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Archive for March 2004

AutoWeek Long-Term Test Update

MotoringFile Sections: Uncategorized Mar 31st, 2004 9 Comments

In the third-quarter update of AutoWeek's long-term test of the MCS, Carrie Roca writes:

It doesn’t matter what kind of day we may have had, we get assigned to drive the Mini Cooper S and all of life's little annoyances just melt away. It keeps us young and it makes us feel good about ourselves. What more can you ask for in a soul mate?

I think they like it. You can read the rest here.

Black on Black on the Pac

MotoringFile Sections: Uncategorized Mar 31st, 2004 1 Comment

Contributed by Jerry Bradbury

Today brought a winter storm down on Northern California from the Gulf of Alaska: low skies, steady rain and temperatures in the 50's. It's not really unpleasant and it does make the hills go green. I had just dropped Jake, my youngest, full of turkey and stuffing, at his dorm at UCSC and was heading back north out of Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway, California Highway 1. The rain was moderate but steady, the clouds and fog all but obscured the oily green rollers until they creamed on the beaches below and the light was pearly and soft. Coming down a hill I saw a car pull out of the beach parking lot ahead of me and head north up the other slope. “Joe and Minnie Sixpack, heading home after a brisk wet walk on the beach,” I thought. Even though the grade rose, the dotted line was on our side and Sad Arthur was turning 4000 rpm in 6th gear. No trouble to just scoot around them. But I didn't seem to be closing as fast as I should. In fact, Joe and Minnie had accelerated to my speed and were pulling away a little. “Hmmmm,” thought I, “must be a QUICK CAR.” And I put the pedal down to overtake.

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The MINI Cabrio In Person

MotoringFile Sections: Uncategorized Mar 30th, 2004 30 Comments

Greetings from the UK!

<

p>While waiting for a friend who works for MINI in Oxford to come and pick us up for a quick run to a country pub – something quite unexpected showed up. In fact it was the car just ahead of him. The Cooper Cabrio was being driven by an employee doing a long term test. It had over 1000 miles on it and was missing some of it's interior bits (for the final engineering process most likely) but otherwise in final production trim. The person doing the testing was simply on his way home probably to put it in his garage for the night.

Regardless he was more than happy to let me not only take photos but to crawl inside and really experience it first hand.

<

p>One of the most impressive things I think people will find is that with the A-pilars are so far out ahead (as on all MINIs) on the car that you really get the feel that you are in an open top car. With cars like the 3 series convertible the top of the A-pilar is over your head giving you the forward view of a standard fixed roof car. With the MINI Cabrio you get a much more “open air feeling”. Really quite something different.

Here are some other things I noticed or found out about the Cabrio:

  • The Hot Orange is quite nice in person. It looks a little more subdued and less metallic in a mostly cloudy day.
  • The other thing you notice in person is the roof-line is noticeably lower than the fixed roof car.
  • In an effort to give the Cabrio more structural integrity the door frames are approximately 3 millimeters thick while the standard cars makes due 1 millimeter steel.
  • The MINI uses 2 pulse welding when it comes to the Cabrio. This is also in an effort to battle the obvious effects of cutting the roof off of a car.

I've also managed to see an all black Cooper Cabrio on the A34 heading south from Oxford. And to give you a sneak peak at my upcoming Oxford Plant tour story I actually saw about every color cabrio in various states of production. Several including a Chili Red Cooper completely finished. Let me be the first to say the red interior looks amazing.

Here are the photos of our chance meeting lastnight: Photo Gallery.

A Day at the Racetrack

MotoringFile Sections: Uncategorized Mar 29th, 2004 4 Comments

Contributed by Jerry Bradbury

Some people wonder why I'd plunk down big bucks to spend a day on the race track with my MINI after just cruising across half the country. Let me see if I can explain this. It's not (as some think) that all MINI Cooper S drivers are speed crazed demons (although I will admit there are some). For me, it's about safety and limits. Even after putting the first 2200 miles on Sad Arthur coming across I-80 from Chicago, I still didn't know what his limits and strengths were, or what would happen should I have to go all in (clutch and brake pedals to the floor) to avoid some brainless fellow driver, or run into a patch of black ice, or suddenly come upon a nail studded board in my lane, or overcook a decreasing radius turn on a mountain road. The time to learn how to deal with these and other emergencies is before they happen so you can get them into muscle memory and not have to think about what to do in the moment. That's why all my boys got Car Control Clinics from Bob Bondurant and Skip Barber when they got their driver licenses. They learned the important things that driver training in school just can't provide. It's cheap insurance and really adds to your peace of mind when your teenager is behind the wheel. It's no secret that the highest driver mortality rate belongs to the teenagers. Good driver training at least gives them a fighting chance. I highly recommend it to all parents for their teen drivers.

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A Little Reflection on Regaining Oneself

MotoringFile Sections: Uncategorized Mar 28th, 2004 7 Comments

Down the Rabbit Hole Redux: Alice, and I, drive my MINI again by Rob Carver

The White Rabbit I followed once so long ago wasn't white – it was Red with a Black top, a Mk1 1275s at the Bisbee Hillclimb, driven with brio and although not the fastest by just one placing, it was decidedly the most influential on me. As I got nearer to actually driving, I saw that picture in my mind of the Red & Black Mini clearly, as bright as the first time I saw it. Owning a number of Minis over the years, I became most comfortable in a Mini than any other. Driving can be an intensely personal experience if you are in the right kind of car, have the right mindset and are so inclined. Some of us are less so than others, but MINI drivers are generally on the More as opposed to Less side, and that goes for just about anything. I'm no exception – I've strong opinions on most everything, especially Minis and MINIs. I've heard Marque identification described as a kind of Cartesian-rationalist purism, leaving no room for other, possibly lesser vehicles – this is most obvious in the Porsche – Porcupine type of comparison, (something I hope MINI owners never aspire to!). Every so often, something happens that re-defines our relationship with our MINI – that makes you add one more plus – or minus – to the whole equation.

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MINI on Tuner Transformation

MotoringFile Sections: Uncategorized Mar 27th, 2004 35 Comments

This Tuesday, Speed Channel's Tuner Transformation will be featuring a MINI for the first time. Here's the inside story from the owner himself:

Well, as it turns out I was selected to participate in that new TV show “Tuner Transformation.” The format is pretty simple. They know what I use the car for, they take that into account, however they don't tell me what mods they're going to be doing until they reveal the car to me at the end. This way they get my reaction etc. So I could end up with a purple car with pink polkadots but I could also end up with a great autocross/performance car. Think of it like one of those home decorating shows like “While you were out” except for cars.

The episode will be airing on Speed channel Tuesday March 30th at 7PM EST. I've got the car back but cannot post pictures etc of the car or discuss it. Watch the episode!

Cheers,
Paul


Trip to England

MotoringFile Sections: MF Feature Mar 25th, 2004 9 Comments

As some of you may know I'm going to be spending some time in the UK over the next week and a half. I'll be coming back with stories on the plant tour, MINI-Rentals, what it's like to drive a MINI in it's home country, and maybe even a personal account of a MINI Cabrio.

During that time my response to email will be slow to non-existent. In fact it might take me a while to respond once I get back as well. Getting 20-40 emails a day will add up quickly! So please be patient with any correspondence.

Matt Gifford will be taking over the day to day reins of MotoringFile so any issues that might pop up will be in his capable hands. In fact as some of you may know Matt is responsible for building the code for the back-end and some of the front end of MotoringFile, so he knows the site as well as anybody. Oh and he's the proud owner of a BRG/Black Cooper.

Along with the normal MINI news during this time we'll also be featuring some commentary by a new contributor Jerry Bradbury as well as longtime contributor Rob Carver. They've got some great pieces so I hope you enjoy the change a pace!

And as always I recommend exploring the archives. There's a wealth of information from the past 14 months that people new and old to the MINI world might find interesting.

Cheers,
Gabe

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