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And a Rear View of Another…

Note the earth-tone color – similar to Mini’s palette of the early ’70s. Let’s call this color “baby-diaper yellow” – pretty much the same color Mini offered around that same period…
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Anything Familiar About This One?

We recently ran across this just-a-teeny-bit-more-blatant Mini wannabe N600, with the familiar white roof and twin white bonnet stripes and driving lights. Look closely and you might spot the (slapped-on) “MINI” emblem too!

Gotta love the license plate, which reads: “MINI 007”




And the Backside…

Sat., April 7, 2007 – And here’s the buns-end view…
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And the Cover Showdown Begins…

Fri., April 6, 2007 – Not to be outdone – once Christian S, the former owner, saw Jimmy’s cover (above) – he fired back with his version – dubbed “California Mini”…

I guess it just goes to show that Mini folk have a great sense of humor and/or are talented and/or are competitive….

Should you have a need for a talented photographer and/or graphic artist, give us a ring and we’ll hook you up….
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MiniGuy Mini Makes Cover of (a) Mini Magazine!

Fri., April 6 – Got sent this mockup of a magazine cover featuring the Mini that Jimmy L. (of Los Angeles) recently adopted after finding it on our “Consignment – For Sale by Owner” pages.

Mini Magazine and Mini World, look out – there just might be a new kid on the block: “Hot Cali Mini”…

Just kiddin’…
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Yet Another Big ‘n Little Shot…

Thurs., April 5, 2007 – Here’s another is our continuing series of “big and little” shots; this one sent in by Jimmy L. of Los Angeles. Pictured here is his “new” Mini, or at least new to him. Jimmy comes from a long background of building/driving “rice racers” (my words, not his!), but says this Mini – for a fraction of what he’s spent modifying his other cars – gets much more attention!

Jimmy’s an editor and feature photographer for “the number-one import-car customizing magazine in the U.S.,” but we can’t tell you the name. You know, job security and all that!
<< grin >>

Y’all keep them pics coming, okay?

Not a Mini, But We Like It Just the Same

Thurs., April 5, 2007 – This one’s not a Mini, but just wait, I’ll mention Minis later on.

This “T-Rex” appears to be a trike, and it’s one cool ride. And, it’s the same bright canary yellow that I painted my ’64 El Camino in the mid-70’s, a car that I’ve owned for 33 years now.

I’m really tweaked about the T-Rex.

I need to find the guy who ripped off my designs from long ago, when I doodled futuristic vehicles while attending Van Nuys High School.

When I wasn’t drawing other cool cars, I drew – and dreamed about – classic Minis, and Mini Coopers. In our school library, a very thick reference book catalogued every car made in the world at that time, if I recall correctly. Of course, the Mini was in it, along with photographs and descriptions. The reference book couldn’t be checked out, so I’d just stand and re-read the details, and look longingly at the Minis.

See, a Mini reference after all…

Happy Birthday to Your Mini, Happy Birthday to…

April 3, 2007 – Before you think this is just another mention of the 50-year anniversary (in 2009) of the 1959 launch of the Mini – relax, it’s not.

What’s cool about adopting your own Mini is that you can get – in effect – a copy of its “Birth Certificate.” The certified documents are produced from researching various records, including the build ledgers for Minis built at the Morris plant in Cowley, England, or the Austin plant in Longbridge. (However, some Morrises were built at Longbridge, and vice-versa).

For the Mini, most records are available for cars built between 1959 and 1969.

The records maintained by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust may now be ordered through the organization’s website: ( http://www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk/archive/ ). For a nominal fee (about 33GBP), the archive department will provide the owner of a Mini – as well as many other classic British cars – the document suitable for framing. The information listed is what was entered against the specific chassis number as entered in the authentic factory ledgers. Depending on the availability of specific records, information typically includes the all-important build date, dates when the vehicle was shipped, as well as the original chassis numbers (what we call the VIN), the engine number, and sometimes the body and “FE” numbers. Also typically listed are the original color schemes (ie: a Cooper or Cooper S would typically have a white or a black roof), and, where available, the factory-fitted options for that specific car, and sometimes the dealer it was being sent to.

IIn this area (Southern California), I’ve seen a number certificates showing deliveries to a dealer in Compton. Sometimes, if you have only an engine number or a body number, the organization may be able to cross-reference it.

If you’ve got a Mini that’s between 48 and 38 years old, check it out. If yours is newer than that, the records may be incomplete. Still worth asking…

Happy Birthday to your Mini, Happy Birthday to your Mini, Happy Birth-day Dear Mee-Neee!, Hap-py Birthday to Yooooh!! And Many More…

Whose Izzit – part 1

Wed., April 3, 2007 – We’ve got a ton of pics here that we’ve taken over the years – and we’re now beginning to post them on our (new) “Not For Sale” pages. That’s where we showcase peoples’ Minis – whether pristine or project.

Unfortunately, for many of the pics, we may not have owners’ names to go with them. That’s where you can help – by letting us know who may be the owner. And, if possible, how we could make contact to find out interesting details or adventures with their Mini(s)….

Keep an eye on that page, as we’ll typically adding a bunch shortly – hopefully a few per day…

Shown here is a pic from the “East Meets West” nationwide Mini Meet in Rockford, Ilinois.

Anyone know about this particular Mini with its unique paint job? If so, drop us an email at miniguy@miniguy.com

A Desk to Die For…

April 4, 2007 – Received this pic recently from a Mini enthusiast in New Mexico. Making furniture out of interesting cars – including Minis – is nothing new, but we particularly liked this one.

Being the MiniGuy is already great gobs of fun, but my sitting at this desk would raise that up a notch or two.

Um, did I mention that my birthday is in November?

Tweaking the Beaks of the Silly Scammers…

April 4, 2007 – Putting a Mini up for sale on the Internet these days will – pretty much always – result in an inquiry from someone pretending to be interested in your car, but someone who’s actually a scammer.

If you haven’t been hibernating since the Internet launched, you already know how it goes. I can’t imagine anyone falling for the ruse, but it must be bearing fruit or the scammers would do something else.

Anyway, once I’ve determined that a particular email is not from a legitimate buyer, I just send a reply something along the following. For some reason, they never email me back….
<< grin >>

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Dear __xxxxxxxx___
Hello again and thanks for the prompt reply.

re: $X,XXX for the _(fill in the car being offered)____
I’m sorry, we will only sell it to someone who comes in person and assures us that it will go to a good home. In fact, you must drive your own car over here to see it. We believe that if you can’t take care of your own car, then we are not interested in having you adopt our sweet little Mini. Also, you must allow our dog to sniff you, since that is how he – and all the other members of the dog kingdom – get acquainted. If he doesn’t like you, we can’t help you. I think you understand our concerns that our entire family approve of you. Frankly, we don’t need the money, so we’re willing to wait until the right person comes along. Oh yeah, our cat will also be sniffing you to see if there’s anything fishy about you. I’m sure you understand our concerns that our little Mini will be well-treated, well-fed and loved. Can’t come right away? No problem. We will save it for you – providing you email a photo of you, with your current car(s), and give us a 500-word essay why you deserve this car. If you pass our rigorous exams, please bring cash, preferably in small, unmarked bills.
– Michael “MiniGuy” Lewis –
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CAUTION: SHAMELESS PLUG FOLLOWS:

Such scammers, time-wasters, tire-kickers and picture-collectors all combine to make selling your own Mini on the Internet a frustrating experience. That’s where we at MiniGuy come in. If your Mini is accepted into our “Consignment – For Sale by Owner” program, it becomes our job to weed out all the flakes and bring you only the serious, qualified potential buyers. Our goal is the first person we send to you – will buy your car from you. We have an excellent record of achieving that goal, and we’ll gladly supply references. If you have a Mini for sale – or know of one that might be – we’d be glad to hear from you!

Ogle This, Ogle That…

Mon., April 2 — In one of our recent Features, we used the word “ogle” in the dictionary sense of the word, meaning to “to eye; look or stare at.”

Thinking about that, I was reminded that there is a Mini-based sports coupe with the same name. Pictured here, and below, is an “Ogle.” There weren’t many made, and only a handful in the U.S., maybe four or five if I recall?

Snapped a pic of this one at a Mini Meet in Ilinois.

I’ll add more info later. If you can fill me in on more details, please drop me an email..

And, if you have other interesting Mini-related pics – or ideas of what should be added to this page – or to our “Not For Sale” section on this website – please shoot us an email. Thanks!

UPDATE: Have more Ogle info to post, but in the meantime I tracked down the owner. He’s willing to let it go to a new home. He has $40k in receipts, in addition to the cost he paid for the car. Asking price is a lot less than that. We’ve posted it to our Consignment section. More info to appear here, and in the advertisment.

Looking to Buy Cheap Mini? We’re Slashing This One to the Bone!

Sunday, 2007 – We urgently need to clear out the rest of our shop, so we’re offering this Mini at a slashing good deal. We’ll cut the chase. Whoever emails us first will get this Mini for $1,250; we’ve probably shaved 80% off what we would normally get. No Cashier’s Checks, no I.O.U.’s, just cold, hard cash! If you are first in line, it’s yours. Somebody’s going to get a smokin’ good deal! We’ve just painted it red with a white top. The engine’s not back in yet, but I’m sure we could throw in a decent lump. In the meantime, it rolls just fine. Mini’s are great, ‘cuz they fit in narrow spaces. This one’s only 10 feet long, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting it on a trailer. Remember, the first one who emails us will cut to the head of the line….

For a couple more pics, see below…

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And the Last Pic…….

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Sunday, April 1 – HAPPY APRIL FOOL’s DAY !

p.s. If you liked this one, see April 1st, 2004 (It’s way down this page…).

World’s Costliest Classic Mini? How’s $197k Sound?

Mar. 30, 2007 – The classic Mini community collectively gasped its surprise at news that a record price – roughly $197k – had been paid for a Mini, although it’s one touted as a genuine, factory “Works” model with a history of significant rally wins.

The Mini, registration #DJB 93B, started life as a ’65 Morris “Cooper S,” (then re-badged as an Austin by the factory for export reasons), before being culled from the many Minis rolling off BMC’s assembly lines. It was then taken to the company’s special-tuning department.

While there, it was prepared to race in rallies, which it did until being retired in 1966.

After last racing in 1966, DJB 93B fell out of sight until its re-discovery in 1986. Following that, it traded hands a few times before 1996, when a full restoration began.

Critics say the car isn’t worthy to carry the DJB 93B registration, as they contend the replacement shell means it should only be considered a replica. Critics also claim that few – if any – parts from the original car remain. The restorer’s reply is that period-correct parts were sourced, and some parts such as the rollbar had to be replaced to meet current race standards.

The Mini is said to have been built from the ground up, but purists point out that the factory affixed the small, aluminum VIN plate with just two screws – and could easily be stuck on any old Mini.

$197k? Yikes, I say…

See article below for more information on DJB 93B’s history and restoration…

Auction-House Write-up on $197k Mini…

What follows is the write-up for the Mini as listed in the auction catalog for auction-house Bonhams….

Click Here for Bonhams’ auction listing, with additional photos…

DJB 93B
Sale 15338
24 Mar 2007
International Historic Motorsport Show –Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

1965 RAC Rally and 1966 Scottish winner
1964 Mini Cooper 1275S Ex-Works Rally Saloon
Registration no. DJB 93B
Chassis no. CA2S7/662044
Engine no. 9F-SA-Y/34709

Sold for 90,000GBP plus Premium and tax
Footnote:
According to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, this now Morris-badged, though originally Austin Mini Cooper 1275S, CA2S7/662044, was built at Longbridge 26 November 1964 prior to despatch to the MG Car Company at Abingdon 2 December, when, like most BMC factory competition cars it was issued with the current DJB 93B Berkshire registration. Following a subsequent, back to basics preparation by the Comps Department, initially as an Austin for export market reasons, it took part in the 1965 Swedish and Acropolis Rallies before finishing 13th in category on the Alpine and, in the legendary Rauno Aaltonen’s hands as a Morris, winning the RAC Rally of GB.

Having been driven to victory by Tony Fall on the Scottish Rally the following season however, DJB 93B rolled into retirement from Abingdon Competition Department service during the 1966 Gulf London Rally and was not re-discovered until 1986. By 1991, ownership had transferred from Clubman Jeff Wilson to Mini Machine of Darlington, from whom the project was taken on in 1996 by the vendor who has overseen a total restoration to original works-spec.

A correct and fully restored Mk1 body shell was employed, though with double-skinned exhaust tunnel, floor under driver’s feet and cross-member, strengthened bulkhead steady bar bracket, steering rack mounts and rear shocker mounts all being to Abingdon spec. Although run initially in hydrolastic form, like most works Minis of the day, the car became a dry-suspension car in period and is in this form today. Parts were sourced by marque specialist John Kelly, while Simon Wheatcroft’s workshop was responsible for the detailed build.

With 1275S thick-flange block linered and bored out +20 thou to 1293cc, Omega dished pistons, Farndon cross-drilled crank in EN40B, fully machined conrods in EN24V, Downton No 2 cam and 12G940 head fed by twin SU H4s, engine builder Bryan Slark, formerly with Downton, achieved a dyno reading of 117bhp at 7000rpm and 107lb/ft torque at 5000rpm. The transmission spec includes a 22G333 gearbox casing, straight-cut close-ratios, straight-cut drop gears, 4.3:1 final drive and Quaife Torsen-type limited slip. Following installation in the car, the rolling road showed 96bhp at 7250rpm and 81lb/ft at 4250rpm. The vendor tells us that the engine is extremely flexible from 3000rpm and will easily rev to 8000rpm at which point, he says, it sounds wonderful!

With the early BMC roll-bar with single rear stay no longer complying with FIA/MSA safety requirements, a Safety Devices bolt-in full cage with easily removable front hoop has been chosen. 1964 glass windows have been used, whilst heated screen and all trim as well as Springalex-type wheel, air horns and electric internally-mounted washers are exactly as used on the 1965 RAC, the seats being exact replicas of the originals; the driver’s bucket with tubular frame, the co-driver’s reclining. The works dash and well-equipped navigator’s department are Abingdon-correct. Current regs-compliant Willans harnesses and FIA cut-out switch are fitted.

The electrics are authentic, having been carried out by Stan Chalmers who, with John Smith of Lucas, used to wire-up all the factory cars. There are 5 extra Lucas lamps with quick-release brackets and a swivelling roof light with Aaltonen anti-glare scoop. Under-body protection is provided by a ‘Scottish’ sump guard with optional extension guard and battery skid. The wheels, six of them, are genuine magnesium Minilites shod with Yokohama A008s; five new, one used. Roof and body as well as engine and transmission paint colours are all authentic. For display, there is a December ’65 tax disc; the street legal disc current until July 2007.

A most impressive history file contains DVLC registration document acknowledging ‘historic vehicle’ status, signed and dated BMIHT Heritage Certificates pre- and post-rebuild confirming manufacturing, registration and competition history, Abingdon ‘Build Sheets’ for 1964 RAC, BMC Homologation Forms from period, FIA Historic Vehicle Identity Form, current MSA Competition Car Logbook, MOT Test Certificates 1986-July 2007 and 2 folders of original invoices. Photo albums record restoration, wiring, engine both in build and on dyno, and winning drivers Aaltonen and Fall with car at Abingdon Reunion. On the front covers of the December 1965 ‘Autosport’ and a recent ‘Mini World’, DJB 93B has also featured in several other publications, copies of which also accompany the car.

DJB 93B’s BMC factory team rally history
1965 Swedish (Rauno Aaltonen) retired, mechanical
1965 Acropolis (Timo Makinen) retired, mechanical
1965 Alpine (Pauline Mayman) 13th in category
1965 RAC (Rauno Aaltonen) 1st overall
1966 Scottish (Tony Fall) 1st overall
1966 Gulf London (Tony Fall) retired, accident

This is one of the most correctly specified and detailed ex-works Minis around. For since completion in 1998, and as confirmed by bills on file recording work carried out to engine, running gear and bodywork, the car has been maintained regardless of cost and always garaged in a heated and dehumidified motor house. Apart from regular exercise on various historic rally ‘fun runs’ as part of the Slowly Sideways Group, DJB 93B has also been successfully hill-climbed and sprinted with a win in the 2001 Midland Speed Classic Championship. When catalogued, the odometer indicated 4,825 miles, which the vendor tells us accurately charts the total distance driven during his ownership.

While other ex-works cars do come onto the open market from time to time, many of them are likely to cost very much more again to restore and then involve even further expenditure to return them to period-correct specification, few are likely to have been prepped to the standard of authenticity to be found on this car. DJB 93B has been rebuilt as far as has been practical to the original specification in which it would have been turned out for the start of the 1965 RAC Rally, which it won, making it the only Mini ever to do so.

Copyright (c) 2002-2007 Bonhams 1793 Ltd.,
/Images and Text All Rights Reserved

Pssst! Ya Wanna Trade a Frisbee for a Mini?

Mar.30, 2007 – Pictured here isn’t a space ship, but a “Pluto Platter.” But we’ll get back to that later. The first time I met Dan Mangone, he was standing in my old showroom checking out my classic Minis. He talked about them, he sat in them, test-drove a few, and more than anything, ached to adopt one of his own. The second time I met Dan Mangone, it went pretty much the same. And, the third time I met Dan Mangone, yep, more of the same.

Dan had a little problem. Actually, several problems.

The first, and most important one, was that he needed the blessing of his wife. (And we all know that when Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!) Another little problem was little stuff with his little family – little stuff like putting groceries on the table, shoes on his kids’ feet, and college funds and retirement accounts. Not that Dan’s hurting for money, as he owns a successful business, but buying a Mini was definitely not the highest priority on his wife’s list. Of course, she would listen patiently when Dan yammered on and on about his dream of owning a Mini, but that was pretty much the end of that.

Dan, ever the optimist, began to think of ways to start putting aside extra money when he could find it, like selling his old stuff on eBay. From a showcase shelf, Dan pulled out one of his prized possessions – a Frisbee. No, not just a run-of-the-mill Frisbee, but a plastic flying disc from before Wham-O ever got involved with flying discs. In his hands, Dan held his genuine, mint-condition, still-in-the-box “American Trends Pluto Platter” – just like the replica pictured here. Dan’s disc was one of 10 known ones in the flying-disc collecting world.

With trembling fingers, Dan typed in his eBay listing and let it fly, as a 10-day auction.

Then, he left on a three-day getaway with his family. Upon his return, he checked his auction and was pleasantly surprised the bidding had already hit $1,795. Then the bids pretty much petered out. Then – like an answer to a prayer – moments before the auction ended, a $5,000 bid came in, followed quickly by the winning bid of $5,101. Don, needless to say, was “absolutely floored,” he later told me.

And, not long after that, Dan – with a silly grin on his face – headed down the road in his bright red Mini, one fresh from its home in Australia.

And, yet another Mini dream is fulfilled…

Should you want to sock away a flying disc – or maybe a hundred – as part of your retirement planning, go see Dan and he’ll fix you up. His Buena Park, Calif. company, Discovering the World ( www.dtworld.com ), has 1.5 gazillion flying discs in stock, and does much of its business providing custom-imprinted flying discs of all types as promotional items and trade-show giveaways. Not only that, DTL has a huge selection of professional and recreational flying-disc products, and supplies the world’s best flying-disc players and all the way down to the family recreational player. With the new opportunities afforded by the Internet, DTL now ships to customers worldwide.

Please excuse the shameless plug, but Dan’s a good guy and we’re only too glad to help – and it’s not just because we have a diabolical plan to supply Dan’s next Mini… <>

Mini Cars & REALLY Mini Cars…

Thurs., Mar. 29, 2007 – One cool thing about being the MiniGuy is that Mini clubs often put me on their newsletter distribution lists. (Hint, hint, to those who haven’t yet). A frequent complaint about Mini club meetings is that – too often – dealing with calendar items, budgets and administrative issues ends up consuming much of the meeting time. What ends up being the best part about Mini meetings is not what’s inside – but what’s outside in the parking lot, where there’s some serious Mini-ogling, story-swapping and some outright lying. Okay, maybe not outright lies but some serious stretching of the truth. But not all Mini club meetings are like that.

One Minnesota-based Mini club does things a little different.

While those of us in the Southern States enjoy warmer weather and milder winters, members of the Mini-Sota Minis, Pizza-Eating, and Psychiatric Self-Help Association, (or “MMPEAPSHA,” as it’s more-commonly known) are settling in to wait for winter to end. MMPEAPSHA members wistfully winterize their Minis, packing them away for a protracted hibernation, where they’re safe from salty roads. With no roads to twist, and little chance of lining up with lifted bonnets, club members have come up with innovative ways to get together.

This month’s MMPEAPSHA meeting will be a showdown of member-built Pinewood Derby cars – yes, just like the ones Cub Scout fathers have built since time began, (all the while claiming their sons actually built them!) Should you care to join in, the March 31st meeting will be combined with a supper buffet at the Square Peg diner. To keep everyone honest, official Cub Scout Pinewood derby rules must be followed, and, so there’s no arguments about who really won, this derby will use an electronically controlled, four-lane track.

Here’s to fresh ideas, I say.

Incidentally, MMPEAPSHA is the co-host, along with ‘Sota-MINIs, of the 2009 “East Meets West” gathering of Minis, a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the 1959 launch of the classic Mini. The Mini’s basic design remained unchanged during its 41-year production run, during which some 5.5 million Minis hit the world’s roads.

Let’s Meet at the Mini Meet?

Mar. 28, 2007 – One of the great things about having a classic Mini is when you can get together with a few others and their owners to hang out, talk Minis or take a brisk drive together – preferably through the twisties. There’s something to be said for seeing a row of Minis in front – and a row behind you in the rear view mirror. It’s one of those times where it’s pretty hard not to have a goofy grin on your face!

What’s even more fun is to get together with a hundred or two classic Minis at one of the annual Mini Meets.

This year, the western half of the United States – including Western Canada and often Mexico too – will gather in Hood River, Oregon from Tues., July 10 through Thurs., July 12. (Hood River is an hour east of Portland, and sits along the Columbia River). Hosting MMW2007 this year is the Oregon Mini Society, a small but active group of Mini folk ( www.oregonminisociety.com ).

The group’s Mini Meet website ( www.mmw2007.com ) takes a tongue-in-cheek poke at the famous British-icon movie series, with its event’s home page.

“Welcome to Mini Meet 007,” it proclaims, followed by the official MMW2007 theme: “Live and Let Drive.”

Meanwhile, the eastern half of the country (and likewise Eastern Canada, Mexico and often visitors from the UK) will gather for Mini Meet East (MME2007) in Alcoa, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. The event runs from June 28 through July 1, 2007. (We’ll put more info in a shameless plug to follow soon).

A number of brave/crazy souls will manage to hit both the MMW and MME events, a sort of a coming-of-age thing for die-hard classic Mini enthusiasts.

And as long as you have your calendar out, you may as well open to 2009 and mark down the (every-five-years) combined “Mini Meet – East Meets West” event scheduled for June 30 – July 2, 2009, in Winona, Minnesota.

p.s. – MMW and MME organizers say their arms are open wide for “new” (BMW) MINIs, even if some die-hard classic Mini folk say: “They’re not really Minis – they are just…” (yadda, yadda, yadda…).

So, we gonna meet, or what?

Gas Mileage? Take a Hike Instead?

Tues., March 27, 2007 – My wife always accuses me of trying to talk people OUT of buying Minis. Well, here’s yet another one for her to get bent about…

When I get a call from a prospective Mini owner, if they ask about what kind of gas mileage these Minis get, warning bells go off in my head. I then tell them that a classic Mini is just not for them.

Huh?

If you ask a Mini owner, many will say they get 40-50 miles per gallon. Just like everyone lies about how much horsepower they have (in any car, not just Minis), most people will lie about their gas mileage too. Well, they don’t always “lie” – it may be that they just haven’t taken the time and effort to really measure it accurately. Also, most Mini owners typically drive “with their foot in it,” meaning it’s often pedal-to-the-metal. These cars are all about zipping around, preferably on twisty mountain roads. Nobody I know who drives a classic Mini nurses it along in a way that maximizes fuel efficiency. Get real!

Also, when someone tells me they want a “daily driver” Mini, I tell them there’s no reason to click off that many miles in a 40-50 year-old car, no matter what kind of car it is. Save the Mini miles for driving on nice days, when you can really enjoy it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t drive it to work, you just might not want to do it every day. Unless of course, you carry tools in the trunk, a repair manual, some spare parts, something to lay on and maybe some overalls or crummy clothes to change into. And, perhaps most important of all, a cell phone and – just in case – a AAA card. (Um, for those of you from maybe out of this country, it’s a service that comes out and changes flat tires, brings fuel if you run out, unlocks your door if/when you lock your keys inside, and, when needed, tow you in for repairs).

If you don’t carry your own tools, keep your Mini mechanic on standby. Even better, on retainer. Not really, but you may want to put his number in your cell phone. I’m kidding of course, but be realistic in your expectations.

Better I say to buy an older Honda (they’ll typically top 200,000 miles if you treat them right), and use that car to just rack up your commuting miles. Boring yes, but it will almost always get you where you need to go. And you can hear the radio while you’re underway.

That said, most classic Mini owners are more than willing to put up with the quirks and maintenance, because few cars will put a smile on your face when you drive them like a Mini will.

Um, let’s make that cool cars that one can afford. I’d say a Ford GT40 would put a grin on my face too, but I don’t have enough in what my wife calls the “toy car” budget to even afford the sales tax! Sigh…

Back to the topic. I call classic Minis “cars that make people happy,” because of all the smiles, waves and thumbs-ups that you get while driving.

And hey, what’s wrong with bringing a little happiness into this world?

If We’re Little…Who Really Needs Big?

Sun., Mar. 25, 2007 – Before MiniGuy, as most of you probably know by now, I made my living as an automotive journalist. While I’ve taken a bit of a detour (for now) with the classic Minis, I still get emails and press releases related to vehicles and transportation technology.

In that vein, I got the urgent message that follows below.

As an admitted fanatic about classic Minis with their massive (not!) .85- to 1.3-liter powerplants, as well other tiny or unusual cars, I had to think for a moment if the following was such a bad thing…

With all the attention now being paid to “GLOBAL WARMING” (sorry for shouting, it’s just that there seems to be so much of it going on about the topic), it was just a matter of time before a politician proposed the following….and the opposition troops mobilized to do battle against the proposal…

Read it for yourself, then decide…. As for me, I’m going to jump in my tiny, fuel-efficient car and go for a drive, to meditate on the message, and ponder the problem…

URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT

California Considers Taxing “Gas Guzzlers”

In a misguided attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, legislation (A.B. 493) has been introduced in the California Assembly by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin ( Assemblymember.Ruskin – at – assembly.ca.gov ) to establish a progressive purchase surcharge for some new motor vehicles based on state calculations of carbon emissions. Depending on the vehicle purchased, this surcharge could require owners to pay up to $2,500 more for the vehicle. Funds collected under the program would be used in part to fund discounts for hybrids and electric cars.

If this effort is successful, the effects on your ability to purchase the vehicle of your choice, not to mention vehicle safety, will be dramatic.

We Urge You to Contact the Assembly Transportation Committee Members (List Below) Immediately To Request Their Opposition to A.B. 493

H.B 493 will limit consumer choice in purchasing vehicles by making popular performance and luxury cars, as well as SUVs, light trucks and minivans, substantially more expensive to own.

H.B. 493 will potentially lead to more deaths on California’s highways as higher taxes on larger, safer vehicles forces consumers into smaller cars with higher accident fatality rates.

H.B. 493 will not conserve energy. Greenhouse gas emissions depends on a host of other factors such as total miles traveled.

H.B. 493 will do little to improve air quality. Air quality has more to do with overall basic vehicle maintenance than it does with owning and operating any particular class of vehicle.

DON’T DELAY! Please contact members of the California Assembly Transportation Committee immediately by phone or e-mail to request their opposition to this bill.

Will You Show Me Yours, If I Show You Mine?

Mon., Mar. 26, 2007 – We’ve launched some new sections on our MiniGuy site, sections we hope will encourage you to visit the site every day!

One of our new sections is our “Not for Sale” page, where we’re looking for pics of your Mini – no matter if it’s pristine or a project – that we could post there. Or, if you know of a Mini that should be shown on the “Not For Sale” section, please let us know.

Now, what about me showing you mine?

No problem. Just take a look at our two “Consignment – For Sale by Owner” pages. Ideally, we’ll try to get a new car up there every day. (select “B” tab on home page or on menu bars at top).

The Mini pictured here is one built by Jason N., of Florida. He calls it “Shortie” and it graced the cover of one of the world’s two major Mini magazines. Jason will be sending more pics soon, as well as more info.

If you’d like your car listed in either section, please let us know!

Um, what are you waiting for?

www.miniguy.com/Consign1

www.miniguy.com/NotForSale

New MINI vs. Classic Cooper S – British Motoring Magazine

Mar. 23, 2007 – Some time back, I mentioned how we at MiniGuy got a call from British Motoring Magazine looking to do a head-to-head comparison of a classic Mini Cooper S vs. BMW’s new MINI. At the last minute, it looked like we wouldn’t be able to make it, so we called on one of our local customers to take our place for the showdown. Pictured here is the Australian Cooper S that carried the flag for classic Minis the world over, and the new kid on the block.

What follows is the article that later appeared.

Headline: New Mini vs. Classic Cooper S

Has BMW bred the Britishness out of the new cutemobile?

By Robert Goldman
Photos By Bill Delaney

While the recently deceased “classic” Beetle may forever hold the position of subcompact sales champion, one could argue that the classic Mini was a car of greater historical importance. Don’t believe me? Go out and purchase a new rear-engine, rear-drive, two-door/four-seat car. Not many choices, are there? Even the new Beetle has a transverse front-drive layout, a concept pioneered in the Mini.

Every small two-door, wheels-on-the-corners, two-box economy car on the planet today owes something to Alec Isigonis’ inspired design. When BMW took over creation of the new Mini, there was no need to change paradigms. What worked in 1959 still works today.

The remarkable aspect of the Mini concept is how an intentionally utilitarian design has become synonymous with sportscar performance. Today’s Mini, a very practical and efficient machine, is marketed in sporty and sportier forms. The Cooper S, in today’s supercharged format, is squarely targeted at enthusiasts. While there may not be another Coupe des Alpes in its future, the new S is a highly competent backroads performer.

We must have become a lot larger in the last 40 years. The new Mini looks quite small. In fact, it’s one of the smallest cars you can buy, but it looks downright big next to an original Mini. In either case, the rear seat is best suited to slim teenagers. Talk to any British adult today, and they’ll likely have stories of teenage adventures involving four or more kids and a Mini. This points to one of the fundamental differences between the old and new iterations.

The original Mini was first and foremost an economy car, intended to carry the greatest possible load in the least space, and do so without consuming much in the way of natural resources. As originally conceived, the Mini was a pretty uninspired machine. It took the vision of hardcore performance-seekers like John Cooper to identify the mighty mouse in the mundane Mini. The feature set-and consequent price tag on a new Mini-are targeted at, shall we say, a more gainfully employed clientele. Whomever the target customer, the question remains: Is the new Mini a faithful rendering in updated form or merely a new car borrowing an old name?

Styling

When parked side by side, the new car dwarfs the old. Yes, Minis really were that small. The new car may be reminiscent of the old, but in this author’s opinion, it’s a bit of a stretch to say they look much alike. Certainly, the new car’s grille is an update of the old, and it does have fender flares. Beyond that, there are fundamental differences. The original Mini had a straight-through waistline.

The new car’s rises from front to back, giving the total package a somewhat more aerodynamic look. By comparison, the old car really is just a big square box, with a small box stuck on the front.

How one can look at a box and call it cute is beyond me. It is for this reason that automotive stylists are gainfully employed. Old Mini is cute. Amazingly, the new Mini is cute in the same way-when compared with its modern contemporaries. Take the old car away and the new one looks like two boxes grafted together in the same charming fashion.

Performance Shootout

In the realm of performance, those who believe a vintage car may be fairly compared to a modern machine have not been paying attention. However, for fun we took a beautiful Australian-issue 1967 Mini Cooper S, belonging to David Rentfrow, and a new supercharged Cooper S out to Camarillo Airport for a little magazine-style testing. In fact, we snuck in a few runs in conjunction with Popular Mechanics’ 2004 fullsize pickup test. Using all the charm we could muster, we convinced them to let us record a couple numbers between runs. I never saw the truck results, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were faster in a straight line.

With enough modification, I’m sure an old Mini could be made to accelerate faster than a new Cooper S. The new Cooper is sporty, but nothing to write home about. Safety technology adds a significant weight penalty, and the blown 1.6L single-cam motor provides adequate-if not overwhelming-power. In many respects this makes the car true to its heritage. Small British cars always placed a premium on handling and braking. Once the truck-testers suggested we turn off the traction control, it at least proved possible to smoke the 17″ run-flats through First gear. This is great fun, especially if you don’t have to pay for the tires. While the original Cooper’s 13.28-seconds 0-60 time was comparatively slow, it sounded like a million miles per hour.

Our truck-tester friends thought it was quick, just from the noise. Braking tests (60-0) were little more than a formality. The new Cooper is after all a BMW design, and its four-wheel discs with ABS produced easily repeatable results. The procedure? Stomp both brake and clutch pedals together, then let the computer do the rest. Not much drama here. After three successive stops, braking effectiveness was unchanged: 126.7′, 127.5′, and 128.5′.

The little old Cooper that could perhaps couldn’t by its third attempt. David never quite came to a stop, and drove in with smoke billowing off the discs. The truck guys, perhaps unused to seeing so much smoke without call for a fire extinguisher, firmly instructed the car not be allowed to sit until it had been driven to allow the front rotors to cool off. (The first run was a trial, and the second stopped in 156.0′ feet from 60 mph.)

With the slalom test remaining, the new Cooper was withdrawn. This led to some great speculation. Was the car withdrawn because, knowing in a test where acceleration and braking do not play a part, the classic car may have won? Wide modern tires and computer-aided suspension design would give the new car a theoretical advantage, but the much wider modern car would have had to move further side to side. Alas, we shall never know, but if you have ever seen a well-prepared classic Mini on track, one could easily speculate the new car got scared and ran away. In reality, driver David Rentfrow’s main slalom challenge in the old Mini was in not sliding off the old bench seat while whipping through the cones. And an ultimate testament to the new Mini’s handling prowess is that it’s currently Road & Track’s reigning slalom champ.

Sterile performance numbers alone have never been the true measure of car. Is it fun to drive? Does it respond as expected, or are there hidden vices waiting to trap the unwary? In this admittedly subjective realm, we shall have to call it a dead heat. Only once have I ever tried to keep pace with a modern sportscar while driving a classic. Worrying over the pace of the new car is pointless. Where old cars have the advantage is in the rewards for getting it right.

Handling

A few years ago I had the chance to drive a classic Mini in the Alps. Charging up or down a series of switchbacks in an old car is more an exercise in technique than sheer speed. One could spend an hour at a time shifting from second to third. Then braking hard and pulling a perfect heal to toe downshift back to second. So what if the car won’t run when it’s cold and the motor sounds like a mangled sewing machine? The work is immensely satisfying, and even if the brakes give out entirely, you’re not traveling fast enough to get hurt. Even on the downhill stretches an emergency downshift will provide enough revs and compression braking to save the car.

While I haven’t driven a new Cooper in the Alps, there are a few short stretches in the coastal mountains of Southern California in which one can duplicate the experience. It becomes plainly obvious; the levels of grip and power place this new car in a different realm. In spite of its superb brakes and brain-fade-saving traction control, the new Mini will bite back when pushed too far. While I have never feared building enough speed in an old Mini to slide off a cliff, the new car can generate serious momentum.

Are the new and old Minis fun to drive? Absolutely. Do they equally love tight, twisting mountain roads? In a word, yes. Is one better than the other? A loaded question indeed. I’ll say this much: The new Mini can be worked so hard through the hills that this driver has made himself car sick while driving. However, unlike a dog that will eat himself sick at any opportunity, with a little discretion the drivers of Minis new or old will have all the fun they can handle.

Sources:
Chuck Heleker, Seattle Area Mini Owners Association (SAMOA)

MiniGuy, Ventura, CA ( www.miniguy.com )

Moss Mini, Goleta, CA 93117,
(800) 895-2471, ( www.mossmini.com )

For the Full Article, with about 15 more pics and specs chart, see: www.britishmotoring.net/bm0402/mini/mini.html

For the Spec Sheet, see: www.britishmotoring.net/bm0402/mini/minichart.pdf

Another Pic – and Another Story – in our ‘Big and Little’ Series

Mar. 22, 2007 – A fellow classic Mini lover/nut from the San Diego area, Mike S., left a message that he’d stumbled on something he’d lusted after since his youth. While his daily driver’s a classic Mini (weighing a scant 1,300 lbs.), he inexplicably snagged the (5,000-lb.) 1951 Cadillac Superior Ambulance pictured here.

Mike says his now-beloved behemoth – with its mammoth 331-cubic-inch V-8 powerplant – is actually sort of “a luxury automobile merged with a utility vehicle” and, like a modern-day SUV, could haul people to the airport, and, in a pinch, tow one of his many Minis.

A scant hour after spotting it in an online classified ad, he was underneath the car and waving a $100 non-refundable deposit at the owner. The ambulance, formerly in service with the Navy, had changed hands a number of times by people with a whole lot more hope than, er, brains – or at least time and money.

In an ironic twist, this ambulance likely helped save lives, but was destined to be hacked in half to become a store display, just before its previous owner rescued it and rolled it home.

It started right up and ran so well that Mike opted to just drive it home, instead of the more-prudent tow. After a harrowing 15-mile adventure, it soon nestled next to its little sister, Mike’s own Mini.

In yet another ironic twist, Mike is probably best known as the person most likely to be first to arrive when another Mini owner needs to be rescued, whether from an actual breakdown, or someone that’s just getting in over his head on repairs. With tools in his trunk, Mike’s always ready to help. Now he’s got his red lights, siren – and a gurney in the back – and he’s ready to roll.

I’m fortunate to count him as a friend…