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I’m not going to bury the lead here. After nearly nine years of enthusiastic ownership, the time has come to sell my 2006 MINI Cooper S. The journey that brought me here, and what it means going forward is something I wanted to share with MotoringFile readers, as I’m sure other MINI enthusiasts have wrestled with this difficult decision as well.

As a motoring enthusiast, it’s in my nature to form a relationship with the machines in my care. Going all the way back to my first car, a 1987 Honda Prelude 2.0 SI, the bond was deep. I knew every inch of that car — every nut an bolt — and not just because I did all my own maintenance and repair. I knew the car because I cared to. I decided to. That enthusiasm also took me online, where I found a community of fellow Prelude enthusiasts on a message board on this relatively new thing called the Internet.

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Fast-forward to 2004. My affection for british motors had been well-cultivated since childhood, so I was following the new MINI Cooper with great interest. That interest took me online again, where naturally I found MotoringFile. Reading the news and participating in discussions here only fueled my enthusiasm for the car. In 2006, I was finally able to pull the trigger on a brand new MINI Cooper S of my own. It was just before the R53/R56 generational shift and time was running out. I had been one of those vocal R56 doubters in the MF comment section lamenting everything from the interior changes to the on-demand oil and water pump in the Prince engine. I was so hell bent on having my R53 my way that I pulled the trigger on the car before I was truly quite able to pay for it. Such is love, no?

My 2006 MCS was the first new car I’d ever bought, and I’d ordered it from the factory. The car had lived up to all the things I’d hoped a new MINI could be. It was fast, formidable in the turns and I was absolutely in love with the Dark Silver on Pure Silver paint scheme. At the time, I even had an hour-each-way freeway commute between Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Having a great excuse to drive the wheels off the car everyday was pretty heavenly. Here’s the spec:

  • 2006 R53 Cooper S (July ’06 build)
  • 94,500 miles
  • 6-speed manual
  • Dark Silver body with Pure Silver roof/mirrors and custom stripes from Todd Pearson
  • LSD
  • Sport Package
  • Cold Weather Package
  • Premium Package
  • DSC
  • Space Cloth seats
  • Anthracite interior package (but standard light gray head liner)
  • Chrome line interior package
  • Euro parcel shelf
  • John Cooper Works leather down tubes with red stitching
  • Xenon lights w/washers
  • Fog lights
  • 15% supercharger pulley (Thanks Chad!)
  • M7 front strut tower reinforcement plates
  • M7 intake oil catch can (Thank Chad!)
  • K&N drop-in filter (stock air box)

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By 2010, I was part of the MotoringFile staff — a detail that is no less surreal in retrospect, even after years of writing for the site. I’m still just happy to be here. Getting involved here at MF only further deepened my enthusiasm for MINI and the community that had grown up around the car. Guest hosting on White Roof Radio was equally fun, especially after listening to the show since about episode five. Attending events like MINIs on the Dragon and AMVIV was just icing on the cake. Connecting with people in the MINI community in person and attending MINI press events gave me a point of view on the brand that only deepened my affection for it.

So what changed? Well I can definitely say that the nature of my enthusiasm for the MINI brand, and even my love for my R53, hasn’t shifted much. My relationship to the car (and with it, the brand) has changed only in as much as all the other things in my life have evolved in such significant ways. When I bought my R53, I was fresh out of school, just starting my design career. Since that Autumn when I took delivery of my car, I got married. I’ve lived in two other states. I’ve even done design work in a handful of different industries.

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It’s really two things that have brought me here to this point of selling my MINI: moving to Chicago, and motorcycles. The first, that move to the Windy City, is the biggest contributing factor. Chicago is not a good driving city. It’s a terrible driving city, truth be told. Not just from a traffic standpoint, but a significant lack of fun roads. Sure, there are a few decent roads, but for any real motoring fun, you’re looking at several hours of driving to any decent stretch of twisty highway or back road. Besides routes, it’s expensive to own a vehicle here. From fees to parking, there are definite economic incentives to own as few vehicles as possible. Add to that the easy access to a usable mass transit system, one need not even own a car living here if they didn’t want to. The result is that since moving to the Chicago area in 2012, my MINI was getting driven monthly at best.


Part of that interval had to do with other interests. While the nature of my MINI enthusiasm hasn’t changed, perhaps the intensity and urgency has. In 2007 I got hooked on a motoring drug that perhaps only fellow addicts can understand: motorcycles. Starting with scooters, two-wheeled vehicles all but took over my life. This led to side projects like ScooterFile, and eventually to custom builds and moto blogging via Salzmoto. At a more practical level though, a garage full of motorcycles meant that if I had a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to spend on the road, I’d rather do it on my vintage Honda CB450 or my Triumph Bonneville (above) than my MINI. For those of you who ride, you know it’s not a fair fight.

After a couple years of this inequity, it’s just time, even though I’d really rather just keep my MINI forever. Owning a car like a MINI is never a fully practical endeavor, but there comes a point where the lack of usage has to finally factor in. Truth be told, it isn’t the ongoing expense or hassle of an unused car that’s really the problem. I feel like I owe the car better. I owe this car better. I enjoy it enough to want to see it go to a good home — somewhere where someone will actually drive it and make good use of all the life this MINI has left in it. I’d rather it wear out in someone else’s hand than rot.

So with that, my MCS has been listed for sale. As of my writing this, it looks like there’s a buyer lined up. Here’s hoping he and his wife enjoy it as much as I have.

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Now this probably leads to one question in particular. Will I still be involved here at MotoringFile? Of course! You’ll even still hear me occasionally over on White Roof Radio. I’m not done with MINI, I’m simply letting this one go for now. I’m just as excited as Gabe is for our F56 long-term evaluation car to arrive. When will my next personal MINI come along? Well that depends entirely on whether or not MINI puts the CitySurfer on sale. If that falls through, it’ll all depend on when I actually need a second vehicle again. Things going as they are, I imagine that’ll be a while. Yet next time I go car shopping, I’ll be running through the MINI Configurator first. That I can guarantee you. I really like what we’re hearing about the next Clubman, for example.

How about you? Who else has struggled to let go of their MINI? With the R53 in particular on its way as a modern classic, who’s still planning to keep theirs forever. Tell us about it in the comments.