There is nothing glorious about doing damage to your car. And there’s definitely no glory in doing it to someone else’s. Cue the crunching sound of ice breaking plastic. That was the sound I heard as I was parallel parking a few days after particular bad 24″ Chicago blizzard this winter. As anyone will tell you navigating the unplowed side streets of Chicago are bad enough. But trying to parallel park in them is even worse. Alas that was my mission and unfortunately I missed accounting for a rather large glacial like piece of icy snow. I rolled over it with my back and onto it with my right plastic side skirt. And that side skirt did exactly what its engineers have designed it to do. It broke.

Ah, but the plastic skirt itself didn’t break. It bent. What broke was three of the 20 cent fasteners that held the side skirt in place.

For years I’ve heard people complain about the black plastic cladding on modern MINIs. However we’ve always held that it’s actually a brilliant bit of design coming all the way from the Frank Stephenson days. For starters it emphasizes the wheel/tire within the overall ratio of the car making it look more sporty and aggressive. This is particularly helpful given the modern MINI’s high belt-line. It’s why MINIs with painted sills and plastic fenders look a bit dowdy unless they’re sporting 18″ wheels. Or as we’ve called the look, Tom Selleck without a mustache.

Secondly it visually increases the wheels at the corner look that is so important within MINI’s design language.

Finally it allows for bumps an bruises often associated with the type of city driving most MINIs do, to be easily and cheaply fixed.

To that point the total bill for the parts associated with our little excursion? 63 cents.