It’s taken a few months, but Road & Track has finally put Peter Egan’s excellent article about picking up his new MCS online. For those that aren’t familiar with Mr. Egan, his columns in R&T are generally regarded as some of the finest you’ll find in any automotive publication. Here’s an excerpt:

“Good news, Peter! Your Mini Cooper S is in, and it’s ready to go,” said the British-inflected voice over the telephone last Friday morning.

…”Great!” I said. “I’ll be over this afternoon to pick it up.”

…This distance between the dealership and our house was probably one of the reasons it took me so long to make up my mind about buying the car, even though I’d spent two years poring over Mini brochures. With the service department 90 miles away, you can pretty much cross a full day off your calendar if the “check engine” light comes on. Maybe two days.

Still my five or six Mini-owning friends scattered around the country had reported almost zero problems with their cars, so I decided to go out on a limb and get the car I really wanted, rather than one that was merely easy to buy and service.

…The Cooper S was so much fun to drive, I wondered why I’d waited so long to buy one. It was comfortable, dead flat in corners, quick as a go kart in steering and it accelerated in silken bursts of energy. The short-throw shifter clicked effortlessly from one gear to the next, and the seat, pedals and steering wheel were perfectly placed for me.

And the car had real charm and personality. I liked looking at it and, obviously, so did other people. When you parked at a gas station, other motorists getting out of their cars positively beamed at you and went out of their way to say hello, like long lost friends. Frank Stephenson had done a good job of styling the thing – he captured the cheerful friendliness of the original Mini, but also its underlying seriousness as a performance car.

As I sat at my window table, sipping the Manhattan and looking out at the car in the parking lot, it occurred to me that the Mini covered so many bases and filled so much of the performance/aesthetic territory I carry around in my own psyche, that my penchant for collecting and restoring hopelessly shot old British cars from the ’50s and ’60s might be endangered. What if the new Mini was the only car I really needed?

A terrible thought, yet strangely liberating. We’d see. Addictions die hard.

[ Bringing home the Mini ]