Choosing the Right Color

Since everyone seems to be talking about it these days, frequent contributor Rob Carver has a few thoughts on MINI specifications and specifically choosing the right color:

On the occaision of the color choice for your new MINI, let me tell you a story about how that decision can resonate over the years.

My oldest son, Sean, was the catalyst to my new MINI adventures. Back in 2001, he’d started thinking about the new MINI, without telling me anything so he could make up his mind without the old man throwing in my 2-cents. He knew I’d prolly be extra positive, but he wanted to do a little research on his own. He knows I’m a Mini guy from way back, but I had made a conscious decision to avoid pushing the boys into cars, especially old ones, as I had spent a considerable amount of time and money over the years wrenching on ’em. They had the benefit of the countless car mags, shows, and conventions to judge whether they wanted to be a gear-head, so they were in no way uninformed.

Sean had never evinced any interest in cars in general, tho he could spot a ’65 Mustang from 300 yards, could tell a true GTO from a Pontiac, and knew that real English cars always dripped something on the driveway. At that time, I had 3 Minis and a Honda S600 in the garage, but he had never seen all the various Minis I had owned before he was born, and most of them had never been photographed.

My first Mini back in Arizona was a literal basket-case, which required a complete rebuild, from the ground up and stem to stern. A local shop put her back into great shape, with a fairly modded motor from a crashed MG1100. This version of the venerable ‘A’ series had the longest stroke of any of ’em, and plenty of low-down torque, which I really wanted, but didn’t rev as far up as most other ‘A’ motors, which were very sensitive to high piston speeds, so I lost some on the top end. This Mini was my start down the long road as a shadetree-er, bringing with it plenty of laughs, and not few tears.

Most of the latter came when, only a few hours back from the paint shop and FINALLY all ready, I lost a brake line on the way to a hockey game that evening and wrote ‘er off against the rear passenger side of a Ford station wagon when I couldn’t stop for a red light, and the other guy couldn’t manouver at all. It was just absolutely crushing. I still hate to talk about it, even. Sniff. At least I salvaged what I could, and parts of her live on today.

Anyhoo, that sunny afternoon I had taken a picture of her in the driveway at home in all her glory. The color I had chosen was one of the hardest decisions of my young life, as I wanted something no other Mini would have, something different, but subtle. Not hot orange, a popular color back then, or a factory two-tone like most others. I made the choice not to be red with a white top, as I felt it was somewhat sacrosanct as the Factory Racing Colours, and I wanted something different than the faded red & black she came in. I had recently gone to a hot rod show, and a chopped, channelled, and tubbed ’48 Ford Businessman’s Coupe had caught my eye – it was like a stealth car before that was popular – it was a dark, metallic silver, and looked like Satan’s Ride outta Hell. The ’48 had curves somewhat like a Minis, and the color on this one showed off all the highlites without being too bright or flashy. Oh, yeah, I thought, this is it. Until it hit that effin’ Ford.

Now, that one photo was all I had of her, and it eventually became buried amongst various papers and such during one of our moves over the years, and I never had a chance to show the boys that shot.

Here’s the Twilight Zone part: fast forward to 2002, and Sean is making up his mind about the color of the ‘S’ – He was going to be the principle driver, so we gave ‘im the honor, and damned if he doesn’t pick…you guessed it – ALL DARK SILVER!!! You could’ve knocked me over with a feather when he showed me on the MINIUSA site. Not only was I pleased, I KNEW he had really made up his mind about everthing to do with this car, and had much the same thoughts as I had all those years ago. Amazing! Cassandra now motors on with Sean at the wheel, her color a little reminder of our shared heritage. Jeez, I love that kid.

Rob Carver