ramming speed.

    1993 Ford SVT Cobra — Orange County, CA to Petaluma, CA via as many blue highways as possible. Bought a guitar at Tall Toad Music in Petaluma, return to OC.

    1994 Ford Mustang GT Convertible — Menlo Park, CA to Scottsdale, AZ and back.

    1996 Ford SVT Cobra — Irvine, CA to Lake Tahoe up US395 along the eastern slope of the Sierras, then to Reno and return to OC the way I came.

    1998 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC — Irvine, CA to San Francisco, then on to Yosemite, then to Mammoth, on to Lee Vining, Bishop, Lone Pine, Lake Isabella, over to Edwards and China Lake, and back to OC.

    1996 Corvette CE LT4 Convertible (used) — Scottsdale, AZ to Palm Springs to Death Valley, back to Barstow, over to Bakersfield, over to and up California State Route 46 and the James Dean Memorial Junction, on to San Jose.

    2004 Mercury Marauder — Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, up the coast through San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, San Simeon, Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz, over to Modesto, down Route 99, return to L.A.

    2006 Cadillac XLR-V — Los Angeles area canyon roads, up PCH to Ventura, inland to Fillmore, up to Solvang, southeast to Palm Springs, dogleg to the Salton Sea, over to San Juan Capistrano, return to L.A.

    In each case, one trip; bonded.


  • avatar

    I read the manual.
    Not quite cover-to-cover, but all of the interesting parts. Of course, that’s for bedtime reading after I spend a while in the driveway acquainting myself with all of the features and switches and menus and options and adjustments and …. I go through this little ritual even for rental cars, loaners, friends’ cars.

    I don’t know what I’d substitute for that in a classic car but I expect some underhood time would do it. Doing a bit of maintenance and repair is always a bonding experience, sort of like caring for a sick friend or kid.

    Growing to understand and live with/adjust for/appreciate the weird little quirks of an older car is another one. I’ve got a page-long list for my current steed, from the funny little bump feeling the transmission makes to the weather preferences of the window switches.

    And, of course, I drive. A lot of bonding is getting to know how hard I can push in corners and what it feels like at the far reaches of the speedometer.

    The other way is co-bonding with friends. My best memories of my car are of it packed full of rambunctious pals going somewhere that I’ve totally forgotten. What I remember is being squeezed into the front bench with the heater on and the functional windows open, going up a hill in the middle of summer, singing along to Beatles tunes.

    P.S.: I, too, am a dash-patter, usually along with an endearment like “old girl.” I got it from my mom.

  • avatar

    I guess I just don’t get to emotional about cars anymore. They are all dollar signs to me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love cars but it’s like loving baseball and not having a favorite team. I just love to go sit in the sun, drink beer, eat a dog and watch the game.

    However, I guess you can say I had a bonding experience last night. Over the weekend, I rolled my Toyota powered Suzuki Samurai. While driving it to the shop to begin repairs last night, the (new >300km) motor stuck. I was stranded about as far from civilization as I could get in these parts. Lucky for me a friend came along…

  • avatar

    Hand washing. That is really the only way to truly appreciate all the curves and design features. Almost like a blind person feeling your face.

    Plus, it allows you to closely inspect the car for scratches and chips.

  • avatar

    I bought a 100k mile Alfa Romeo Milano Verde back in 2003 in San Luis Obispo while out in CA on business. I live in Baltimore. I got to take the car up and down the PCH, putter around LA and Santa Monica including a great afternoon swooping through the Angeles crest and a driving tour with the local Alfa club.

    When it was time to leave, I headed out on the 10 and spent the next 4 days traversing the country and stopping to see the sites along the way.

    Only saw three cops the whole time, 2 of them in MD.

    The Alfa performed great the whole time though the ABS pump overheated a few times during the desert runs and the rear shocks were toast.

    Sadly, I just recently gave it up to someone who could spend the time getting all the odds and ends sorted out, I just don’t have the time to fool with it these days. Now I’m saving up to import an SZ when the DOT waiver window opens.

  • avatar

    I bond with my STi when I have the winter tires on in an upopulated parking lot when the temperature is around 0 & the ground is covered with ice & snow.

  • avatar


    Ahhh, I haven’t given my cars a hand job since the wife bought me a pressure washer a few years ago.

    Maybe that will bring the passion back. I bet she won’t like that!

  • avatar

    Apparently I’m bonding with my new vehicle by scratching the hell out of the passenger side rocker panels.

    The early estimates say $500-$600 to fix.


  • avatar

    You have to hand wash the car shortly after you get it, and check the oil and the tire pressures. This is really sort of foreplay for ‘the drive’ where take your new date to a nice twisty road out in the countryside. There you start slowly pushing the boundaries farther and farther (just as you do with any new lover) until you find what makes her scream, and exactly where her limits are. Then you know each other.

    In my driving days, I’ve done a cluster of Alfa Spiders, followed by a grouping of Integras, and, most recently, a series of 3 Series. I’ve loved them all.

    I rarely name my cars although I generally have one that I refer to as my ‘road warrior’ and a second that I refer to that ‘the cruiser’. The road warrior will be a hard-edged daily driver, and the cruiser something softer and plusher for the wife.

    The only car that I’ve failed to bond with that way was my 97 and last Integra. All the things that I’d loved about my previous 3 Integras were missing in that cars. The dohc wouldn’t scream to the red line, and the handling was indifferent. Of course, the fact that it was an ugly frog didn’t help either… That was the first generation designed after Soichiro Honda passed away, and my last Honda. Maybe the feel has returned in the recent models. I hope so.

    Anyhow, I dumped that car after less than 12 months, and went German. I miss the quirkyness of the Italians who would do anything you desired of them until they suddenly and surprisingly failed you for no apparent reason , and the ‘beat me harder daddy’ willingness to rev of the Integras… but I do like the ‘yes master: Immediately!’ attitude of the BMW’s.

  • avatar

    Three years ago, I was trying to buy a new Civic Si. This was right after they’d come out, and they were red hot. Plenty of dealers were putting thousands of dollars of markups on the cars, and the ones that would sell for sticker couldn’t keep inventory in. I’d had an order in wiith a Virginia dealer for a blue Si coupe, but I kept getting the runaround on when it would come in. The car was perpetually three months out. I’d had about enough of the waiting game when a poster over at Temple of VTEC mentioned that his dealer up in Michigan had two blue Si coupes with navigation just sitting on the lot for sticker. I’m on the phone that day, and on a plane at the end of the week.

    I flew up to Michigan with a change of clothes and my checkbook. No map. All the paperwork was filled out, and I was on my way less than two hours later. I just plugged in my home address and let the car take me on the 750 mile trip back home. Most of the trip was on the interstates and parallel highways, varying speed for break-in. The 600 mile break-in finished up right when I got to West Virginia, so I headed off the interstates to drive some back roads on my way back home. After scaring the shit out of myself a few times with a much larger performance envelope than I’m used to, I arrived back home in one piece.

    That was a fantastic bonding trip. 750 miles over two medium length days, driving through some beautiful countryside, feeling the joy of being able to take an onramp at twice the posted speed with no drama at all… beautiful.

  • avatar

    Just two weeks after buying my new-to-me 911, I was at the track doing my first DE. That was great bonding. Driving a 911 is like bizarro world when you aren’t used to it. Everything is backwards – rear weight bias, floor mounted pedals, all the noise coming from the rear, etc. I learned more about driving that car in two days than I could of in a whole year of street driving.

  • avatar

    Purchased a very low mileage Porsche Cayman S in South Carolina (Hilton Head) a few years back. Wife and I flew one way, were picked up at the airport by the dealership, and spent 4 hours in the dealership signing paperwork and getting the “orientation” speech… Went to Charleston, SC for our first 2 nights, then headed over to Asheville, NC for our next few nights. About 90 minutes from Asheville is the Dragon, a wonderfully twisty road in the mountains between TN and NC. Break-in be damned, but I really had fun getting to know the limits of the car in those first few days.

    For anyone who is interested, my wife’s vomit cleaned up nicely from the two-toned leather…

  • avatar

    This is an easy one. I go through cars like I change my underwear (at least once a week). But without question, the car I bonded with the most oddly enough wasn’t a car. My ’02 Land Rover Disco II was a gas-slurping beast, robust and dependable as the sunrise and fun to drive in its own weird way. It felt indestructable.

    Our “moment” was the 2003 annual fishing derby on Martha’s Vineyard. Me and three of my buddies packed the Disco with lots of gear and plenty of beer, loaded her onto the ferry and spent an entire day – from just about dawn to dusk – driving around Chappy, surfcasting and plucking stripers out of the sea. The Disco’s tires never touched pavement the entire glorious day, and transported us flawlessly, regally, all over the island. Deep, soft, wet sand? No problem. Water crossings up to 30″ deep? No worries. It was, in all respects, an incredible day. Towards the end, as we packed up to head out to The News for a burger, the Rover looked perfect…in its element…wet and dirty. I have owned Porsches, BMWs, Saabs and all sorts of fun cars but I don’t think I ever bonded with a car like I did with the Rover.

  • avatar

    I totally understand. About 4 years ago and after a deployment to Afghanistan, I decided I needed a second car…a fun car. Two weeks later, I purchased an Estoril Blue 2000 BMW M Roadster. The very first day, I just couldn’t bring myself to take it home. I drove for hours. It was a 2900 pound sub-5.5 second car with a soft top, a wonderful gearbox, leather sport seats that surounded me and I tried to throw it at every corner I could find. Until that point I had never owned a car that I craved to drive.

    I regretted selling that car and think about it to this day. Every once and awhile I think about a newer M roadster. So…any offers yet?

  • avatar

    In April of 2008 I bought a new Honda Ridgeline (yes I can feel your disappointment). Never had a vehicle with traction and stability control before with a decent awd system as well. On December 27th I drove straight through from Edmonton Alberta to Yuma Arizona in approx 30 hrs.Suffered through wicked winter night-time storms in Idaho,Icy mountain passes, Vegas traffic/construction and a sore rear end. But driving out of a temp of -30C/-22F to 25C/77F and having the Ridgeline perform flawlessly, there and back, I,ve bonded with the thing and the buyers remorse is long gone.I even find myself taking more care when washing/maintaining the truck than I did before (weird I know).

  • avatar

    When possible I try to take somethign apart. For example, I’m waiting on the transfer by CarMax of an ’06 Dakota Quad Cab (thank you depreciation) from Knoxville to my local dealer here in Connecticut. The first thing I’m going to do when I get it is tear apart the interior and install the satellite radio kit. Others are tempting me with exhaust systems and whatnot, but I think I’m going to keep things pretty stock for the forseeable future…

  • avatar

    In early June of 2006, I purchased a 1994 Miata R package w/ 35,000 miles on ebay. The Laguna Blue roadster was in San Jose. I flew from OC to Oakland and had my brother who lives in Santa Rosa give me a lift from the airport the auction house to get the car. Our bond built over the next day during a gloriously sunny summer top-down drive all the way back to SoCal along PCH. Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara–I’d taken this route before but never like this (several other Miata drivers winking their pop-up lights or offering a nod or an understated wave as motorcycle riders do in customary greeting as they pass).
    Best drive ever. Little car. Big fun.

  • avatar

    Back in 1985 I bought one of the very first Fieros with a V6 engine in it. Shortly after picking up the car, I set out east on a drive from Vancouver BC through the Cascade and Rocky Mountains. By the time I decided it was time to find a hotel to sleep, I was in Idaho. It turned out to be a week long drive.

    In 2005, I bought a brand new MINI Cooper S. Drove south and attended A MINI Vacation in Vegas (AMVIV) with 300 other MINI drivers. We drove along route 66, and crossed into Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho. Great fun.

  • avatar

    I made the mistake of introducing my 3-day-[used] Outback to my ham-footed friend prematurely. He proceeded to detonate the clutch.

    Needless to say, “Obie” and I bonded over a $1800 repair bill, a tow truck ride, and quibbled about a mistress loaner car during our Virginia-Minnesota return trip.

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