Seven years ago on March 22nd 2002 the first MINI dealers in the US opened their doors. While this may be US specific I think the enthusiasm of that time translates well to any market and any language. Personally I vividly remember showing up at the local MINI dealer that morning in an effort to get to know the Cooper and Cooper S demos fresh off the truck. Naturally I was totally floored by how the car felt and I immediately put the wheels in motion for my initial MINI purchase. You can get a sense of that excitement in my first short review of the car as posted on March 22nd 2002 on the web:

>First off I was surprised at how capable and flat out fun the base Cooper is. It’s almost fun enough to forget about the S entirely. Especially considering the short lead-time (ordering an S will set the purchase back to June). The Cooper’s main weakness in my mind is the 45-70 acceleration. You must be “involved” with the transmission to get to 70 quickly. But that’s part of the fun as well. The Cooper I drove had the 16s and was definitely more harsh than my BMW 325ci with 17s. But keep in mind it wasn’t rough. It also didn’t have the sport seats causing me to have to literally hang onto the wheel while cornering.

>The S was quite a nice package. However it didn’t “feel” as quick as I had expected off the line. Because of the smoothness of the power it felt a bit laid back where I would have expected otherwise. The immediacy steering in both cars put my 325ci to shame however. When I got back into it after both drives it felt too isolated and numb in comparison. Overall I was really surprised at the lack of difference between the MC and the MCS below 30 mph.

>The thing that hits you when you see the MINI for the first time on the road is it’s presence. It’s such a strange thing for such a small car to have so much presence.

We want to hear your stories of the those first MINI drives and sightings. Were you on hand for the launch seven years ago? If not what was your first MINI experience like? Sound off below but please – no bashing.