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A Mini Adventure, part 4


inconsistant
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Time for another car to be collected. No poo count, no dodgy crumpet based breakfast, no early morning train from London to odd places, or Wigan, just my usual evening commute but heading a little further out of London, to the other side of the M25. 
Hopefully it’ll still be light/dry/warm by the time I get there.
Have a couple of photos to add some visual excitement…

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  • inconsistant changed the title to Live Evening Collection: I mought a Bini
43 minutes ago, SiC said:

Not another one! I think this forum should be soon called BiniShite.

Ha! The AS Bini thread was all the encouragement I needed. Then it was just a matter of finding one that fitted the bill. Was really looking for a Cooper but this Cooper S came up and I couldn't say no. More on the buyage soon but in the meantime the specs according to Bimmerworks are:

Black Metallic & black leather sports seats, Multi function leather steering wheel, limited slip diff, park distance control, cruise control, xenon lights, air con, on board computer, chili pack, lights pack(?), sports suspension, Stability & traction control and a bunch of other stuff that sounds like they would probably be standard, like rev counter, fog lights f&r, radio boost, Karmon Hardon speakers. It's a really nice little thing, enjoyed the drive home just a shame it was so close, could have happily driven it for ages.

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  • inconsistant changed the title to Live Evening Collection: Black Bini cab

Time for some details.

This is partially the fault of @Neil clark . My wife had been talking about getting a mini to commute to work in, because the Dark Beast is well, a bit of a beast. She had a 2004 Mini One from new for 4 years as a company car and she loved it, and drove all over the country in it for work. In spring this year Neil Clarke posted an advert for a lovely blue convertible in the Bini thread and I (sorry I mean ‘we’) decided a convertible would be perfect for a laugh and a bit of a fun summer. I missed out on that car but have been looking around since for a good one, right specs, right colour, right wheels (because the wheels make such a difference to the convertible, I think because the roof is such a big solid mass side on it needs big wheels to look right) and asked the owner of this one what they were like. They suggested they were probably going to sell shortly it so we expressed an interest. Trouble is it was so well loved it’s taken until now for them to decide they really want to part with it, so we sort of missed the summer and have ended up buying a convertible in mid September just in time for autumn.

We were really after a Cooper for cheaper running costs and simplicity, and ideally wanted a car with a bit of colour, like the Hot Orange or Cool Blue they did these convertibles in. But black is ok. This is a car that’s been known to us for 4-5 years, and I’ve been in it a few times too in the past. It has a touch under 80,000 miles, full service history and I think 3 owners. Serviced every year, and clutch/dmf replaced a couple of years ago. Just been MOTed and only ever failed a couple of past MOTs on blown bulbs.

The thing that finally prompted the owner to sell was that it needed a rear exhaust box repaired to get it through MOT, and they were quoted a 4 figure sum for a replacement exhaust system. So we were offered it for the same amount as Schofield/WBAC were going to give. I think I can replace the exhaust for a lot less so we bought it on that basis. It also had an advisory for a leaky inner drive shaft boot. Hopefully getting these fixed and refurbing the alloys should hopefully give us a decent Cooper S convertible for a bit less than it’s currently worth. The owner hasn’t washed it, so it looks a bit tatty but it looks great with a clean. The hood is in very good condition and all works fine. Noted the ‘average economy’ showed 31mpg, with isn’t too bad for around the lanes I suppose.

Although fairly confident the car was OK I did read a lot of R52 (convertible) and R53(Cooper S) buyers guides for Minis on the web. I’m not great at mechanical stuff and looking over new cars is a bit overwhelming, so I compiled this list, posting here in case it might be useful to others.

Clutch done, including DMF?

Check oil level. Plastic dipstick broken?

Oil leaks, check sump, rocker cover, timing chain cover, sump gasket, crank position sensor

Check for no rust in coolant. Plastic coolant bottle splits, check?

Is air filter clean?

Strut tops ok?

Check has 2x remote key fobs

Check for water in boot, inc. water in battery tray if Cooper S.

Wet front footwells/damage to ECU above footwell

Oil change intervals on service record?

Check bodywork for loose front bumper

Rust on door bottoms, on tailgate above no plate, around join between plastic body kit & metal bodywork

Engine noises? Rattles/knocks when started from cold

Steering pump makes a high whine ok but listen for odd noises

Check for front tyre wear. Heavy clutch? Full lock, check for knocking from front

Slow electric windows, motor bight be about to fail?

Airbag & abs lights go out?

Check seat adjustment works ok

Fuel tank retaining strap rust?

Battery fixed down/check battery charge

Check roof works a few times in all combinations of roof up down/windows up/down.

Check all electrical stuff esp. air con.

All seemed to be OK, absolutely bone dry inside, no oil drips on road, and from what I could make out no oil in engine bay. But it’s pretty tight in there! Battery charge low, only showing 11.9v, so thought it might not start but fired up immediately on first turn of the key with no rattles or other odd noises and settled to a smooth idle straight away. Maybe I’ll get a new battery before winter just to be on the safe side. Exhaust, although it’s been repaired temporarily with paste, is a bit noisy and there’s a rattle from the rear right box so I think the exhaust is going to get fixed asap.

Driving it… took it out for a quick run around the lanes before it got dark and impressed by how smooth it ran, how it would do 30mph in 5th and pull with no trouble at all. Got a bit overexcited by trying to red line it in 2nd pulling out of a junction and hit the 60mph speed limit well before I needed to change gear. It reminded me of the fun we used to have in our 2004 Mini, the handling is so tight, but is also drives like a much bigger car when you’re just wafting along and feels very surefooted and settled.

The roof is good fun. It got dark and a bit cooler but the hood stayed down because with the windows up it’s more sheltered than I expected, and the heater is amazing. When I did need to pop the roof up for the drive home after dark I was surprised how warm and quiet it was. Other observations… the seats are really comfortable, there’s more space in the rear than I expected, especially leg room. I still love the dashboard layout, and remembered having to set the computer read out in front of the driver to show speed otherwise it was easy to not realise how fast you’re going.

 

Now some photos!

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2 hours ago, inconsistant said:

Time for some details.

This is partially the fault of @Neil clark . My wife had been talking about getting a mini to commute to work in, because the Dark Beast is well, a bit of a beast. She had a 2004 Mini One from new for 4 years as a company car and she loved it, and drove all over the country in it for work. In spring this year Neil Clarke posted an advert for a lovely blue convertible in the Bini thread and I (sorry I mean ‘we’) decided a convertible would be perfect for a laugh and a bit of a fun summer. I missed out on that car but have been looking around since for a good one, right specs, right colour, right wheels (because the wheels make such a difference to the convertible, I think because the roof is such a big solid mass side on it needs big wheels to look right) and asked the owner of this one what they were like. They suggested they were probably going to sell shortly it so we expressed an interest. Trouble is it was so well loved it’s taken until now for them to decide they really want to part with it, so we sort of missed the summer and have ended up buying a convertible in mid September just in time for autumn.

We were really after a Cooper for cheaper running costs and simplicity, and ideally wanted a car with a bit of colour, like the Hot Orange or Cool Blue they did these convertibles in. But black is ok. This is a car that’s been known to us for 4-5 years, and I’ve been in it a few times too in the past. It has a touch under 80,000 miles, full service history and I think 3 owners. Serviced every year, and clutch/dmf replaced a couple of years ago. Just been MOTed and only ever failed a couple of past MOTs on blown bulbs.

The thing that finally prompted the owner to sell was that it needed a rear exhaust box repaired to get it through MOT, and they were quoted a 4 figure sum for a replacement exhaust system. So we were offered it for the same amount as Schofield/WBAC were going to give. I think I can replace the exhaust for a lot less so we bought it on that basis. It also had an advisory for a leaky inner drive shaft boot. Hopefully getting these fixed and refurbing the alloys should hopefully give us a decent Cooper S convertible for a bit less than it’s currently worth. The owner hasn’t washed it, so it looks a bit tatty but it looks great with a clean. The hood is in very good condition and all works fine. Noted the ‘average economy’ showed 31mpg, with isn’t too bad for around the lanes I suppose.

Although fairly confident the car was OK I did read a lot of R52 (convertible) and R53(Cooper S) buyers guides for Minis on the web. I’m not great at mechanical stuff and looking over new cars is a bit overwhelming, so I compiled this list, posting here in case it might be useful to others.

Clutch done, including DMF?

Check oil level. Plastic dipstick broken?

Oil leaks, check sump, rocker cover, timing chain cover, sump gasket, crank position sensor

Check for no rust in coolant. Plastic coolant bottle splits, check?

Is air filter clean?

Strut tops ok?

Check has 2x remote key fobs

Check for water in boot, inc. water in battery tray if Cooper S.

Wet front footwells/damage to ECU above footwell

Oil change intervals on service record?

Check bodywork for loose front bumper

Rust on door bottoms, on tailgate above no plate, around join between plastic body kit & metal bodywork

Engine noises? Rattles/knocks when started from cold

Steering pump makes a high whine ok but listen for odd noises

Check for front tyre wear. Heavy clutch? Full lock, check for knocking from front

Slow electric windows, motor bight be about to fail?

Airbag & abs lights go out?

Check seat adjustment works ok

Fuel tank retaining strap rust?

Battery fixed down/check battery charge

Check roof works a few times in all combinations of roof up down/windows up/down.

Check all electrical stuff esp. air con.

All seemed to be OK, absolutely bone dry inside, no oil drips on road, and from what I could make out no oil in engine bay. But it’s pretty tight in there! Battery charge low, only showing 11.9v, so thought it might not start but fired up immediately on first turn of the key with no rattles or other odd noises and settled to a smooth idle straight away. Maybe I’ll get a new battery before winter just to be on the safe side. Exhaust, although it’s been repaired temporarily with paste, is a bit noisy and there’s a rattle from the rear right box so I think the exhaust is going to get fixed asap.

Driving it… took it out for a quick run around the lanes before it got dark and impressed by how smooth it ran, how it would do 30mph in 5th and pull with no trouble at all. Got a bit overexcited by trying to red line it in 2nd pulling out of a junction and hit the 60mph speed limit well before I needed to change gear. It reminded me of the fun we used to have in our 2004 Mini, the handling is so tight, but is also drives like a much bigger car when you’re just wafting along and feels very surefooted and settled.

The roof is good fun. It got dark and a bit cooler but the hood stayed down because with the windows up it’s more sheltered than I expected, and the heater is amazing. When I did need to pop the roof up for the drive home after dark I was surprised how warm and quiet it was. Other observations… the seats are really comfortable, there’s more space in the rear than I expected, especially leg room. I still love the dashboard layout, and remembered having to set the computer read out in front of the driver to show speed otherwise it was easy to not realise how fast you’re going.

 

Now some photos!

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Looks lovely that. Exactly what I'm after now!

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  • inconsistant changed the title to A Mini Adventure, part 4

This is my/our 4th Mini. They have all been very different to each other with hardly any overlaps so ownership has covered a lot of Mini variants available over the years: Saloon, Estate, Hatchback, Convertible, Proper Mini, Clubman, new fangled Bini, bASe, Mayfair, Cooper S, 998cc, 1098cc and  1598cc

They’ve all been brilliant cars for various reasons. So please allow me a little self indulgence while I recount my Mini Adventures...

Mini Adventure part1

1983 Mini Mayfair blue A861NYC

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Bought in 1989 for £2000, one owner from new, 38,000 miles and absolutely immaculate.

Bought on hols in Taunton, my Dad drove it home to Kent and couldn’t believe how slow and underpowered it was, struggling to stay in 4th on motorway inclines. I was surprised, I’d been led to believe Minis were quite nippy. We discovered shortly afterwards it was only running on 3 cylinders. Once fixed it turned out to be quite nippy.

It was my mum’s car really, and up to this we'd been a one car family so it felt quite an extravagance having two cars. I’m claiming it as mine though since  it was mainly bought so I had a way to get to Art College in Maidstone from our little village so I used it daily for the first year we had it, bombing along Pilgrims Way confident that whatever I met coming the other way there was always just enough room for a little Mini to get through. My chum’s mum had a beige Mini City at the same time and we would regularly bomb about the country lanes at night in Scalextric formation. I loved the handling and loved how it could straighten bends just by virtue of being so much narrower than the width of the lane.

As well as making sure the full rev range was used regularly I washed and cleaned it weekly and kept it in tip top condition. I experienced my first puncture and roadside wheel change, other than that it was pretty much trouble free in the 3 yrs we owned it. One day I was bombing back from college approaching our village along a B road and cut the corner on a fast open right hander with limited visibility. Not dangerously, just half across the white line, knowing if I saw a car coming the other way a quick left flick of the wheel would get me onto the right side of the road. Unfortunately the car I met, and frightened, coming the other way was my Mum driving my Dad’s car. I got a stern talking to when she got home. My hurriedly though up excuse that it was about to start raining and I was rushing back to get the car in the garage before it got wet didn’t cut any mustard.

After a few years my mum decided she wanted something newer/bigger/more comfy on long journeys so it got sold and replaced with a red 1989 Metro 1.3GS which my Mum loved. My friends took the piss relentlessly, but I quite liked driving it. Really missed the Mini though, and knew it wouldn’t be the last. A couple of years later at University I did my dissertation about Alec Issigonis, his legacy and how it related to car design in the 2nd half of the 20th century. So I think they sort of got under my skin.

 

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Mini Adventure part2

1977 Mini Clubman Estate brown XGT3S

One owner car, and about 31,000 miles from new. Bought in 1993 for £750 this was my first car, bought with money saved up. The only car I’ve ever given a name to; ‘Edna’ after the previous owner, felt like it suited it. I needed a car for Uni, the following week I started a year long course in Aberdeen. Got it serviced locally, loaded my stuff in the back, strapped my bike to the roof and set off on the 620 mile journey from Kent to Aberdeen. Exciting times! I’d never driven further north than East Midlands, never been further north than Newcastle. This was probably the Mini Adventure of my life. I lived up there for 4 years in the end, met my wife, and had the best time ever.

We explored Scotland in it, including many trips up the A96 to a bit north of Inverness to see her family, camping trips to the west coast around Ullapool and Gairloch, and return journeys to Kent once or twice a year. It broke down loads, obviously, but looking back probably not as much as it could have done, and never catastrophically. It broke down on many major motorways: M1, M25, M4 and M40, but the best time was when it broke down on the A1.

I was heading home for Christmas with a chum who lived in East Ham, and we agreed to share the petrol cost. We left Aberdeen about 6am on cold dark December morning, and made good progress south. It got light, we passed Edinburgh after 2-3 hours, and after another hour or so crossed the border into England, and decided to stop to eat at a roadside cafe near Bamburgh as it was late morning. I lost power and the car just managed to judder and freewheel off the road into the truck stop car park.

Phoned AA, and had an hours wait for patrolman. He had a fiddle, said it was fixed, and we drove off with him following, but it did the same. He towed me back to the truck stop. Another hour wait for the recovery truck which relayed us only as far as Newcastle as his shift was ending soon. We waited there for an hour as it started to get dark again, for someone to start an 8 hour shift to relay us 4 hours south to Sheffield, I think it was. Then the same wait again for someone to get us to London. This recovery truck also had a trailer with a motorbike on it, so we were about as long as an articulated lorry, which meant once motorbike man was dropped near Wembley NW London we had to head back out to the M25 and around London via East Ham to drop my chum off before heading back onto the M25 to near J4 in NW Kent. I finally got home about 1.45am. On the plus side, I managed Aberdeen to London on about £12 of petrol.

It was a great car, saw hardly any of them about even then. Very practical with van doors and folding seat, and being an 1100 with 45bhp it had a uesful extra 7bhp over the standard Mini, and had clubman luxuries such as, er, cloth seats and, er? It was way less fuel efficient than our previous Mini, I recall an average of about 35mpg compared to 45mpg in the blue one. That Clubman front was very brick like. I reckon the estate was nicer to drive, the longer wheel base cut down on some of the choppiness.

I found a tiny little garage in Salisbury Terrace Aberdeen run by an old nearly retired bloke called George and his wife, they loved seeing my ‘bonny wee car’ and did plenty of welding, replaced piston rings when it was using more oil than petrol, replaced the clutch, and did general servicing and stuff. Because I needed to do occasional journeys to Kent I never trusted myself to attempt any servicing or fixing it. It was tatty but mechanically ok… roads were salted permanently over winter in those days, I visited the jet wash weekly to hose down the inside of the wings, the sills and the undersides, and let the relentless rain take care of the top half. Carpets lived indoors during winters so the water could run out of the footwell drains more easily, and I learned with this car to always park old cars facing downhill. I fitted some Carlos fandango supersede wheels to it (cosmic alloys I recall) and some fancy tyres from someone in the Aberdeen Mini Owners Club. I liked how it looked.

After moving back to Kent and having owned it for 5 years I replaced it with an E reg VW Polo 1.0C, and sold the Mini to my cousin who was head gardener on a private estate and wanted a cheap car to whizz about in. After 2-3 years I bought it back off of him, put it in for an MOT but it was totally shagged underneath from all the muddy tracks it lived on and needed masses of work to pass. The garage even phoned me to say it was going to fail catastrophically and if I wanted them to stop the test I could get a refund. I held onto it for another year or so planning to get it roadworthy but was too skint and sold it to someone from Kent who was going to do it up for his sons first car. Don’t know what happened to it but last time I checked the reg no was on a Porsche 911 and in those days you had to have an MOT to transfer a reg no so they must have at least got it MOTed. Still miss it, but also wouldn’t want it back.

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Mini Adventure pt3

2004 Mini One RF54JJZ

Brand new, delivery miles only. A lot of people, especially Mini fans, were really negative about the new Bini Mini, but I thought they were brilliant. Exactly what the original Mini should have evolved into if it had been nurtured and developed sympathetically during its lifecycle taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the original but also the changing needs, desires and aspirations of the car buying public. I didn’t understand or care for the ‘its not a proper Mini’ thing, thought it was really narrow minded.

After they’d been out a couple of years my wife changed jobs and got a company car as she had to do a lot of motorway driving. We negotiated down from a basic spec Golf to a basic spec Mini but with the chance to add some options, so this one had salt & pepper options, alloys, double sunroof and other bits and bobs to make it nice.  We actually ordered it in early 2004 but they messed up the order, so a month or two later we had to re-order, then because there was a massive waiting list, by the time ours arrived in October 2004 we got one of the earliest of the face lifted Minis, so it was better than we were expecting in a number of ways, like having a glovebox and nicer alloys than those minilite inspired early ones I don’t think look that great. We absolutely loved this Mini, despite only 90bhp (it replaced a 100bhp 1.4 VW Polo 16V so felt like low output for a 1.6 engine) it was quite perky, fun through the country lanes but also a surprisingly great car for touring and long motorway trips. Similar to the old Minis, the engine was more about flexibility and torque rather that outright acceleration and high revs.

We got to drive a Cooper of the same age and were surprised how little difference there was between the performance of the Cooper and the One, despite having about 25bhp more. Handling felt the same. Because Minis were still quite new we experienced that bit in the first few years they were out where other people in Minis would wave or flash lights as they passed. We were way too cool to do this but we did indulge when we took it through France to Switzerland when it was fairly new, where it got plenty of positive attention. We also took it to North West Scotland, Wales and France several times including Brittany and Bordeaux. The trips were always a pleasure. Each time it came back across the channel absolutely rammed with cheap booze, wine bottles wedged onto every tiny gap and crates of beer in the passenger footwell.

It let us down a couple of times, once early on we got locked out and BMW had to come out to reset some electronic gubbins. Wife discovered a slashed tyre in Cardiff after a long day at work and had to drive all the way back to Surrey at 50mph on the spacesaver. Not really the car’s fault though other than not having a proper spare. Took her hours and hours and she was still livid when she eventually got home.

We were only supposed to have it for 3 years but due to cost savings they wouldn’t give her another Mini, just "some shitty Clio or something" so she refused to give it back unless she was offered another Mini, and told them if they took it off her she would refuse to drive something she hadn’t chosen and didn’t feel safe in, so we kept it for nearly 5 years finally giving it back in 2009 having taken it from brand new up to about 75,000 miles. Since we were starting a family, and were buying a car with our own money, we replaced it with a £900 Audi A6 estate 1.8T with 140,000 on the clock. It felt very different to the Mini, you were very aware of how much car was behind you following you around.  From the MOT checker I see this Mini lived on a few more years and looks like it last passed an MOT in 2017 with 132,000 miles.

We got married while we owned this car, so we borrowed a family friends red late 1990s Mini Cooper S and used both red Minis as our wedding cars. It was amazing driving the Cooper S, a million miles from the Minis I’d driven in the 80s/90s, but sort of still the same.

We planned to have another at some point in the future, and have spent the last decade watching the values of these early Binis (r50/52/53) heading down towards our price range with glee. Which brings us up to date!

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