Dec 9th, 2013
Given the launch of the new MINI and the recent pre-production shell that popped up on eBay, we’ve been digging into our archives a bit and thinking about how the modern MINI came about. Over the past ten years MotoringFile has written much about Mini, Rover and BMW in the 1990s but it’s such a good story it’s always worth a revisit. So with that in mind we wanted to go back and take look at the concepts from that time period that help guide us to the R50 which set the tone for all modern MINI’s to come.
The idea of a modern MINI had been floating around since the late 60’s. But the Mini’s appeal and subsequent sales success kept it in production for two decades longer than originally anticipated. However the various government backed companies that manufactured the Mini through the years were less than successful on the business side of things. In fact British Leyland, Rover, etc tried to kill the Mini more than once (first to avoid converting the engine to run on unleaded, then to avoid increasing safety requirements) but English public opinion was too negative. So when BMW bought Rover and the Mini there was quite a bit of hope for the future. continued →
Dec 7th, 2013
Frank Stephenson, exterior designer of the R50 and R53 MINI was interviewed earlier this year on the occasion of his latest creation debuting – the McLaren P1. Frank, a long time reader and friend of MF created the R50 during a time of intense turmoil and competition amongst BMW and Rover designers and engineers. The resulting car is often looked at as the most pure of not best looking modern MINI to date. Even if a lack of pedestrian safety standards certainly gave the design team much more freedom, it’s hard to argue the R50 isn’t design success.
It’s with that success that Frank moved onto Ferrari and Fiat where he oversaw everything from the F430 Scuderia to the Fiat 500 to the Maserati MC12. From there Frank moved north and to McLaren where he cleaned up an already in progress MC12 and designed the already mythical P1. So to say he has some credibility around MotoringFile and the general automotive world is an understatement. And that begs the question, what are his thoughts on the modern state of MINI design? Yahoo Automotive’s Jamie Kitman caught up with Frank earlier this year and talked specifically about that amongst other automotive topics. Keep in mind that this interview happened earlier this year and thus doesn’t include reactions to the new F56. However the full interview is well worth a read but the MINI specifics portions (which you can see after the break) are particularly interesting.
To say Frank dislikes the R5X MINI range would be an understatement. We can’t say we agree with him but it’s easy to understand his perspective. While he didn’t have to deal with the raft of new crash standards with his R50, he is clearly qualified to have an opinion.
Check it out after the break. continued →
Dec 3rd, 2013
Want an early look at MINI development? This prototype shell found on eBay gives us an interesting window into that time period where Rover still had some control over engineering and BMW was guiding the ship from afar.
Sep 24th, 2013
For so many years MotoringFile has focused on whats new and recently released. However with the price of 2002 MINIs now well below $10k there are great used MINI deals to be had. So great that I’ve recently found myself magnetically drawn to eBay looking for a MINI project car.
But that’s another story for another time. Instead we want to hear your stories. Who’s bought a used MINI? What was the experience like? What was it like to buy someone else’s creation and make it your own? continued →
Jun 1st, 2013
Do you own a ’02 – ’05 MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S or MINI Cooper Convertible in the US? Have you had to replace your power steering pump at your cost? Did you get the letter?
In the interest of customer satisfaction, we are extending the warranty coverage for the power-assist steering pump and associated cooling fan on your vehicle to 13 years/150,000 miles, whichever occurs first, starting from the date of first retail sale or the date the vehicle was first placed in service as a demonstrator or company vehicle, whichever is earlier.
If you have not had to replace yours, and if it should fail before your MINI is 13 years old or has 150K miles, the repair will be covered. If you have replaced yours out of warranty and at your own expense, you have a very good chance of getting reimbursed. I received an email from MINIUSA earlier this week and that was indicated.
Feb 19th, 2013
As MINI gears up to release the entirely new MINI Cooper and Cooper S in early autumn it’s time for a look back and where the model has come from. The idea, hatched by brilliant Formula One designer John Cooper, to fuel the agile small car with an extra hit of performance and a car for the road and track has lost none of its appeal. But the Cooper has never been about horsepower, as a comparison between the classic Mini and its two successors resoundingly proves. The key here is the basic principle of the creative use of space, combined with the inimitable go-kart feeling that runs like a thread through the three generations.
Whether your a classic, R50/53 or a R56 fan, it’s hard to argue with the incredible success of the little car from the UK or the experience behind the wheel.
May 4th, 2012
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What is Red Roof Radio? It’s when a few of us get together when we’re not suppose to be doing a podcast this week and just talk. Consider this a behind the scenes show without the normal production values or even sound quality you might get from WWR (although it’s not half bad). But what you get are unbiased opinions. Sort of like Black Roof Radio but something we can actually post. continued →