(First posted on MotoringFile 12/7/03)

It's really surprising what can fit in a MINI. It's also surprising what one can fit on a MINI. With that in mind here is a quick how-to on fitting the ultimate Christmas accessory into your MINI:

First you'll probably want to limit the size of the tree to something under seven feet (seven foot six inches with the optional aero kit spoiler). Secondly you need several pieces of rope (about five feet in length) and a large, somewhat disposable sheet. Finally… the perfect tree.

Once you get the tree cut (or picked out if you're buying off a lot) you'll need to make sure to have it bailed in plastic. This isn't necessary but it's very helpful. Now spread out your sheet (folding once) over the entire roof. Once you're happy with the position of the sheet grab the tree and lay it on the roof and position appropriately with the lower part of the trunk towards the front of the MINI.

Now make sure your windows are down and your hatch is open. Take your rope and string it through the near the front of the tree – where the trunk should be. Then take that rope and run it through the windows and tie it onto the plastic door supports and both sides. This will stabilize the front of the tree.

Then run another rope through the center of the tree and again down through the window. This time tie the ends to the grab handles in the rear seats on both sides. This should hold the main part of the tree quite well.

The last step might not be needed if your tree isn't too large. Take another rope and run it through the back end of the tree near the hatch. Tie both ends to each side of the grab handles in the rear seats or if the seats are down to the metal anchor points where the seats clasp into when in the up position. Your tree should be secure and ready to go!

If done properly you shouldn't have to worry about the tree scratching your roof. However if you're really worried you may want to opt for a white pine or something along those lines with longer, softer needles.

The final step is simply driving cautiously and avoiding (possibly for the first time) any twisties!