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Tom Buys Two Minis, But is Ready for His Own Now…

Feb. 1, 2007 – Tom L. and his father Vern, who live near Santa Maria in Central California, dropped in one time to my old showroom. Tom bought his red-and-white Mini Cooper from us in 2000, then promptly “lost” it to his wife, who wrote me an email a week later to say that, “the Mini was SUPPOSED to be Tom’s car, but i’ve been driving it all week and it’s more fun than my ’67 Camaro Rally Sport.”

About a month later, Tom stops in a again. It’s the day before Father’s Day, and he buys a nice British Racing Green Cooper for his (then 79-year-old) father, Vern.

When I saw Tom, Vern and their wives at the Vintage Races a few months later in their Minis, Vern’s wife Dorothy comes up and says, “You know, this was SUPPOSED to be Vern’s car….” It seems Vern’s out his Mini too!

Fast forward three years, and Tom and Vern show up at my showroom. It seems Tom is ready for a Mini of his own, so he’s shopping for a woodie, but the Mk1 Cooper with a 1380cc and a 5-speed sure put a grin on his face when he returned from a spin in it too…

We always warn our customers/friends that there’s some sort of unwritten rule that NOBODY is allowed to own just one Mini….

Incidentally, Vern has a long history with cars. Up until he was age 78, he competed in Hill Climb races in his ’49 supercharged MGTC, or was it his ’53 supercharged MGTD? His first car he bought at age 11, a 1926 Dodge sedan. He drove it all over the back roads near Yakima, Washington, where he lived about 4 miles outside of town. When he wanted to go to town, he’d just park it on the outskirts, and walk the rest of the way so he wouldn’t cause trouble with the local sheriff.

Both Tom and Vern have an interesting collection of cars, and we hope to feature them in a new section we’re now developing for this site, an area to showcase Mini and other interesting cars that are “Not for Sale.” If you have an interesting car, drop us an email with some pics of your car, and tell us a little about it, how you found it, how much work you have done upgrading or restoring it, or other interesting facts about it. If you might we willing to let it go to a new home, please let us know that too…

Project Mk1 Now at MiniGuy Showroom, Have Two Others Too!

May 16, 2004 – This 1960 Austin Mini Mk1 project has just arrived at our MiniGuy showroom in Ventura, and we’ve got two more here that aren’t yet added to our inventory pages.

This one has an engine that was rebuilt less than 100 miles ago. The 1275 S engine block has been cut down and fitted with a 1071 S crank, and racing pistons.

The car has sat for the last 8 years or so, so it will need a fair amount of work on the hydraulics and such.

Call or email for details on this Mk1 project, or the other two we have here.

My First, Third and Fourth Minis…

May 13, 2004 – Found this pic while going through a drawer. It’s a shot of my first Mini (on the left, in Island Blue), my third Mini, a red-and-white “Cooper lookalike,” and my fourth Mini, a light yellow Mini that ended up being the first car I ever sold “sight unseen.”

The couple standing by the red-and-white Mini bought that Mini from me, then took it home to a Central California coastal city.

I can’t remember the couple’s names, but if you are them, or know them, I’d love to hear about their adventures with the Mini. It’s the same Mini I took to the national Mini Meet in Colorado in 1999.

My second Mini was a black one that now lives in Portland, Oregon. I still get regular updates from the new owner…

If you’ve adopted your Mini(s) through me, please drop me a note and let me know how you and your Mini(s) are doing. Thanks!

Caption Contest? Nope, an Offer to Trade…

May 12, 2004 – While this picture might make a great shot to use in some sort of caption-writing contest, it was actually accompanied by an inquiry from the owner of this 1958 BMW Isetta, who is asking if we’d trade a nice Mini for it.

How about it? Anyone out there looking to trade? The Isetta is located in Oak Harbor, Washington, but we can help with transport arrangements.

Bill W. , its owner, had this to say about his Isetta, “The Isetta has been fun and truly brings more smiles than any car I’ve ever owned. However, I may be ready to move on to something different and a Classic Mini Cooper may just fit the bill. Toward that end, I am considering trading my 1958 BMW Isetta 300 for a Mini Cooper of equal value.

I’ve been very active in the Isetta community since 1999 and my Isetta is generally considered to be one of the ten best Isettas in the country. It has won numerous awards including a 1st place at a BMW Concours d’ Elegance show, 3rd place in the Microcar Division and the 2001 National Microcar and Minicar Meet, and it will shortly be featured on the television program called Driving Television. No expense was spared with the restoration and the pictures don’t really do the car justice.”

Bill continues, “In 2001 it was professionally appraised at $16,000.00 to $18,000.00 and is currently appraised and insured for $17,000.00 with Hagerty Insurance Company, Travis City, Michigan.”

Please let us know if you’d be interested in having us put you in touch with Bill, or if you have another interesting trade for him to consider.

p.s. – Godzilla is not included!

A Mini for a Dollar? How About Twice!

May 10, 2004 – One of the interesting things about Minis we’re offered is the stories that sometimes come with them.

This Old English White, left-hand-drive 1964 Austin Mini was sold new in the United States for just $1. What’s that you say, only a buck? Well, it was actually given away FREE by a Texas Jaguar dealer who did so to anyone buying a new Jaguar back then. Since the paperwork was so complicated to “give” a car away, the dealer would write it up as a $1 sale.

When a Texas rancher bought a new Jaguar, he got this particular Mini for $1 and gave it to his kids to drive around his ranch. Apparently, the kids were doing some spirited driving in the Mini one day, when they hit a rut and it rolled on its side in the pasture. And there it stayed – on its side in the field – for the next 30 years. With very few miles on the clock.

When Steve H. got wind of the abandoned Mini, he spoke with the rancher about giving the Mini a new home and lovingly restoring it to its former glory.

The rancher agreed, and sold it to Steve for exactly what he had paid for it – a dollar.

Steve stripped it to the bare shell, then dipped it. The only rust he found was in the battery box where the battery acid had leaked out, and ate into it.

With a lot of his own labor, and not a lot of expense, Steve ended up with the nice Mini you see here.

After enjoying it for a number of years, he offered the Mini to us in our Ventura showroom. The morning he was to deliver it, his neighbor saw him outside washing the Mini and asked him what he was doing. Steve told him he was about to drop it off at the MiniGuy showroom, and his neighbor asked if he’d sell it to him instead. Sigh… And we would have given him a LOT more than what he paid for it!!!

If you know of any Minis that might be available to be sent to a new home – from pristine to project – we’d love to hear from you!

Or, if you have a good Mini story, we’d love to hear from you too. Even more so, if you have pics. And thanks to all of you who are sending us feature-story ideas, memories and interesting photos.

A Subaru Started it All?

May 9, 2004 – With my life as MiniGuy now filled with Minis, I sometimes reflect on what could have sparked my interest in tiny, unusual cars.

The car shown here is a Subaru 360 (as in a whopping displacement of 360cc) van. It’s just like the first car I ever drove – unless you count sitting in my father’s lap steering the family car in a big parking lot.

I was about 12 years old, and an astute Sunday school teacher must have been inspired as to what would motivate a group of young boys. I can’t remember his name now, but he made us a promise I’ve never forgotten. He told us that if we had perfect attendance at Sunday school for a certain period of time, that he would take us down to the new car dealership in Studio City where he worked, and would allow us to drive a car.

So, the first car I ever drove was this tiny van – even though it was a stick shift and I had no concept of what a clutch and shifting was. Imagine a group of young boys, learning not only to drive, but to drive a stick shift. We puttered along behind the dealership in the back lot, next to rows of brand-spanking-new British cars, Volvos, Subarus and I don’t remember what else, bucking and lurching as we learned the nuances of gas, brake and clutch pedals.

Funny how life turns out. A few years ago, I taught a group of 16- and 17-year old young men at our church. So, can you guess what I did to motivate them? Yep! My former showroom in Camarillo was in a pretty remote location – it was actually on the site of the former state mental hospital. On an evening when the place was deserted, a bunch of them came out and we had a ball. Most of them in right-hand-drive cars, no less! Here’s to hoping we’ve spawned a whole new crop of tiny-car enthusiasts…

Minis and More at the Unique Little Car Show…

May 8, 2004 – If you tried calling or visiting the MiniGuy showroom today (Saturday), we were closed to attend the Unique Little Car Show in Long Beach, CA. Here’s just one of the nice Minis that were there. This one belongs to Long Beach resident and fellow Mini Owners of America – Los Angeles (MOALA) member Boris T. and his wife. He just recently finished it. Nice Mini, Boris!

The show is geared toward tiny, unusual cars with displacements under 1,100cc. As I understand it, the show originally began with Nash Metropolitans, but has since been expanded to include a wide variety of tiny and unusual cars. Just a few of the makes shown include Isetta, Subaru, Honda (600 sedans and coupes), Fiat, Citroen, Borgward, Metz, Messerschmitt, Amphicar, Crosley, Playboy (the car, not the bunnies), Austin, and a bunch of other oddball makes, and home-built oddities.

I’ll be posting more pics later…

A Rear View, and a Look Backward…

May 9, 2004 – Here’s a rear view of the Subaru 360 van.

Here’s another ironic twist. The desk I sit at in my Miniguy showroom in Ventura formerly belonged to Malcom Bricklin’s electric bicycle company, which produced the “EV Warrior” at a Burbank, CA business incubator before Malcolm’s company went belly up.

Malcolm is known not only for the “Bricklin” gull-wing sports car he built in the early 1970’s, but he was the man behind the importation of the original “Subaru” cars and vans, such as this one!

Oh, and after that, he was behind the importation of the very-low-budget “Yugo” cars, before a revolution in Yugoslavia (where it was built) meant there were no more spare parts available and the cars pretty much vanished from U.S. roads…

Last I heard, Malcolm was working on fuel cell-powered vehicles.

I expect that someday, I’ll be taking grandkids to a “car show” somewhere, where they will feature unique “gasoline-powered” vehicles and explaining to them that – back in my day – we didn’t have cars that ran on hydrogen, which produces only heat and pure water vapor as their exhaust…

I Seen an Isetta…

May 9, 2004 – I’ve always liked Isettas, since a friend’s Dad had one when I was very young. Way cool! This incredibly nice ’59 belongs to Gary & Denise P., of Ridgecrest, CA. He restored it from the ground up, and has nice pics of the whole process.

Gary had a ’60 Mini back in about ’72 that he later sold. The man he sold it to died about 20 years ago, but his widow won’t sell it back to Gary. Instead, the Mini sits outside in her back yard, unused and unrestored.

Gary told me his first love has always been a Mini, and hopes to get one again someday…

Another Isetta, Under Restoration…

May 9, 2004 – Here’s another Isetta that was display, with a show entry form noting that this “car” is “under restoration”…
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Something You Don’t See Every Day…

May 8, 2004 – Here’s something you don’t see every day. Driving to work, I spotted this California Highway Patrol (CHP) car pulling a trailer – and on the trailer, is a CHP motorcycle…

Oops, this is a Mini-related web site. Hmm… Oh yeah, when driving your Mini, be sure to keep an eye out for the CHP!

This TR4’s Not For Sale, So Don’t Even Ask!

May 7, 2004 – One of the nice things about being the MiniGuy is the many folks who stop by to show me their cool cars, and to talk about cars.

This really nice ’62 Triumph TR4 is the rare “surrey top” model. It’s owned by my good friend and fellow member of the Central Coast British Car Club (CCBCC), C. Darryl Struth, who also owns a number of cool cars, including the Model A rod featured here a few weeks ago.

Darryl has owned this TR4 since 1986, and guesses it’s worth in the range of $15,000, but says its not for sale at any price.

Just for fun, I asked him, “What if the ‘village idiot’ showed up with bags and bags of cash and just HAD to have this car – what sort of number might pry it loose from you?”

Darryl, in his own crusty way, said it’s not for sale at ANY price. He says that of all his toys, only this TR4, and the 1961 Ford Falcon Ranchero that his mother owned for a long time before he got it, are not for sale. In the picture below, you can see the surrey top, a Porsche-Targa-like roof that acommodates an aluminum top in the center, or the convertible top he has fitted on it today.

Nice car, Darryl. Um, is it for sale? (giggle…)

If you are looking for any other interesting cars, feel free to drop me your wish list. We’re offered a lot of interesting cars, and we have a network of spotters all over the world!

Just Arrived… A Two-Seat Van w/ Windows and 1100cc engine…

May 5, 2004 – This Mini looks like a wagon, but it’s actually a two-seat panel van with windows. It’s now in our Ventura showroom, where we’re finishing up a few odds and ends on it. Will likely be asking in the mid-$6K to $7K range, but contact us if you’d like to finish it up yourself and save some money. Runs great, drives great. Has $1,000 worth of recent brake work, so it stops very well. Has been fitted with an 1,100cc engine that runs strong. Has the Australian doors, which have the external hinges, but have the roll-up windows and wind wings too. Right hand drive. Four speed. Call or email for more details…

Bare 1960 Mk1 Shell Available. Other Project Mk1’s on the Way…

May 6, 2004 – We’ve been offered this bare 1960 Mini shell, and the owner will take the best offer UNDER $1,000. Floors are solid, roof is solid, and has only some cancer in the LH “A” panel, the rest is just surface rust. It’s currently located at our Ventura shop, but could possibly be delivered. Very solid, Contact us for details on how to reach the owner, or for more pics… We have a containerload of Mk1 project cars on the way too. Arrival date is in a couple weeks. Drop us a note if you’d like to be notified when the pictures arrive, or the cars arrive…

One of the Mini’s Italian Rivals, the Fiat 600…

May 4, 2004 – Looking for something a little different? Here’s a local car that’s tiny, unique, and cheap! It’s a ’57 Fiat 600 with suicide doors. Has original California black-and-yellow license plates, and pretty much all the parts are there. along with a bunch of extra parts.

This week only, it’s just $1,200 or best offer. May accept interesting trades. Call or email for more info, and our inspection on it. We can send dozens of digital pics. Parts are readily available.

Another Mini to Texas, Then on to Mexico…

May 3, 2004 – Here’s Victor M. of Marlin, TX behind the wheel of his “new” 1970 Mini. His English isn’t too good, but he speaks “Mini” very well! And the grin from a Mini test drive is understandable in any language!

We’ll be bringing you your Mini later this week, Victor! He and his wife Josie will then be driving it down to their other home in Mexico. Have a safe trip, and keep us updated with your Mini adventures!

Another Happy Customer, Another Big ‘n’ Little Shot…

May 2, 2004 – When Joey A. called us for his dream Mini, but had a low budget, we were still able to help him find one.

Here’s the Mini he ended up with. When it arrived at the port from England, we offered him $1,000 more than he had into it, but he turned us down flat! Nice Mini, Joey!

Here’s a note he sent after his Mini came home:

“This picture shows Los Angeles welcoming our Mini, which just arrived from England. This Mini is a dream come true for me. I previously owned a 1970 Honda 600 sedan, and I love tiny cars. (Like they say, once you go small you never want to go big!) I’ve always wanted a Mini Cooper, but it wasn’t until I met a very professional, honest and kind guy – Michael Lewis, the “MiniGuy” – that I really fell in love with these cars. Michael, with his kindness and patience, told me everything about Minis. He not only shared his knowledge about them, but also helped me to find my Mini – and to go through the whole importing process. Thanks to Michael I got the car of my dreams!”

Messages like that really make our day here at MiniGuy!

By the way, Joey started buying lots of Mini-related items, and is offering some of his extras on Ebay. Click on This Link (Item #7901303180) to one of his current auctions, or search Ebay by seller “ukminy2”.

Joey, please keep us updated about your adventures with your Mini!

We’re Buying, From California to Texas

May 1, 2004 – Time for another road trip!

We just sold a very nice original Mini to a family in Marlin, Texas. We’ll be delivering it ourselves this week, and returning with an empty trailer.

If you have a Mini for sale, or know of one that’s roughly along that general route, we’d love to hear from you. Anything from pristine to project. Any year, running or not.

Heck, we’ll even provide a finder’s fee (cash, Mini parts, or whatever) if you refer us to one that we end up buying or brokering. We are particularly interested in ones that aren’t advertised, but let us know about anything that might work for us. Even other tiny, or unusual cars. Or ’50s and ’60s Detroit Iron, including Mustangs, ’50’s Ford pickups, or what have you.

Or, if you have a car that might be a contender for our Consignment pages, (ie: where the car and title stay with you, and we bring you a buyer), we can come and do our famous “inch-by-inch” inspection, and take dozens of digital pics while we are there. Followed by a test drive, and a mechanical evaluation. With that first-hand, “with-our-own-eyes” information, we can better help find a new home for your Mini.

If after our inspection, it turns out that we’re not interested in cashing you out for your car, or at the price you are asking, we may still be able to help you. We could still be interested in bringing it back to our Ventura showroom, where we would have it on Consignment at an agreed-upon price to you for a sale. Since we are returning to California with an otherwise empty trailer, there would be no transport charge at all.

We are a bonded, licensed dealer, so you are protected if we don’t come through. (ie: You simply file a complaint with the California DMV, they pay you out of our dealer bond, and we lose our license.) If the car is in our showroom on Consignment, we would have a written contract between us, as required by California law. For your protection, the title stays with you, until we make the sale. Call for more details, or for references for the many other folks who we have helped to find new homes for their Minis.

We also consider trade-ins, trade-ups, and cash-back trade-downs.

p.s. – If you are referring us to potential cars for sale, please email us first. If you need our fax number, please call or email for it.

Thanks, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you…

-Michael “MiniGuy” Lewis / miniguy@miniguy.com / cell (805) 405-6263 / calls to 11pm (CA time) are fine.

UPDATE: May 3 – Just to clarify, we’re so swamped here at the MiniGuy showroom, that I won’t be joining my helper on this buying trip. Call or email me with the details on what you have, and I’ll send my trusted helper your way to evaluate your Mini, and perhaps we’ll give it a new home!

It’s a Small World, When it Comes to These Small Cars…

April 30, 2004 – While on the road seeking a street in Central California where the Island Blue Mini that’s now on our “Here Now” page was located, we spotted this silver Mini with a “For Sale” sign on it.

Underneath the dust, was a familiar face. We had sold this automatic-transmission Mini to Darrell H., and his Thousand Oaks family, about four years ago. Before Darrell upgraded to another Mini from MiniGuy, it sold to a Woodland Hills buyer. That gentleman, Steve S., contacted us to sell the Mini. It later ended up going to a new home. The current owner says he bought it from his next-door neighbor in Central California, then he added the flames to personalize it.

It’s now for sale again. It will soon appear on our Consignment pages, once we get fresh pics. This shot was taken after a cloudburst, so it’s pretty dirty.

Drop us an email if you’d like more info, or pics, or for pricing. It’s currently located in Visalia, in Central California.

Ironically, we spotted this Mini not even 30 minutes after had Darrell called us on our cell phone to discuss the delivery of another car he’s buying from our Ventura showroom – the third car he’s adopted from us!

Another Candidate for Our ‘Big and Little’ Shots?

April 29, 2004 – Saw this behemoth while on the freeway in Santa Barbara. Apparently, it’s a tour vehicle that doubles as a harbor-tour vessel. From that high up, we image the view is very much like what you would have from the top of an open-roof, English double-decker bus. Incidentally, England is where the classic Mini was built for 41 years before production ended in the year 2000. See, we here at MiniGuy can make almost any topic Mini-related. We were towing a recently acquired Mini behind us, and wished we could get a side by side shot of the Mini next to the truck/boat/bus. See, another reference to Minis!

p.s. – You can’t see it from this angle, but there’s a propellor protruding from the rear of the vehicle. Email us if you’d like a shot from the rear…

How About a Heinkel?

April 28, 2004 – On our travels up north seeking nice Minis, we ran across this cool, tiny car today. It’s a 1960 Heinkel, a German-built microcar powered by a 200cc single-cylinder engine. Sorry, the owner says this one’s already sold, but we’d love to hear about any other tiny, unusual cars that might be for sale.

Incidentally, the Mini was originally designed to counter the threat posed by these microcars. Mini designer Alec Issigonis believed that the answer was a small car that could still carry four full-size adults. He reportedly sketched the first drawing of the front-wheel-drive, horizontally-positioned-engine-powered car on a napkin. And thus, the legend was born…

Road Trip Today – We’ve Been Offered This Blue One…

April 27, 2004 – We’re headed up to the San Francisco Bay Area today (Tuesday) to see this nice bright blue ’73 Mini. It’s a genuine Mk3 shell, not a reshell or anything like that. It has a rebuilt 1275cc, Cooper S disc brakes, and a roll bar.

If you are interested in seeing it -perhaps on our way back down south – please call me on my cell phone: (805) 405-6263.

NOTE: Our Ventura showroom will be closed today, since I’ll be on the road.

If you are along the 5 or 101 freeways, or in the Bay Area, and you have a Mini that might be for sale, please call me on my cell. Thanks!

Sorry, Gone Campin’ ….

April 23, 2004 – If you tried calling MiniGuy Friday afternoon (or on Saturday), this pic explains why you just got voice mail instead.

Along with being the MiniGuy, I’m also a father to my three boys. And, since they’re not getting any younger, I’ve been trying to spend more time with them doing what they want to do. When I received an invitation to join my oldest son and his Scout troop this weekend, I was only to happy to oblige!

That’s why it’s important that if you are thinking of paying a visit to our Ventura showroom, it’s always good to call or email a couple days ahead of time to make an appointment…

By the way, in Scout leader training, they told us that often at around age 16 or so, the Scouting program begins to lose boys to “two liquids.” What are they, you might ask? Well, that would be perfume, and gasoline of course! (ie: girls, and cars).

Thanks to all the great Scout leaders I had as a youth, and I’m glad to be able to help my son’s Scoutmaster and his assistants to help these boys build character, and to make memories and build friendships that will likely last a lifetime…

One Mini is Good, But Two is Better…

April 25, 2004 – After Jonathan B. adopted this Mini and we loaded it on a transporter (see March 27), the Mini joined its sister at its new home in Guilford, Connecticut.

We just got this pic, and this email update:

“Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2004 7:22 PM
Subject: Greetings from Connecticut. Pics of BRG Cooper S at new home

Hello Michael,
I finally got a chance to take some family pictures with our Mini “children” at their new home.

The only thing more fun than a Mini is… two Minis! And since we now have a right-hand-drive (RHD) and a left-hand-drive (LHD) model, we can drive and hold hands at the same time!

The photos are taken in our yard, which ends at Long Island Sound. We get sunsets over the water because we are on a little penninsula. We wanted the water as a backdrop for these photos. Unfortunately, the light was coming from the wrong direction when the picture was taken.

Hope all is well with you…

Jonathan & Nancy B.
[…]

Thanks for the update, Jonathan!

By the way, if you are traveling along Route 1-I95 in Connecticut, take Exit 57 and stop by his family’s fruit and produce store in Guilford, (which isn’t far from New Haven). It’s called Bishop’s Orchards, and we’re told it’s Connecticut’s finest farm market. The market has been run by Jonathan’s family since 1871!

When you stop in, please tell Jonathan hello from the MiniGuy…

Nancy, Jonathan’s wife, is the principal of the local elementary school – and the Minis are a big hit with the kids when she drives one to work!

Thanks again to all the folks who have adopted their Minis through the MiniGuy, and we look forward to updates and pics of you and your Mini(s)!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…

April 22, 2004 – This nice Innocenti Mini has just left the MiniGuy showroom headed for its new home in Redlands, California.

John B., who adopted the Mini from us, was trying to figure out who he could have drive him out the 2.5 hours each way, when we told him that we are just two blocks from the Amtrak station in Ventura.

So, he hopped aboard the Metrolink commuter rail system near his home, and switched to an Amtrak train at Union Station in Los Angeles. Not long after that, he was in Ventura and behind the wheel of this nice Mini headed for home.

Lots of folks have used the train, including one couple from Albuquerque, New Mexico who had us build a Mini to order for them in the UK, then drove it home after their train trip.

Another way to get to our Ventura showroom is the Greyhound bus, since the Ventura bus station is just three blocks away.

Flying in? If you land in Burbank, the commuter rail/Amtrak station is across the street from the airport.

From Los Angeles International (LAX) airport, there’s cheap shuttle buses and vans, or plenty of rental cars.

From the (San Francisco) Bay Area, many of our customers have rented one-way rental cars at bargain rates, and dropped them near here and just drove their Mini home.

Planning a trip to see us? Drop us an email and we’ll send you a Word document with local hotel and motel info, good restaurants in the area, fun things to do with your family, and other useful information.

SUV? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ SUV’s!

April 24, 2004 – After hangin’ out with a bunch of Boy Scouts at a Camporee this weekend (see April 23 below), we decided to see just how roomy the MiniGuy’s Mini really is.

Ten Scouts, and one MiniGuy? No problem… There’s even room for a few more!

Got a Mini? Want a ‘Vette?

April 21, 2004 – We sometimes get folks who are looking to trade their current car for a Mini. This ’87 Corvette Z52 liftback was just offered to us. It’s a great looking car, but the clearcoat on the original black paint is pretty much dead. It has its stock tuned-port injection 350 CID, automatic transmission, leather interior, and American Racing “Concourse” alloys (that are in need of a polish). Has 107K miles, and it runs great and doesn’t smoke. The roof comes off, and stores in the rear hatchback area. Other than the wheels, some thin blue (painted on) pinstripes, and an upgrade to the stiffer Z51 shocks, this car is all original – and ready to enjoy!

If you might be interested in a trade, or could let us know what it’s worth in today’s market, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call or drop us an email…

And if you have something interesting you might want to trade in, let us know – particularly if it’s a Mini. Dead or alive…

Mini Sold, Mini Bought. Goin’ Racin’ Now…

April 20, 2004 – When Houston, Texas-area Mini owner Jonathan C. contacted us about finding a new home for his Mini, we were only too happy to help him.

With the proceeds of that sale, he bought this nice, semi-race-prepped ’61 Austin Mk1 Mini that’s hard to miss in its “Kermit” green paint and checkerboard roof.

Jonathan, a member of Mini Owners of Texas (MOT), plans to run the car in local races.

According to Jonathan, it was first used for circle-track racing in Austin Texas. It’s reportedly absolutely rust-free. It has a full, welded-in roll cage, custom dash and the doors have been gutted to lighten weight. It is fitted with an 8-gallon fuel cell that can be filled from the outside filler neck. The bottom end of the engine is completely built for racing, with a lightened flywheel, wedged crank, chrome-plated journals, Cooper “S” rods, and center main strap. It has a streetable Kent 286 cam, standard rockers, and a streetable cylinder head. The carb is a 1 3/4″ SU. The adjustable suspension is fully rose-jointed. Wheels are 10×6 with new Yokohama sticky-soft A008 rubber. The exhaust is a center-exit twin DTM setup, and it’s very loud!

Not content with the above, Jonathan plans to fit a Longman head, Kent 296 scatter-pattern cam, Weber 45 carb, a limited-slip differential and a straight-cut “dog box” transmission. He already has wide arches for some wider wheels, and a set of Lexan windows that he’ll install soon.

Jonathan plans to race in a vintage class called CVAR with “Jolly Roger Racing.” He’s not sure what to expect for racing expenses, but says he expects his engine to last two seasons, a set of tires to be replaced each season, “plus whatever I break or whatever fails.”

Jonathan reports it’s a blast to drive, and he’ll keep us updated on his racing adventures!

Glad we could help you get into your next Mini, Jonathan!

p.s. – If you know of race Minis – or any Minis, from pristine to project, that might be for sale, we at MiniGuy would like to hear from you!

Vintage Teardrop-Style Trailer for Your Mini?

April 19, 2004 – Check out the pic of this cool retro trailer, and it just might be right for pulling behind a Mini as it’s only 600 pounds! The aluminum-skinned “Teardrop-style” trailer is built from birch plywood, and features a full “kitchenette” with sink, counter top, shelf, water tank and icebox in the lift-up rear section. The main part of the trailer is a scant four feet wide, plus the fenders and tires.

The builder offers it a bare-bones model without the kitchenette, and offers a choice of “period” or modern fixtures. Based on his current workload, figure on a 3-month build time.

It’s also available in a “kit” form, if you’d like to build it yourself.

Drop us an email at: trailerguy(at)miniguy.com if you’d like more pics, or more info.

Go-Kart-like Handling? BMW, Can We Talk?

April 18, 2004 – An open letter to BMW’s MINI marketing team:

Hello from the MiniGuy and his family-

We keep reading on your company’s web site all about the “go-kart-like handling” of the “new” (BMW) MINI, so we thought we’d put it to the test.

This go-kart is one of three that’s been in our family for more than 20 years. After sitting for too long, we dusted it off and spent much of our children’s Spring Break doing our best to wear the tires down to the cord. As you can see from the left rear tire, we have succeeded. However, at no time did the go-kart handle like your car, as nice as your car is. We do have a Honda Accord that is much closer to the feel of your car.

I trust it won’t be too difficult to edit all your promotional materials. Unless “Accord-like handling” might get you in trademark trouble…

Now, if you could only replicate the handling of the classic Mini Cooper, you’d have some product there! We’d be happy to loan you one of ours for your development work.

Sincerely,

Mr. and Mrs. MiniGuy, and our three little MiniGuys-in-training.

(We’ve enclosed a pic of our our oldest, the 12-year-old.)