For Marco Mantenuto, cars are both an interest and passion. The Stouffville resident has been working in automotive sales and management the past 14 years, spending a significant amount of time commuting to Toronto for work or his car club, RClub.
Picking up a 2008 BMW Z4 last spring, the car enthusiast has equipped the vehicle with winter tires and is known to drive it around the city more often than his other rides; a Ford Bronco and a 2001 Honda S2000. Riding against the stereotype that convertibles are only summer cars, Mantenuto has equipped his Z4 with winter tires. He tells us what he loves best about his daily driver.
“Because I grew up in Europe, convertibles were very seldom to come by,” said Mantenuto. “So, I’ve always wanted to own one.
“I used to play ‘GoldenEye 007’ on my Nintendo 64. At the time the Z3 was the official car for James Bond, and that kind of stuck with me as a kid. I knew I wasn’t going to be a secret agent – I gave up that dream a long time ago (Laughs) – but I wanted a Z3.
“I was actually in the market for a Z3, and I was disappointed by the state of the cars (I found). When you’re buying a pre-owned vehicle, you’re dependent on how the previous owner kept the vehicle, how well it was maintained, and everything else. As much as I wanted to relive my dream, I would have potentially regretted making a decision based on my emotions because the car would have cost me a lot more to maintain. I didn’t want the car to be in the service department five days out of seven.
“A friend pointed me toward the direction of this Z4 (a newer model that replaced the Z3). Everything made sense in terms of reliability, the way the car was maintained, and the technology found in the Z4 that included some pretty significant advancements. I fell in love with it right away and bought it.”
Being a used car, Mantenuto was happy to note the manual transmission Z4 he acquired included several unexpected findings.
“The previous owner took really excellent care of the vehicle; the only thing I had to do was to install a brand-new set of Michelin Sports [tires] on it. When you’re buying a used car, compromising is par for the course, so I was lucky that I didn’t have to compromise on pretty much anything because my expectations were very open. I wasn’t even looking for a Z4! Colour, to me, is not important, but even if it was white – my least favourite colour on a car, I would have been OK with that. Then I found out that the car was black, and it made me even happier.
“I’m also six-foot-one and I fit a lot better in a Z4 than I do in a Z3. I’m not sure how tall Pierce Brosnan is, but when I test drove a couple Z3s, it was really tight. Whereas the Z4 felt like I was wearing a shoe of the right size.”
“The way I look at it is it’s smiles for miles,” said Mantenuto of his everyday driver. In no way conservative with the miles he’s put on the Z4, he shares insights about its all-seasons use.
“Any car that’s properly equipped can be a winter car, and it obviously helps that I have something a little bit higher off the ground on the days we get 48 centimeters of snow,” said Matenuto of his Bronco. “But if I’m emotionally attached to a car, then I’ll figure out ways to make it work. Even if I didn’t have the SUV, I would still figure out ways to make it work just by being smart about the way I drove the car.
“So, if there’s ice or 40 centimetres of snow on the road and your car can’t handle it – whether you have winter tires or not, don’t go out. Whatever it is that you have to do that day cannot be more important than your own safety and the safety of others. So just stay home. Don’t go into the office, cancel your appointments, or whatever the case might be.”
“If you take care of your car, then the car is going to take care of you,” said Mantenuto. “I’m lucky enough to be able to upkeep the mechanical aspects my vehicle through RClub. Here, we’ve got hoists and mechanics who are a part of the club, including a big BMW mechanic. But it also applies to the cosmetic aspects as well, and I plan on giving the car a little bit more love: It needs to be polished and buffed. I’ll be doing some paint correction and might even ceramic coat it.
“To me a vehicle tells a lot about a person. Since I was a kid, my dad taught that ‘if you want to see if somebody really takes care of their car or is on top of its maintenance, you should look at their tires.’ Tires are the only thing that attaches this 3000-pound machine to the road and if the tires are bald (stripped like they’re worn out), it means that they’re probably not really taking good care of the car. A lot of people don’t think to replace the tires because they don’t see the value in it. To me it’s more of a safety thing.”
“It’s probably worth mentioning that I never thought of myself as someone who would enjoy driving a BMW as much as I do. I never looked for a BMW prior to this one – the Z3 was going to be my first soiree into the BMW world. And I fell in love with the car much harder than I expected.”
This article was edited for space and clarity. Want to be featured in Why I Love My Vehicle? email us at email@example.com.
Renée S. Suen is a Toronto-based lifestyle writer/photographer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rssuen
A CLOSER LOOK: 2008 BMW Z4 (manual)
“Being a German car, the handling is fantastic. Phenomenal,” said Mantenuto. “The way it hugs the road in turns really feels like it’s very well planted. There’s not another word. The car communicates well with the driver and gives you a lot of feedback. (For example,) I have a very snowy driveway and there was a little bit of ice on it. The car, in a way, told me it was going to be a little bit slippery. Because it’s a rear-wheel drive, the back wheels stuck out a bit as I was exiting my driveway, but I was able to let go the gas and the car corrected itself in a way, so it handled it really well.”
A “SLOW” FAST CAR
“Essentially the Z4 is a slow car that feels fast,” said Mantenuto. “It’s much more fun to have a slow car that feels fast because you don’t get in trouble the way you do when you have a fast car that doesn’t feel fast (which you can get carried away with in something like an exotic car and lose track of how fast you’re going on the road). With this car, you can push it if you want to and not endanger anybody and at the same time also not break any laws, because it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a fast, fast car.
“I differentiate a car that you can take to the track with a car you use daily: Just because is built to handle 250 km/h doesn’t mean that you should push it that way. If I go to the track, or if I want to go fast, then I will have a purpose-built car to do that. Essentially, a race car does not make a great daily driver and a daily driver does not make a great race car because they’re built for very different things.”
“You know, people always think that driving a convertible on a sunny day is a fun thing to do, but it’s actually the opposite,” said Mantenuto. “You don’t really want to drive a convertible on a sunny day because it gets really hot, really fast. The best time to drive the car is during summer evenings when the temperature is 25 degrees with the top down and a breeze. I thoroughly enjoy it.”