Since I’m right in the middle of the agonizing wait myself, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the ordering and production process and give you a taste of what to expect when ordering your MINI (if you haven’t already).
Note: this article is generally US-specific. If anyone wants to contribute a similar article that is specific to another region, feel free to send it in.
The first step in the process is to decide on a spec and order your MINI. It would be my suggestion to research this step thoroughly if you’re relatively new to the MINI. Learn the ins and outs of the different options. Look at “in the flesh photos” when deciding on a color. Finally, talk to current owners about what they like and what they’d do differently on their next MINI. While the MINI is about choice, you still have to choose wisely.
It’s worth noting that dealers around the country vary widely in terms of wait time for ordering – from 2 to 12 months. Generally those in the midwest and eastern parts of the US have much shorter waiting times than those in the western US. In fact several dealers (including Patrick MINI which helps sponsor this site) specialize is selling MINIs out of state. If you want your MINI sooner rather than later (without mark-up) and you’re in the western part of the US, an out-of-state dealer may be worth looking into.
Upon ordering your car through a dealership, your wait time for a production date can vary anywhere from 10 days to 10 months. On the MCS I recently ordered, production started only seven days after the order. Some have even seen a faster turnaround. However, the wait is typically a bit longer and is dependent on your dealer’s production allocation and where your order fits in.
Once production of your car begins, you’ll become very familiar with the MINI status code system that identifies where your car is in the production process. Here’s a quick rundown of the more common codes:
- 37 Order is at MINIUSA (On Order)
- 87 Production Week Assigned
- 97 Order Sent to Factory
- 111 Order Accepted at Factory
- 112 Order Scheduled for Production
- 150 Production Started (aka – Scheduled for Production)
- 151 Body Shop
- 152 Paint Shop
- 153 Assembly
- 155 Production Completed
- 160 Released to Distribution
- 182 Released to Carrier (aka Awaiting Transportation)
- 190 Awaiting Transport
- 193 Arrived at Port of Exit (Received at Terminal)
- 194 Selected for Shipment (Loaded on Vessel)
- 195 Shipped from Port of Exit (En Route)
- 196 Shipment Arrival (Discharged)
My car breezed through production, for the most part. The longest it spent in any one place was the paint shop, where it lingered for 3-4 days. As I’ve found, long periods in the paint shop are not unusual, especially for cars with contrasting roofs. In those situations, the process actually takes an extra day due to all the hands-on work in prepping the roofs for painting.
When a MINI is finished with production, it is then “released to transport” (where my car currently sits). At this point you’ll want to switch your tracking attention to the Wallenius Wilhelmsen shipping site. To track your MINI, simply enter its VIN into the shipping tracker found at the Wallenius website (click “Auto cargo”).
My MINI took a day to get down to the docks at Southhampton and was initially scheduled for the ship departing the next day. However, due to some unfortunate timing, it was bumped off that voyage and rescheduled for a ship that was arriving 8 days later. Of course all of this is really dependent on the shipping schedule, which is downloadable on the Wallenius Wilhelmsen website here.
But the fun doesn’t stop once the ship leaves the Southampton docks. You can actually track its progression across the ocean with the help of a few websites. Check out MINI2’s shipping and order tracking FAQ for that info.
After the voyage, your car will end up in the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC) closest to your dealer. There are three in the US for MINIs, Port Hueneme in California and the Northeast Auto Marine Terminal in New Jersey and Charleston, South Carolina. At the VPC, the cars are processed and inspected one last time before being loaded on the trucks for the final leg of their journey. You can get an inside look at a VPC by checking out Dave Bunting’s excellent photo essay of this last stop.
Once out of the VPC, MINIs (and BMWs) are transported via enclosed trucks to their final destination. Obviously the transit time from the VPC to your local dealer can vary quite a bit depending on your location.
So there you have it. It’s a process that can be both exciting and agonizing at the same time. However, in the end, there’s simply nothing like driving away in the MINI you’ve dreamt up and specced yourself.