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How Safe Are These Minis?

Feb. 20, 2007 – One question that often comes up when folks talk with us here at MiniGuy, is, “How safe are these Minis?”

Pictured here is not a Mini, but an SUV on its roof on the freeway. What does that have to do with Minis? Well, prior to becoming the MiniGuy, I worked as an automotive journalist. One piece I wrote was when SUVs were just starting to become popular. Folks buying them said that they were buying them for “extra safety”, but U.S. government transportation experts and other transportation researchers determined that statistically, you are more likely to be killed in an accident in an SUV, than if you were in an accident in a passenger car.

How can that be, you ask?

Well, SUVs are truck-based, and they have a much higher center of gravity. Get into any kind of trouble, and a blown tire, a swift swerve, or a moment of distraction can put you right over on your roof!

As a former journalist and former photographer, I go everywhere with my trusty digital camera strapped to my hip. Since it uses “recycled” electrons (ie: recharged using electricity), it’s basically free for me to snap at whatever catches my eye. (And I take lots and lots of detailed Mini pics too, of course.)

In my travels, I’ve acquired quite an extensive collection of SUVs using their roofs in entirely inappropriate ways, shall we say.

Back to the original question, how safe are these Minis?

Firstly, I tell everyone considering a Mini that there are some basic laws of physics that just can’t be overcome – meaning if you tangle with a Suburban, the Suburban will win.

The key to safety in a Mini lies with the driver of the Mini. I say you need to drive in what I call “Full Paranoid Mode,” meaning that you need to pretend that nobody can see you, that everyone is out to get you, or that you are on a motorcycle (with basically no protection around you.)

You NEVER go through an intersection blind, meaning you make SURE it is safe to enter the intersection no matter what the traffic signal says. The worst position to be in in a Mini is to be hit from the side. Make sure it’s safe before you go through the intersection, and be wary of driveways, folks that could turn left in front of you, or any other situation like that.

I tell people that if you live in a congested, downtown area – that this may not be the car for you. Minis need wide open roads, preferably curvy ones, where you can get away from other drivers, and other potential threats to your safety.

If someone tells me they are considering a Mini for their 16-year-old’s first car, I say PLEASE DON’T! I say, buy a car with a whole lot more metal around it, until they develop the driving maturity and experience they should have before getting behind the wheel of any small car. I was 16 once, I know what I’m talking about.

I also tell folks: If you are the type of driver who talks on their cell phone while fiddling with the radio, then a classic Mini is NOT for you.

Sure, you can retrofit an airbag to a Mini, but it’s VERY costly, and may give you a false sense of security. Better to just drive very careful, I say.

Proper maintenance is critical on a Mini. One advantage to buying a Mini from a licensed dealer, is that in California, a licensed dealer cannot even offer for sale a Mini (or any car or truck) that has not been fully safety checked, and all safety-related repairs completed. You don’t have that same protection buying from an unlicensed dealer, or someone trying to unload their Mini who isn’t disclosing – or isn’t aware of – a potential safety problem. The first Mini I bought – from a private party – blew out a rear wheel cylinder on the second day I drove it, causing me to lose my brakes just as I neared my home. The scary part is I had earlier driven rapidly through a steep mountain canyon! Ironically, in the boxes of spare parts that came with the Mini when I bought it, there sat a brand-new wheel cylinder. However, the former owner apparently neglected to tell me that it needed to be installed VERY soon!

I once heard something that went a bit like this: “The most important safety-related part on a car is the ‘nut’ behind the wheel.” (ie: And we’re not talking about the big hexagon-shaped nut that screws onto the steering shaft and holds on the steering wheel in place!)

P.S. – My wife hates it when I sell Minis, she always says it sounds like I’m trying to talk folks OUT of buying a Mini…

On the plus side, a Mini is a MUCH smaller target, and harder to hit! Anyone could tag a big ‘ol Suburban if they wanted to…

I’ve driven and commuted in tiny cars for years, and there are some situations where I believe a Mini is actually safer!

First, by its very nature, it forces the driver to be MUCH more aware of their surroundings, and potential threats to their safety.

Another situation is when commuting in stop-and-go traffic. You sometimes look in your rear-view mirror, and you see a car sliding up behind you. In a regular size car, you can do nothing but sit there and take the hit – but in a Mini that’s only four-and-a-half feet wide, you can actually cut between two lanes of traffic to save your skin. Heck, drive up onto the sidewalk or wherever you need to, just to avoid being a sitting duck.

Another reason I believe Minis to be safer is that they are so UNUSUAL. If you were driving an old gray Honda, someone behind you could be just zoning out, putting on makeup, eating, talking on their cell phone, reading the newspaper in snatches, or fiddling with the radio dials, or whatever.

However, a Mini is so unusual that folks sit up and take notice. They are more likely to notice you – because the car is so different! And they point you out to everyone else in their car – and grin and wave at you.

Of course, all that looking at you in the Mini isn’t always good. In the five-or-so years I’ve been using a classic Mini as pretty much my daily driver, I know of at least two accidents that were caused by drivers that were looking at me on the road! Sorry about that… But that’s stories for another day…

Let’s be careful out there, okay?

Rust Busted, Thanks to Space-Age Technology…

April 15, 2004 – Not long after we posted our April 14 piece, “Ashes to Ashes… and Steel Bodies to Rust , Rust & More Rust…”, we had another email and some phone calls from David G., an automotive whiz kid/engineer/speed freak/all-around car nut/ Mini fan who has developed quite a solution to the problem, a “better mouse trap,” if you will…

We were so convinced with his solution, that we beat a path to his door and ordered one for our MiniGuy showroom!

It is scheduled to be delivered in mid-to-late July.

Unless somebody throws some “silly money” at us for it before we get started, we plan to build it up and post pics of the progress, or you can stop by and see it through our Ventura showroom windows 24 hours per day!

Pictured here (and in the three pics below) is what looks like a very nice Mini, but what you can’t see is that its body shell, doors, bootlid and bonnet are constructed of space-age composites – that together tip the scales as just over 200 pounds!

Here’s what David had to say about his product:

“These cars are for the descriminating mini enthusiast, who desires a one-of-a kind, original, hand-built Mini, designed exactly to the customer’s specifications. Each Mini is painstakingly engineered and assembled to outperform any vehicle in its class, let alone any Mini. The drivetrain applications/options are limitless. However, some our preferred engine/ transmission applications include “detuned” Formula Atlantic engines (Toyota 4AGE), ranging from 170hp in naturally aspirated form to over 200hp supercharged, with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed sequential “paddle shift” gearbox. The amazing aspect of these front wheel drive configurations is that the engine and transmission packages “drop in” as a direct replacement to the original A-Series engine. This means no “tubbing out” of the entire front end to get the drivetrain package to fit and – more importantly – no unstable, offset weight biasing as one feels when they drive one of the [Honda] “VTEC” conversions. Moreover, due to the centered engine/transmission configuration, the output driveshafts are equal length, which virtually eliminates the unsettling torque steer found in the VTEC conversion. Mid-engine, 265hp configurations and convertible models are also available upon request. More information regarding these unique, one of a kind vehicles can be obtained by calling me.”

You bet we called him!

Click Here for More Info… or drop us an email for more info, or for an appointment to come and drool on it after it arrives…

Ashes to Ashes… and Steel Bodies to Rust , Rust & More Rust…

April 14, 2004 – Nearly 5.5 million classic Minis were built between 1959 and late 2000, when production ended.

Unfortunately, the ravages of rust have taken many of them.

Here’s a pic from a Mini I looked at tonight. Just pushing on the floor with one finger caused this cascade of rust chunks, and rust dust…

That reminds me. When you see an ad that says “Rust Free,” sometimes you’ll find that what they really mean is “Free Rust” – meaning there’s lots of rust, they just won’t be CHARGING you for it!

I once asked a person selling a Mini exactly how much rust it had, and his reply was, “Well, it’s not hanging!”

Let’s Remember the Reason for the Season…

Sunday, April 8, 2007 – On this Easter Sunday, amidst all the chocolate bunnies, sweets and Easter egg hunts, it’s our family’s prayer that we will all remember the reason for the season…

Hurry kids, it’s time to dress in our Sunday best, pile into the Mini and head off to church!

Life is good… Life is very good!

Rat Bike? How About a Rat Mini?

April 8, 2004 – Cruisin’ the Internet, I stumbled on a bizarre web site, ( www.ratbike.org ), which features creations such as this, and other truly odd motorcycles.

How does this relate to Minis? Well, this contraption started life as a Rover automobile, and Rover was the name of the company which built the “classic” Mini in the later years, before production ceased in October 2000.

This pic got me to thinking. What sort of “rat” Minis are out there? Perhaps we could make it sort of a contest, with a “priceless” MiniGuy.com trinket as the prize? What do you say? Do you know of a bizarre Mini? Send us the pics. Best if it’s a pic you took yourself, but if you pull one from the web, please give the web address so we can give credit where credit is due.

p.s – if you go to the “Junkyard” section of the ratbike site, check out the Rover V8-powered (yes, you read that right!) rat bike from New Zealand. Supposedly, the owner drives it daily…

Mammoth ‘Monster Truck’ Meets Teeny-Tiny Mini…

April 9, 2004 – This “big and little” shot is sent to us by Tim M., now of Klamath Falls in southern Oregon. The Monster Trucks put on a show at the fairgrounds there a couple of times a year. Tim boldly marched up to Phil Foster, and asked permission to take a pic of his Mini next to Phil’s truck. He was only too happy to oblige – and said it would be fine for Tim to share it with y’all on this site…

Tim adopted his Mini through MiniGuy, then infected his Dad with the Mini bug too!

Y’all keep those interesting pics and news items coming…

Radio, Radio, Who’s Got The Mini Radio?

April 7, 2004 – While MiniGuy does not generally sell parts, we often get inquiries from folks looking for Mini parts. One gentleman contacted us to find an “original” radio for the 1972 Mini he’s adopting from us.

We replied, “Regarding radios, Minis did not originally come with them, particularly in the year that your Mini was built. The “legend” that I heard was that when they later asked the original designer of the Mini about adding radios, he supposedly said no. He supposedly said something to the effect of, “They are small cars. They are not safe. You should be paying attention. No radios!” I don’t know if the story is true or not, but new Minis did not come with radios until much later, when the original car designer was either dead – or close to it! (As far as I know, the radios were not offered in new Minis from the factory until sometime in the 1980’s.)”

Of course, a few days after we sent him the message, we received the
Almond Green Mk1 Innocenti Mini that’s now in our showroom – and can be seen on our “Here Now” page. Pictured here is the radio fitted in it. It appears to be a very nice installation, with a mounting bracket that’s “wrinkle-finish” black just like the same type paint on the heater unit. I’ve heard it said that the (assembled-in-Italy) Innocenti Minis were “built to a higher standard” than their cousins built in England, or assembled elsewhere.

How about it? Does anyone out there know if a ’67 Innocenti would have been available with a factory-installed radio, or might this have been a dealer-installed unit? Or?

We’re always interested to learn more about Minis, so we can better help our customers and friends… Can you help us out here?

Drool, Drool, Slobber, Slobber…

April 5, 2004 – We at MiniGuy get a lot of visitors, and many of them are driving cool cars. Had a visit from Darryl S., with his all-steel 1929 Ford Model A that’s powered by a 350 Chevy V-8 and turbo 350 automatic trans.

It’s actually for sale, at a fraction of what it would cost you to build one like it – IF you could find a solid donor car. It reportedly sold new in California, and lived here its entire life – so there’s no rust anywhere.

It’s a sport coupe, with the top removed. Still has the rollup windows in the doors.

If you are interested, I’ve got six pages of notes, and TONS of pics.

Drop me an email or call for more details, or if you’d like an appointment to see it…

Or if you have something interesting, Darryl just might be willing to trade. He’d prefer something Ford-powered, since he’s a retired Ford salesman…

My first car – which I still own – is a ’64 Chevy El Camino, now powered by a 350 and a Muncie M-22 transmission. When I took a spin in Darryl’s rod, it made me realize I’ve still got a bit of the ‘ol street-racer left in me…

Another Visitor, Another Hot Rod – But This One’s Sorta British…

April 6, 2004 – Local hot-rod builder Bill C. stopped by the other day with pics of his latest project, a Morris Minor Woodie powered by an obscenely fast V8.

Please excuse the poor pic, it’s a digital-camera shot of the snapshots he brought in to show me his progress…

Retro Mk1 Combines Old, New…

April 4, 2004 – Here’s one we recently had built to order by one of our UK craftsmen, a Mk1-retro-style Mini that’s now gone to its new home in the Boston area.

The bright yellow Mini is fitted with the Mk1-style “moustache grill,” the Mk1 (small oval) taillights, and a Mk1 bootlid with the flip-down license plate holder. To complete the retro look, it has a period-style reverse light fitted to the bootlid. Modern upgrades include the 12″ Minilite-style (8-spoke) alloy wheels, 8.4″ disc brakes with servo (brake booster) and a dual-circuit master cylinder, which all together provide a smoother ride and better, safer braking.

Another nice feature on this retro-style Mini is that it has rollup windows, rather than the sliders of the genuine Mk1’s.

Bob T. flew out to our California showroom, where we helped him determine the ideal features for his dream Mini. We then had one of our UK builders build it to order and ship it direct to him on the East Coast.

And we can build another just like it – or in a color or with the features you need! Just give MiniGuy a call…

Mk1 Mini Offered to Us, Well Under $2,000…

April 3, 2004 – Just after we ran our tongue-in-cheek April Fools Day item on the “two-thirds-off” Mini (see April 1 below), we got a call from a local guy selling a very-low-cost Mini. It has an 1,100cc engine with a four-speed manual transmission, and we saw it running – and driving – up until a few weeks ago when the owner borrowed the twin carb setup it had for another Mini project.

He contemplated just parting out the car, and it wasn’t until we pleaded with him not to do that, that he relented and offered it to us at a VERY CHEAP price.

Call or email us for more details, or more pics. We have a LOT of pics, of all areas of the Mini. It’s located not far from the MiniGuy showroom in Ventura…

Junior Journalist Visits, Interviews MiniGuy…

April 2, 2004 – Here’s an email we recently received; The pic you see is the end result.

[…] To: miniguy@miniguy.com
Mr. MiniGuy- I’m in elementary school in Santa Barbara and really like Minis. We are doing a magazine and one of my articles is on Mini Coopers. I also have to do an interview for it and I was wondering whether I could do the interview with you. I could come to Ventura to do the interview, I could email you the questions, or I could call you. It’s up to you. It should only take 15 minutes. We could do this anytime in the next two weeks. Thanks, Josh B.

As a former student journalist, then professional journalist, then News Editor, I was only too happy to help 11-year-old Josh B. with his project.

Mrs. J., his 6th grade teacher at Hope Elementary in Santa Barbara, had given an assignment to create a magazine around a theme. Along with an article on classic Mini Coopers, Josh’s magazine will also include articles written by him on antique cars, future cars, hybrid cars and hydrogen-powered cars. Not content with that, he also plans an article on how engines work.

Hmm… He’s this ambitious, and he’s only 11 years old? What do you say Josh, when you finish school, would you like a job at MiniGuy?

Following the interview, we of course sent him home with an armload of Mini posters, magazines, MiniGuy stickers, and a die-cast Mini too. (Insert nefarious laugh here.) It’s all part of our long-term, diabolical plan to nurture an irresistable desire within him to someday see us to adopt a classic Mini of his own…

Another View of Our Mini for ‘Two-Thirds’ Off…

April 1, 2004 – Here’s another pic of the Mini for 2/3 off!.

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Happy April Fools Day!

But seriously, if you are looking for a project Mini, give us a call. Many of the Mini projects we are offered never even make it on our Web site!

If you have an unloved project Mini, or other interesting car, please give us a call and we’ll help you find a loving new home for it…

p.s. to QuickSilver – call me in about two days, I’ve got a line on about three project Mk1 Minis that could work for you!

Mk1 Mini Sale: 66.6% Off, Today Only!

April 1, 2004 – We at MiniGuy often get requests from folks on a budget for Minis that need “a little work.”

Project Minis are hard to come by, but we located this one.

We then offered it on a popular Internet message board for Minis, with a note to “QuickSilver,” one of the most persistent in his search for an affordable Mini project.

He had adopted a Mini from us previously, then sold it in a moment of weakness. He’s really looking for a Mk1, that he can really do up right.

We offered this one to him at 2/3 off, but for today only.

See the picture below for more views…

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Like Son, Like Mother… Better Take a Pair…

March 31, 2004 – We here at MiniGuy are proud to have adopted out a half-dozen pairs of father-son Minis, and a pair of mother-daughter Minis, but here’s a pic of our first son-mother set of Minis.

Stanley G. of San Diego got his Mini first, but when Mrs. Genevieve G. realized he would be taking it back East to Boston when he left for school, she couldn’t bear to be without it – so she just had to come get her own!

Thanks again to Stanley and Genevieve! Enjoy your Minis, and keep us posted with your adventures!

We’ve also adopted out some brother-and-brother Minis, and neighbor-and-neighbor Minis…

Postcards From My Mini ‘Children’…

April 1, 2004 – One of the things I really enjoy about my “job” as MiniGuy is when I receive updates about the adventures folks are having with the Minis they have adopted from us, and the pics they often include.

After posting “MiniGuy’s Favorite Mini Memory…” (Feb. 26) ( Click Here to see the pic ), we received an email from Bill F., of Denver, Colorado, and the pic you see here.

The Mini he adopted from us is one that is in that picture – so that Mini will always have a special place in my heart, and we particularly enjoy hearing of Bill’s adventures with it.

Here’s the email he recently sent:

“Michael,
In regards to your “Favorite Mini Memory” posted on 2/26/04.

The little guy is doing fine and I have put 25k miles on him since he arrived in March 2002. Last summer, my dad and I drove the little man to Mini Meet West 2003 (in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), along with two other Minis driven by members of our Mini club, Minis Of The Rockies (M.O.T.R.). My dad and I picked up my two older brothers in Seattle and drove into Vancouver and had a great time at the Mini Meet. Many members of the Mini community were surprised that we covered as many miles in a Mini that we did with four people inside.

Isn’t the whole point of a Mini that – in addition to being one the best handling cars on Earth – that it can haul four people and their luggage?
-Bill”

Thanks for the update!

By the way, Bill’s Mini has the 998cc, and before he got it he was a little concerned that it might not be up to the task for the mountain roads around Denver – that maybe he should opt for a 1275cc instead. He later told us it’s worked out just fine for him!

When is a Mini Not A Mini? When it’s an Austin Se7en…

March 30, 2004 – Here’s a pic of a huge wall hanging in our MiniGuy showroom in Ventura. It’s a reproduction of an early Austin advertising poster touting the new “Austin Se7en.” The advert is from around 1959 or 1960.

It was only later that the car became known as the “Mini”…

The poster is a gift from Patrick R.; we’ve been good friends since we met years ago when he interviewed me for an article on MiniGuy for the newsletter of the Central Coast British Car Club (CCBCC).

Actually, I’ve had lots of visitors bring Mini stuff they’ve had laying around, just so it could be out on display for everyone to enjoy. Got something unique you’d like to have displayed in the MiniGuy showroom? Just drop us a note… If you have duplicates, the diecast Minis are particularly enjoyed by our young visitors. Send us a Mini club shirt, and we’ll hang that up too!

A Birthday Wish, for a MiniGuy in Training…

March 28, 2004 – The MiniGuy’s youngest son just turned 7 this week, but here’s a pic from about 5 years ago. Check out the choice of reading material, and the grin on his face. Earlier this week, while MiniGuy walked him to school, he said, “Daddy, I’ve decided that when I’m about 17, I want a blue one.”

So, naturally, the MiniGuy asks, “A blue what?”

His reply: “A Mini Cooper, of course!”

Happy Birthday, little guy… From your Mom, Dad, and your two older brothers. We love you, and we’re proud of you…

A Mini Goes Out, A Mini Comes In….

March 27, 2004 – Whew! It’s been a busy week here at the MiniGuy showroom in Ventura. Just as we loaded this really nice British Racing Green Cooper S that’s now on its way to its new home in Guilford, Connecticut, another transporter arrived to bring us this “Cooperized” beige Mini panel van from its former home near Sacramento. It’s now on the Here Now section of this site. There’s lots more fresh pics there, and more available by request…

Isetta? Nope, its a MiniSetta, or an IseMini?

March 29, 2004 – One of the first “Minis” the MiniGuy sold wasn’t really a Mini at all, but was an Isetta “bubble car” that someone had grafted an 850cc Mini engine and front subframe into the rear. The steering parts of the front subframe were locked in place, and a unique shifter arrangement allowed gear shifts from inside the Isetta’s two-seat cabin. The BMW Isetta, which featured a door that swung forward to open up the front of the car, was also built under license by other automakers. The Austin/Morris Mini was launched as a response to the Isetta and other “bubble cars” and “microcars” of the late ’50’s, including ones such as the “Vespa” (the car, not the scooter!), the “Messerschmitt” and a variety of others like them.

This Isetta was a total project when it arrived, and was sent that way to its new home in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re told it would pop “wheelies” in its day… Anyone seen it lately?

By the way, if you know of any Isetta or Messerschmitt cars, including projects, that might be for sale, we’d love to hear from you…

Need More Boot Space? How About Two More Boots?

March 26, 2004 – The MiniGuy paid a visit to good friend and fellow Mini nut Jan Harde today. Here’s his latest project, a trailer built from the boot areas of two Minis. (Translation for Yanks: “boot” is Brit-speak for what y’all call a “trunk”.) There’s an opening bootlid in the front, and another in the rear. Watch for updated pics as Jan’s project progresses…

Jan has now built four “to-die-for” Minis; the second was a Morris Mini panel van that we later helped him find a new home for: Click Here to see it (and all its goodies!)

Or, Click Here for more info and more pics on how it was built.

The panel van is now well-loved at its new home in Placerville, above Sacramento…

p.s. – Jan builds incredible Minis, but don’t bother asking him to build one for you. He does it strictly as a hobby, a labor of love, if you will…

Minis ‘n’ Mountains Go Together, Even Better if They’re the Rockies…

March 25, 2004 – This pic sent by David Dye of Colorado-based club “Minis of the Rockies” (MOTR) is from the club’s March outing last Sunday, a 150-mile, (three-hours-of-driving) romp through the mountains above the Denver/Boulder area. In the photo are just part of the dozen Minis – including 8 classics – that ran the route laid out by MOTR president Kenn Lively, a great guy and longtime Mini owner who drives his very nice dark blue Innocenti Mini all over the country to various Mini events, (ie: rather than trailering it). Kudos to Kenn, we say!

Two of the Minis shown, David’s British Racing Green & white ’64 Mk1 998cc Cooper , and the yellow ’71 Mk3 850 owned by Armando M., were adopted “sight unseen” from the MiniGuy herd, and both owners report they were very pleased with what arrived!

Armando wrote us when his Mini arrived in January 2003: “I finally got the Mini. I love it. I’ve been driving it now for two days and it’s a ton of fun. Thanks again for the cool Mini.”

David emailed us in September 2003 when his Mini arrived: “She arrived this morning all in one piece. The delivery was only $400, so that was a nice surprise. Please thank Tony for checking over the Mini for me, it was just as he described. [Editor’s note: Tony’s Foreign Car Service is the shop David retained to perform the independent, pre-purchase evaluation.] So I guess the only thing left is to get it registered here. That and you can put a SOLD icon on your web page! I’ve already been told that I would make a good burrito delivery guy. I don’t even know what that means, but it’s the first of many interesting conversations I’ll be having. This is going to be fun! Thanks for everything.”

In November, David emailed to say: “We took it to a wedding on Saturday and had a great time. On the bad side, winter is coming. Oh well.”

And in December, David wrote again: “In other news, I was able to drive the Mini in Boulder’s Parade of Lights. We got much more attention than the troop of Girl Scouts I was ‘assisting'”.

Here at MiniGuy, we really appreciate receiving the updates and pictures about the adventures our customers nationwide are having with their Minis. In recent years, we’ve sent another half-dozen-or-so Minis to satisfied owners in the Denver region, and we enjoy hearing from them too!

Anyway, back to the club run this past Sunday, MOTR member Michael P. reports there were no mechanical problems, and no mishaps on the spirited drive, which included spectacular vistas and “fun, twisty bits to run through.” The run began at the Krispy Kreme donut shop in Thornton, before heading west to Highway 36 and “Left Hand Canyon,” as it’s known by the locals, then through the mining town of Ward and up the “Peak-to-Peak Highway” to Nederland for lunch. Then, it was on to Highway 119 to Golden Gate Canyon Park and down to the town of Golden.

We hear there’s even a Kansas-based family that are MOTR members, and they trailered their Mini all the way out so they could participate in the Sunday drive in the mountains!

The first Mini meet I attended was hosted by MOTR in 1999, a great, well-run event where Mini clubs from across the country met on the classic Mini’s 40th anniversary for the (once-every-five-years) National Mini Meet. On other years, Mini clubs on each side of the country band together for their “Mini Meet West” and “Mini Meet East” events.

This year, 2004, will be the “East Meets West” national meet in Rockford, Illinois from June 30 to July 2. Rockford is about 90 miles northwest of Chicago. All classic Minis, “new” (BMW) MINIs, and Mini variants (such as the Moke, Riley Elf, Wolseley Hornet, Mini-based kit cars, Austin America, etc.) are invited to attend. There are also more Mini activities planned for June 28-29 at nearby Blackhawk Farms Raceway.

More in Our Series of ‘Big and Little’

March 24, 2004 – If you look below on this page, you’ll see we get a lot of pics of Little Minis, next to Big Things.

Portland, Oregon Mini owner Dan T. sent us this pic. Either someone is VERY skilled at fabricating smaller-scale-models of Mini Cooper look-alikes, or there’s a bit of PhotoShop magic involved. Hmmm…What do you think?

Export Dept. Opens at MiniGuy! Cars Wanted…

March 25, 2004 – Here’s a shot of yet another nice Mini leaving our showroom, and another car we’re exporting overseas. The 1979 Chevrolet El Camino is headed to its new home in New Zealand!

Our network of overseas Mini spotters are always asking us for American cars they can have sent over, as well as other rust-free cars or body shells such as the Triumph TR6, MGBGT, and others.

During the current dip in the currency exchange rates, we’re currently looking to buy U.S. cars from the following list, or other vintage Detroit Iron, particularly convertibles:

1960’s Ford Mustangs (running or not)

1950’s Ford F-100 pickups… (running or not)

Pontiac GTO

Chevrolet Impala convertible (running or not)

Street rods, Hi-Boys, and the like. (running or not)

If you are overseas, and looking for something special, please drop us an email or call with your wish list, and a sense of your budget range. We handle all the export and shipping arrangements.

And, as always, we’re looking to buy Minis of all types, from pristine to project. Steer us to a car we buy – or consign – and we’ll find an appropriate way to express our gratitude – whether it be in Mini parts, a discount on a Mini or just plain ol’ greenbacks…

Rare, Bare Mk2 Mini Shell is Available…

March 23, 2004 – At MiniGuy, we’re often offered some very rare things. We’ve just been offered this very nice Mk2 Mini body shell, which also comes with two good doors, a bootlid and a bonnet. It has NO RUST, and was sandblasted before being primered. Owner will sell it bare, or with the subframes, which are also sandblasted, freshly painted black and ready to fit.

Mk2 Minis were built from mid-1967 through 1969, and are differentiated from the Mk1’s by their larger, rectangular taillites, a slightly wider rear window, and a slightly larger grill that overlaps onto the front of the bonnet and doesn’t have the “whiskers” of the Mk1 model. The Mk2 doors still have the classic sliding windows, and the external hinges.

At one time, you could purchase a new replacement body shell for your rusty or damaged Mini, but those are no longer available for the Mk1 and Mk2-style Minis.

Interested? Please email or call for more info…

UPDATE: Click on This Link to see more details and more pics.

You Snooze, You Lose… Gone Already Too…

March 22, 2004 – Here’s another nice Mini that sold even before it made it to our Consignment pages! That’s why it’s always best to check our site first, then give us a call for the latest offerings…

This one sold to the first person we sent over to see it! That’s our goal when we are consigning your Mini – so you don’t have to deal with all the time-wasters, tire-kickers and picture-collectors. References gladly provided.

For more info on having MiniGuy find a new home for your Mini(s), just call us…

Here’s a Moke We Recently Sent (Sight Unseen) to Florida…

March 21, 2004 – When Mike and Wendi Bruce called us from Florida, he was looking for a Moke – but couldn’t spare the time to make the trip out to see our selection with his own eyes. After our “inch-by-inch” tour over the phone, we sent Mike dozens of digital pics, then connected him with a local mechanic to do a thorough mechanical evaluation on his behalf.

Not long after that, the transporter was at their door with the white Moke you see in the pic. That’s Mike with their dog Max, since Wendi had to work the camera…

Here’s the email I received from Mike and Wendi:

[…]
Hey Michael / MiniGuy,

Just wanted to let you know that we received our new Moke today from the transport company. It arrived a bit dirty but in spectacular condition. The seats look great, and that gunmetal color on the dash and grill is really nice. It represents better in person than it did in pictures – and Wendi and I are thoroughly pleased with the vehicle. Actually, pleased is an understatement, we are ecstatic!

We logged 50 miles today going to all our friends’ homes to whom we could not adequately explain this vehicle before it arrived, and in doing so gave out your name several times to curious motorists who just had to know what that little car is and where to get one. Should you receive an influx of Florida inquiries, you have us to blame – this car just attracts too much attention.

I have an appointment Monday with a reputable British mechanic and plan to get that oil leak (that you mentioned) fixed as well as talk about some motor upgrades and maintenance items. You were right about the paint, it is great overall and works well with the wheel and tire package – I think we’ll leave it alone for now.

I really wanted to write and convey our sincere thanks in helping us fulfill a dream we’ve had for 3 years. Owning a Moke is like being back in Australia on our honeymoon every weekend, and the car is every bit as fun as we remember – and maybe more with those 300 extra cc’s!

Your professionalism in this transaction made us very comfortable and we appreciate that as well as your patience. This will likely not be the last time we do business and whenever possible we will refer people to you to buy their dream toy car. Please feel free to use us as a reference and thank you again.

Sincerely,

Michael and Wendi Bruce
[…]

Emails and calls like that really make my day!

IMPORTANT: Please don’t tell them that all my efforts to make sure they get what they want, and to give them most accurate description of the car that I can – is all part of my DIABOLICAL PLAN to provide them with their NEXT THREE Minis! (Insert nefarious laugh here…)

Thanks Mike and Wendi! I look forward to updates about your adventures with the Moke. I’ve already had a number of folks tell me they met you and saw your Moke at the “Spring Thing” Mini gathering in Orlando.

M-tech Mike, and a Moke…

March 20, 2003 – With the warmer weather in California this week, it’s got me thinking about pulling out our family Moke, the one my kids won’t let me sell.

This pic is of Michael Waterjohns, of M-tech in the UK, who builds many of our custom, built-to-order Minis. His most famous one is his “Countryman Sport” woodie that made the cover of Mini Magazine. Others he’s built for our customers are on our “Built to Order” pages.

Click Here to go to that page.

When Mike called to say he would be coming out to attend Mini Meet West 2002 (hosted here in Southern California by MOALA, our local Mini club), we were only too glad to loan “M-tech Mike” our family’s personal Moke – this nice burgundy one – for the two weeks he was here with his good friend and fellow miniac, Jerry.

When our family later upgraded to a four-seat “Californian” model with a 1275cc and disc brakes, we sent this burgundy Moke out to Florida, where it’s consigned to my friend.

Click here to see the listing for it on our Consignment page:

It’s available now near St. Petersburg, Florida. Call or email if you’d like an appointment to see it.

M-tech Mike thoroughly enjoyed driving this Moke, and this shot is probably the only time he had the top up – and he went home with the sunburn to prove it. Mike and Jerry logged a lot of miles cruising the coast, and hitting all the tourist attractions, including a boat ride to Catalina Island where a large fleet of Mokes were available for rent in the ’60’s and ’70’s.

M-tech Mike had such a great time with this Australian Moke that he’s since acquired one of his own that he’s now restoring.

We’re very pleased to be the exclusive U.S. representative for M-tech, since Mike would much rather have a wrench in his hand than a phone or computer mouse! Please contact us with your wish list and a sense of your budget range, and Mike just might build you the Mini of your dreams. He’s not cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for – and references are gladly provided.

p.s. – If you get a chance to talk with M-tech Mike, please be sure to give him some friendly ribbing about how the MiniGuy had to teach him how to properly eat a Taco Bell burrito. Something about not applying too much “hydraulic pressure” to the contents from one end… And we’ve got the pics to prove it! Giggle…

Past GT5 Champ Minis to Race at Thunderhill March 20 & 21…

March 19, 2004 – For a Mini, the ultimate racing class is the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) GT5 class, and a “must-see” event this weekend is the running of all four past GT5 Champion Minis on the same track, at the same time.

The blue-and-yellow Mini pictured on the left is the former 1984 GT5 Champion Fortech Mini, now owned by Jon Becker, an SCCA competitor since 1972, mostly in C sedan and GT5-class Mini Coopers. Becker will be racing the car under his longtime number, 99.

Becker, the current president of Mini Owners of America – San Francisco (MOASF), also runs MiniPart, a Concord, Calif.-based Mini service/restoration shop that we hear great things about from many Bay Area folks who adopted Minis via MiniGuy.

Becker, in a phone interview with MiniGuy, said he expects his car will “probably be the slowest of the champ cars that will be there,” mostly because it’s not on a tube chassis, but still runs Mini subframes in the front and rear. Becker’s engine is a 1275cc bored 40 over, so it’s about 1320cc – and puts out 140 horsepower. Put in perspective, that’s basically twice what the factory-hot-rod “Cooper S” models put out!

Here’s a quote from Seven Enterprises’ website, where this pic is also pulled from: “The driver’s list reads like a Who’s Who of Club Racing: Doug Peterson, Joe Huffaker, Bill Cooper, Duane Davis, Travis Duder and current drivers John Becker and Ward Barbour have all had time behind the wheel of these famous cars. The four Championship Minis in this race will be the 1984 Champion Fortech Mini, driven by John Becker; 1986, 1989, 2003 Champion Fortech Mini, driven by Doug Peterson; 1993 Champion Comptech/Richard Kraus Mini, driven by Ward Barbour; and the Champion in 2000, 2001, and 2002, the Huffaker Mini, driven by Joe Huffaker.”

For more info, click on these links:

Seven Enterprises website, including more on the cars and drivers:
http://www.7ent.com/page.cfm?pageid=26

Thunderhill Raceway Park: www.thunderhill.com

SCCA Race Schedule: http://www.sfrscca.org/Calendar/Schedule/dblnat_040321.pdf

San Francisco Region SCCA: www.sfrscca.org

MOASF site: http://forum.moasf.com

Spectators are being admitted free to the race, and owners of classic Minis and the “new” (BMW) MINI are invited to circle the track after the Saturday a.m. GT5 race that starts at 10:45. Another Mini race will be Sunday afternoon.

What a great grouping of Minis, and what a rowdy race Mini maniacs will surely see…