The MotoringFile Spotlight is finally back. This time we focus on a first time MINI owner, Marvin Price:

Well I took the plunge. I’m the proud owner of a brand new 2005 MCS JCW. (I have no wife and kids, so I could get away with the JCW package!).

Ya know, I’ve wanted a Mini for some time now. I knew I liked the cars. I knew I’d enjoy driving one, but what I didn’t realize was just how much I’d enjoy it.

I’m a full time Macintosh consultant and part time photographer working in the Los Angeles, Hollywood area. I drive the streets of Los Angeles daily. I previously drove a BMW Z3 which I loved, but after nearly 10 years, it was getting a bit long in the tooth, harder to maintain, and much of the joy was no longer present. I began researching a new car.

It turned out that all of my requirements for a vehicle were met by the Mini. So I bid my reliable old Z3 farewell, and stepped into the Mini. My perception of automobiles has now been changed forever. Let me explain.

Los Angeles is a malevolent maze of horrible roads, some say the worst in the nation. It’s an insurmountable grid designed in hell. The concept of rush hour is made moot by the fact that it is always rush hour. Bumper to bumper traffic, morons in SUVs, red lights, horns, mindless pedestrians, countless busses, non-stop road construction, clogged freeways, and no left turn signs, are only a smattering of the obstacles commuters deal with on a day to day basis. Controlling road rage leaves one with a level of stress probably comparable to battle fatigue in some cases. And what has the esteemed new Mayor of Los Angeles offered us as a solution? More traffic cops.

Consider driving in Los Angeles and you know that it is not of minor consequence when I report that the Mini Cooper has somehow made this all fun again! This car is a British Racing Green, fire breathing, hyper agile, urban Euro-ninja. It is definitely quicker than my Z3 2.8 was. After a week of driving it, I can honestly say this car was built for Los Angeles. It traverses the irrationality of our infrastructure as easily as platitudes roll off the tongue of the new mayor.

I can’t wait to get back out there now! The car is highly responsive and that can make a difference of 20 minutes to an hour when I make a split second decision to take a side street rather than a major boulevard.

Driving isn’t the only difficult part of commuting in Los Angeles. They’ve essentially created a city in which you cannot go anywhere without lugging your automobile with you, and THEN they dare you to park it. Leave it anywhere for just a minute too long, and a member of the LA Troll army will pounce and slap you with a fine for anywhere between $40 and $80. It’s so bad that I consider parking tickets just part of the cost of doing business in Los Angeles and find ways to charge back for them. The Mini makes parking easier as well though. It fits nicely into small places and still leaves room for gargantuan SUV doors to swing open without necessarily leaving a dent.

And the milage! A tank of gas lasts much, much longer! The Z3 was going through $3.30/gallon gasoline like there was no tomorrow. The Mini holds more gas, and it burns it much more slowly.

In short, I am blown away.

I now completely understand the obsession.

Marvin L. Price