Dec 11th, 2013
No matter your late night viewing loyalties, there’s no denying that Jay Leno is the gear head to end all gear heads. His collection includes motorcycles, antique fire engines, tractors and more cars than one could count. While he calls it his garage, what Jay’s got is a private motor museum of his own making. That facility isn’t open to the public for tours (yet), but Jay shares his passion for all things that turn energy into noise and speed on his long-running web series, Jay Leno’s Garage.
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 →
Aug 6th, 2013
Modifying cars ca be a slippery slope. This is the biggest slope we’ve ever heard of. (Via Axis of Oversteer).
First it was just to be the caging, full containment seat, and removing of some metal in select areas. But this soon now included a race clutch/flywheel and a Quaife LSD, as the 2003 R-53 Mini Cooper only came with an open Differential. Nothing overly drastic as far as I was concerned, especially since I really never drove the car other than to the track and back, but when Greg said he thought he could build me a custom front sub frame that sounded pretty interesting as I was looking for better handling anyway. The Mini had just been eating up the Hoosiers, never lasting more than a couple days or so. continued →
Jul 7th, 2013
When we got an email from Jerry Bradbury, the team manager for the TWINI racing effort, we couldn’t quite believe what he was telling us. He and his team have put together an R53 race car to compete in the 25 hours of Thunderhill this coming December. While every MINI race car is something great, Team TWINI gets special credit for building a twin engine MINI. Not one, but two supercharged 1.6L JCW engines power this unique racing machine. For all of you who’ve always wanted an AWD, 400 hp MINI, this is one way to do it! Most entertaining of all, they got the idea from a twin engine Mini built back in the day by John Cooper himself.