Beyond the MINI plant in Oxford there aren’t many places for enthusiasts to go and pay homage to the brand. For BMW owners there’s BMW Welt, the BMW Museum, the ‘Ring and a number of manufacturing facilities around the world. For the MINI, there’s really only one public place beyond the plant that deserves mention, Park Lane MINI. The central London dealer is claimed to be the center-piece of all BMW owned MINI dealers and boasts two floors of everything MINI.
Recently I had a few hours to kill in London and decided to finally check off Park Lane from my list of MINI related to-dos.
Billed as the largest MINI dealer in the world, Park Lane is located in London on (you guessed it) Park Lane just east of Hyde Park. The neighborhood is posh and the dealer is surrounded by a company owned BMW car and motorcycle showroom on each side. Yet upon entering the store you’re struck by how small it all seems. Despite this I was greeted with an impressive display; two Clubman, a fully specced out JCW MINI (with all the dealer installed accessories – not the factory kit) and a new MCS with an updated version of an old “flip” color that MINI offered on the R50/R53 years ago – something we’ll have more on this new color option later in the week.
Park Lane MINI also had some of the best MINI bling I’ve ever seen. One of the more memorable was a display of all the R53/R52 JCW components attached the wall behind a new R52 JCW convertible.
Yet as a whole, I have to admit there was a bit of a let down when I realized how big the dealer really was. There weren’t more than eight cars on both levels and the accessories displayed were abysmal compared to the main MINI dealer in Munich for instance. Park Lane is certainly not the place to go for someone from North America searching for hard to find UK or European specific accessories.
While the staff was courteous there was little question they were there to close sales and didn’t really have the time or an inclination to chat about the products they were selling if you weren’t interested buying. In fact while taking pictures of the new flip-color MCS (I believe it’s officially called “Dream-line”) they had on display, I was sternly (albeit politely) told that no photography was allowed in the dealership and to please put my camera away.
Based on my experience and the relatively small space and lack of products or accessories on display, I’d not recommend going out of your way to make the trip to Park Lane. If you’re ever in the Hyde Park area with some time to kill it’s probably worth a stop. However as a car enthusiast, your time would be much better spent at a number of other London based attractions.