Julie’s gadget diary – check out my new gadget transport system

How’s this for the ultimate “gear bag”? After years upon years of wanting one, I finally decided to just go for it and bought a 2013 MINI Cooper S Hardtop. I’ve been driving it for a little over a week now and I absolutely love it. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed driving a car as much as I’m enjoy this one. At the mature age of 49, this is only my 3rd brand new car. It will probably be my last one too because I think I’m going to be driving this little guy for many many years to come.

I remember drooling over MINI Coopers back in 2004 when Judie Lipsett (Gear Diary) was still writing for The Gadgeteer. Judie ended up buying a MINI for herself, which really annoyed me (sorry Judie) because I could not afford or justify trading cars at the time. Time flies, years pass, things change, but I continued to want one. This past June while Jeanne and I were spending a few days in Indianapolis, I had the opportunity to test drive a couple MINI Coopers and Countrymans. I went home and ended up calling the dealership the next day to set up an appointment to test drive a few more and then I later placed an order.


I definitely didn’t want one with a sunroof, so I built one using the online configurator so I could get everything I wanted. I’d never done that before and went a little crazy – although I could have added a lot more options because they have too many things to choose from. I’ve always had an issue with making up my mind when there are too many choices. I decided on Kite Blue with a white top and white stripes. I had originally wanted the US flag on the hood but changed my mind.

Once I placed the order I had to wait for it to be built in Oxford, England, shipped on a boat to the US and then transported to the Dreyer & Reinbold MINI dealership in Indianapolis. The whole process took about 6 weeks and was mostly painless.

Read this:  24 Hours with Bixby

I thought my Mazda 3 was fast, but this car, which Larry has dubbed the Blue Streak, is much zippier. Hopefully I won’t get any speeding tickets 😉

One funny thing I learned about MINI drivers is that they wave at other MINI drivers – kind of like motorcycle riders. I didn’t know this and kept wondering why people were waving at me. So I googled it…

Anyway, I just had to share my biggest gadget purchase EVER with all of you. 🙂

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29 comments… add one
  • Tom Clawges August 9, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Congrats Julie!

    I still love my 2008, been driving it hard and still having fun.

  • Judie Lipsett Stanford August 9, 2013, 6:20 pm

    Julie, I love your new car, and I hope that you enjoy it for many, many years! Congrats! =D

  • HungAD August 9, 2013, 6:48 pm

    From what I understand August 30 is the last day to order a custom current gen Mini. I’m not a fan of the upcoming model. Nice choice Julie!

  • walk August 9, 2013, 7:11 pm

    Congrats and great choice! I am loving my 2012 MINI JCW hatch (R56… Eclipse Grey with Chili red roof and interior) as well. 6 weeks for a custom order was awfully quick – similar to mine.

    @HungAD: I’m on the fence about the 2014 model… too early to tell since we only have access to spy photos… not that I am shopping 😉

  • Phil Clark August 9, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Very happy for you. The best part is you don’t have
    to give it back after the review. Maybe Judie is a little
    annoyed now.

  • drew baker August 9, 2013, 7:37 pm

    I had a 2006 Mazda 3, I did love driving it. But I soo wanted my truck back. I got the Mazda 3 to help with fuel costs, traded in my 1994 Chevy 1500. Just couldn’t live without truck, got a 2011 1500 Chevy. Would love something like this as a backup, or second car when I don’t need the truck.

  • Chris August 9, 2013, 8:16 pm

    Good choice, I had a 2004 MCS with the John Cooper Works kit. It was a blast, like a “street legal go-kart”.

    If you haven’t seen them, some great online resources: http://www.gbmini.net/wp/ , http://www.mini2.com , http://www.northamericanmotoring.com

  • Michelle August 9, 2013, 8:56 pm

    Congratulations on your new mini — I love my 2008 Clubman. Added a custom bike rack on the back and kayak racks on top, so it’s also great for hauling around your recreational equipment. Also bought the Mini folding bike — there’s another super gadget for you that will fit in the car!

  • Mark Rosengarten August 9, 2013, 8:56 pm

    Fantastic, Julie!!!! Enjoy your new toy…may it transport you not only from place to place but to absolute joy as you drive it.

  • Jake August 9, 2013, 11:29 pm

    I was waiting for this post. I’m loving the colour, so bad! Oxford!? Only a short drive from me and I’ve seen the factory plenty of times on the train. 🙂 Love the fog lights! So, now I have to ask. Manual or automatic? Also what gadgets did you go for on the car? Hopefully plenty since this is the gadgeteer!

    • Julie Strietelmeier August 10, 2013, 8:12 am

      @Jake I knew someone would ask that and would be disappointed when I told them I went with automatic. Manual never crossed my mind as I never learned to drive that way and have only tried it a couple of times in all my years of driving. I didn’t feel like learning now 🙂

      @Andy That is a most excellent idea to do a “what’s my ride” set of posts! If we’re going to do that, I’ll save my list of what options I opted for (see what I did there?) for that post.

  • Andy Chen August 9, 2013, 11:56 pm

    I love your new ride!

  • Andy Chen August 10, 2013, 12:30 am

    Maybe we need a Gadgeteer “what’s my ride?” series? I vote Julie first.

  • Louis M August 10, 2013, 12:51 am

    I’m so happy for you! I got one the same way last year. It’s fun every time you drive it. I bought a 2003 in ’07 and then my new one. The only cars I’ve never gotten tired of. You will learn something new about it every once in awhile that will delight you.

    Make sure you check out http://www.northamericanmotoring,com for a great community of Mini owners.

  • Louis M August 10, 2013, 2:04 am

    Whoops! Someone already shared that website! Oh we’ll, consider it a second endorsement.

  • Bill Henderson August 10, 2013, 8:28 am

    Julie, I drive a 2001 minivan with 170K miles that my wife “gave” me after we bought a classic Lexus sports car. So, am I jealous? Oh, yeah.
    Congrats! It looks like fun!

  • Julio August 10, 2013, 11:41 am

    SUPER Excellent choice!!!!!! One of your BEST GADGET!!!!!!

  • Cazi August 10, 2013, 12:34 pm

    Huge Congrats, you cant beat these adorable cars. It was my first car and I still miss her…sigh!
    Hope you have many years of fun driving and yep I would love to see a series of gadgeteer rides!

  • Norm August 10, 2013, 12:38 pm

    Wecome to the Mini world. My 2009 Clubman took 8 weeks to get from the factory to Hawaii after I ordered it but it’s the best car I’ve ever owned. Driving is fun again. And my miles per gallon went up after my speeding ticket to the low 40’s!

  • Hai Vu August 10, 2013, 12:41 pm

    I noticed your shoes and jacket’s colors matches your new car! Congratulation.

  • Jake August 10, 2013, 2:33 pm

    @Julie No shame for an auto! I like both very much! I do sometimes wish my car was an auto in heavy traffic. Congrats again, now to be waiting on the what’s my ride series of posts! 🙂

  • RainyDayInterns August 10, 2013, 3:57 pm

    Now THAT is a great “project” car for all kinds of gadget add-ons!!!

  • Joe August 10, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Congrats for new ride. Now, New Julie’s diary of Mini commence! I certainly hope to see that coming as us, regular driver’s perspective. 🙂

    • Julie Strietelmeier August 10, 2013, 4:13 pm

      My first “road trip” was today. Drove from Columbus to Bloomington via St Rd 46. Lots of curves, hills, twists and turns. Fun drive.

  • Andy Chen August 10, 2013, 11:30 pm

    @Julie: I’ll write up my “ride” if you do it first! 🙂

    • Julie Strietelmeier August 11, 2013, 9:17 am

      @Andy Ok, challenge taken! I have to go give the MINI a bath before I can take more pix. Living on a gravel road will cause me to wash it frequently if I want it to stay looking shiny and new.

  • Jaamgans August 11, 2013, 11:49 am

    My first and only mini was from 79, the speedo only worked occasionally and boy could it fly. No auto, just a long skinny gear shaft, and the feeling that you were driving a go kart.

  • Ronald August 11, 2013, 5:59 pm

    I had a Mini Clubman Estate in the 80th.
    Tiny car! Lots of rust. Lots of breaking down. The days of DIY!

    Ah, but what a ride! What a fun!

    A Mini is a car that puts a smile in your face … what more could one ask for ?

    Have many smiling and save miles in your Mini. Enjoy!

  • thsu August 12, 2013, 7:40 pm

    My wife has an automatic Mini, and I must say, when you put it into sports mode, the car is surprisingly responsive.

    Yeah, it eats more gas in sports mode, but the responsiveness is pretty close to manual driving responsiveness – easily the most responsive automatic that I’ve ever driven.

    And personally, I love the sunroof.

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