Over the last few years, as my beloved Audi A8 has had her fits and starts (stops?) and required more attention, I've taken to window-shopping for her eventual replacement, with many a vehicle passing through my curious inclination as the "Car of the Week."
Oh, I've ranged near and far, considering everything from a newer A8 to a Cadillac CTS Wagon, from an older TT Convertible (just for the sheer impractical fun of it) to a Mercedes R-wagon, from an A5 to a Toyota Venza.
You get the picture. Weird and wonderful, that's what I like.
A recent business trip had me returning late of a rainy evening on my commute from Boston Logan International Airport, swimming north through the moat of New Hampshire which borders and protects these wooded lands of Maine, when what to my wandering eyes should appear but a new light flickering on my Christmas tree of a dashboard.
Oh, Saint Nicholas, it's the battery!
Not good. I've been through this before, when I ended up stranded six miles from home. At that time, a tow to a local shop and a morning visit showed the car simply to have desired the night off, as she fired right up. I drove her home and went on with life. It was as if the previous night's little tiff had never happened. We both agreed to bury the past and not bring it up again.
Until last week.
Different conditions, same result. Despite my shutting down all unnecessary systems like the radio, the heater, the fog lights, etc., she decided to give up half a mile from the exit I'd targeted for its convenient Marriott Residence Inn and a place to spend the night. Two and a half hours later, I'd been towed that final mile and crawled into bed. While waiting for the tow operator to get me, I had time and phone battery enough to go car shopping through the south Portland dealerships' respective web-sites.
Years of Car of the Week dreaming (and a fair amount of saving) translated into decisive action as I phoned up one dealer who happened to have the most recent contenders in stock and at a reasonable price. I asked if he could bring it on by my temporary abode for a test drive. Three hours and a bit of negotiation later, I'd checked out of the hotel, had the A8 on yet another flatbed, and pointed the long nose of my new Car of the Decade toward home.
Here she is, a 2011 Mercedes E350 4matic "Sport." Palladium Silver with black leather, as a German car should be.
I call her the Car of the Decade because, given my history with the A8, a decade is a reasonable assumption of ownership for me. But who knows? I had the A8's predecessors for about 2 years each. One relationship ended due to mistrust; the other due to miscommunication in an intersection.
The A8? She's in the driveway with a fresh battery in her, though in need of attention to either the battery cables or, more likely, the alternator. The battery was officially dead-dead, but replaced by Autozone under warranty. That hasn't solved all problems, giving me more projects to tackle once my back permits me to do some labor. The Quintissential Quattro Thousand Dollar Car (QQ-TDC for short) will live to drive another day, and will likely continue to be my airport car most of the time, keeping the miles on the 'Merc reasonably low. That and the eldest Toadrollerette has her driving permit. What safer car than an over-engineered and entirely depreciated Audi for her to hone her driving skills in?