A Three-Year Affair, er, Report - June, 2002 – June, 2005
Marlowe had a name for the place back in the day – “Bay City”; not the real name of a hard little place, hard by the City of Angels, but one of the nicer ones. I had been there a few times before, looking for the elusive “New MINI”, but by then I’d been down a lot of other dead ends, running down rumors of sweet deals that turned to into bad dreams. That was why I was walking into Big Tony’s backroom, ready to sign on the line, or, if the play turned sour, walk.
The Kid had started it all, back the year before, so maybe I coulda blamed him for everything after that, but I knew what I was getting into – you never really shake that First Mini Drive, even after all these years. He had heard the siren’s song of the New MINI, seen the glamour shots, fallen for a promise. So I had my work cut out for me – that was hard enough – then I took the New MINI Drive, then another one, and it was too late for me, too. The Kid was willing to wait, wanting it just right, but I had to get my hands on one, NOW. The word on the street said no MINIs available without the Big Payoff – I don’t play that game. Then a waft of`a drift of a fog of smoke gave me hint – Cherry Street.
Alli, the Siren of Long Beach Mini, said in a voice so husky it coulda pulled the Iditarod winner, “Mr. Tony can check the Book, but no promises” – hard words, but no dame ever looked better saying ‘em. (Sure miss that gal.) Had a sit-down with Mr. Tony and Matt The Man – between ‘em they filled the inside straight and we did a handshake for a BRG & White Cooper CVT, with Cordova, Auto-Air, 5-Stars & Sunroof –
What a ride, lemme tell ya. Added the Parcel Shelf, the MINI-FINI cup holder, and the best aftermarket mod
of all – Ian’s Auto-up Window Thingie!
Cornering. Cornering. Cornering. No need to tattoo it on your forehead with a blunt instrument if you’re a MINI owner, but that’s what this car is all about, ‘S’ or not. Three years on, and 65,000 on the clock – still kickin’ butt in the twisties, and as for freeway traffic, it’s like a PT Boat slicing thru a fleet of Cunard Line 4-stackers. We’ve been on the Border-To-Border-In-No-Particular-Order Run a few times, AMVIV twice, over to Phoenix too many times to remember and carved many a backroad on the way. Never failed to start, and issues have been few – lost a windshield, coulda been a rock, but looked like a stress crack to yours truly. Had a few software updates, played the hatch latch match, had the hood rub inside some and MINI fixed that – all in all a fairly low list of gripes, but none which really affected her status as a daily driver. Wednesday car, gotta be.
Liked the sound of Gabe’s Remus, so I spent an afternoon under her and it added more than just decibels – just a touch more pull at the right revs, perfect for those annoyin’ medium grade hills. Went for Yokos after the run-flats wore out – brother, I already got me a spare! - and that ‘s smoothed out the ride to make it tolerable. Went for Sport Suspension only – not just for the ride, but less stress on the monocoque as a whole. (Seen a few ‘S’s get skittish in the nadgery bits out East of here, as well.) Yeah, I heard all the liturgy from both sides, but the Cooper is more adaptable to commuting than my ‘S’, and the CVT has been quite the surprise.
After the break-in period, I took Brooksie out to local industrial park on the weekends for while – had to find the best way to CVT around. Came up with the 1-D-SD “flick”, a little trick to get over the slight lag on take-off – I guess some other CVT’ers use it now, too, so it wasn’t in vain. Haven’t had any of the major faults that some CVTs have had, so touch wood. It is so much fun to sequential shift when I want, or just tootle along in D or SD.
Pics at MINI2 and some on the Owner’s Lounge at MINIUSA, which brings me to this undeniable fact - prolly the best thing about the whole experience has been the MINI community - barring a few over-compensators that are in all societies, it has been a pleasure sharing experiences with so many motorers. The Factory must’ve winkled me out here and there - somehow, I was a Featured Resume on MINIUSA, and made the cover of the last You-ification Accessories Catalog – you could look it up.
Well, heading up to Pike’s Market in a coupla months, goin’ up the Coast as much as possible, so back to that day three years ago – yeah, I signed on the line, who wouldn’t? Brooksie and I’ll be around for a good while longer - I had fallen hook, line, & sinker – Browning once said, “Never the time and the place and the loved one all together” ??? – not this time, baby.
Rob in Dago Noir