Mini Adventure

A blog of owning a 2004 Mini Convertible

The Mini Adventure: Adios, Mini

Hot Orange Mini Cabriolet Convertible

Hot Orange Mini Cabriolet

Well, after 18 months of mini ownership and, admittedly, nowhere near enough updates on here I should have, its time to say goodbye to the Mini.

The lack of updates also reflects the lack of miles, in that the Mini has been used for high days and holidays and as such only covered a few thousand miles – all of them a real hoot, and my little lady (now 4 years old) really enjoyed being in the Mini, roof up or down!

Aside from the new roof requirements in the previous updates, this has been a fantastic little car to own. It has always started on the button, it has never faulted and provided smiles-per-mile unsurpassed for such a low cost car. It would be left in the garage for weeks and the battery never so much as hinted at a problem, unlike its previous Porsche stable mates who needed continual life support to keep them in operation after an extended period of hibernation.

The reason for sale was that, as we have no swapped the Evoque for the Cayenne, things are not all rosy in the automotive satisfaction stakes, in the Motorcloud household. The Cayenne has polarised opinion, in that I really love it and my wife really hates it. What to do? Well, accepting that the Cayenne was going to stay (and admittedly, its a perfect family bus for lugging all of our daily junk around in comfort), my wife wanted to start driving our other car more often (the Mini) – but the problem was that the Mini wasn’t really big enough for daily family shopping duties.

Mini and Beetle

Mini and Beetle

So, time to look at alternatives and the Beetle was chosen as its successor. The Mini was put up for sale and within a few weeks it had sold to a young lady who was already a Mini owner looking for a convertible version. A short time later, the deal was done. I kept the car for a week in my garage whilst she sorted out her insurance and then we said goodbye to our little friend.

It was brightly coloured, very highly spec’d, it was fun, ramshackle-y, but gave as much driving pleasure as sports cars costing ten times as much, at far lower speeds and was cheap to own and run.

I’m sure the new owner will love it as much as we have. They are fantastic fun and as a car for enjoying at weekends with little outlay, or if you are not in need of space and want something a little sprightly, I can’t recommend one highly enough.

 

The Mini Adventure: New Roof.

Ah. When doing my research on the Mini, I read carefully about the most common expensive fault in these cars, namely the gearbox. With cars prior to 2004 likely to need a ‘box rebuild at some point in their lifetime, even the newer cars were not free of the problem – moreover a more expensive repair, if anything.

Put, with the cost of this being around £1,000 at most, and the risk of having a faulty car being almost undetectable it seemed a total gamble as to whether you would get a good one, or a bad one. As such, I thought that it would be worth the risk. To date, all good.

What I hadn’t considered though, was that this being a convertible, it might have issues with the roof. Lo and behold, in May the roof stopped working. Another venture to Porsche Euro and after much research by both of us, the answer was a completely new roof mechanism was required. There was simply no alternative in the market place and, being a BMW direct part, it came with an eye watering bill. All fitted – and with much comical swearing and cursing from John for about an hour, I had a fully working new roof at the cost of £672.

This ‘cheap-as-chips’ car, that replaced our Porsche 911 is turning out to be a rather expensive purchase!

But, with everything now working as it should, hopefully we won’t encounter any more issues. Its a fun car to drive, not particularly comfortable with the rock-hard lumbar of BMW seats, but for smiles per mile with the roof down, it is hard to beat. 🙂

Here it is, back in the garage. 🙂

2004 Orange Mini Cabriolet

2004 Orange Mini Cabriolet

The Mini Adventure: Service, Check Straps and Baffle Rattle.

When we purhcased the Mini, there were a couple of minor niggles that we wanted to get fixed. The first was an exhaust rattle on idle, the other was the check-straps on the doors (the things that wedge the door open at intervals), as our doors just opened and closed too freely, and I wanted to get the car serviced as I didn’t fully understand the ‘service when required’ indicators in the Mini, so wanted to be sure it was in tip-top shape.

I took the little cabrio to John at Porsche Euro, my local Porsche specialist, who also works with many types of Euro cars – the Mini being one of his specialities.

He took care of the door straps without a problem, and undertook a Service 2 inspection, along with the brake fluid change, but the exhaust was rattling on the inside of the baffles and would require an expensive repair. John tried to strap the exhaust to the car, as the original straps had become broken. This made a difference to start with, but the baffle rattle soon came back. As the car isn’t used enough for this to really be annying, we are going to leave it.

With the service indicators now reset (and I now understand how they work!) we probably didn’t need a service for a while yet, but its good to have it all sorted and I suspect it’ll not need another service for years given the mileage we will be doing.

Costs to date:

March – Service (Inspection 2) – £190
April – Brake fluid and check straps – £157

My Mini Adventure – Starts here!

Mini Convertible in Hot Orange

Mini Convertible in Hot Orange

And so, here we have it, the latest addition to the Motorcloud fleet; a 2004 Mini One Convertible – in orange!

Over the past 6 months or so, whilst contemplating what to do with the fleet as we approached 2015, I started to think that I was missing something in motoring-life by having not owned a Mini. My Dad owned one ‘back in the day’ and everyone of his generation seemed to have owned one too.

This, then, is the Mini of the new generation – my generation I guess and the more I thought about it, seeing so many of them zipping about here and there, the more I wanted one. Once I’d decided to sell the 911, this became the next car of choice. The Audi wasn’t running right and I wanted to run two cars for a while, rather than three to make the driveway look a bit neater (I’ve never been a fan of ‘full’ driveways, it just looks so untidy – some weird OCD going on there I’m sure). Plus the cost saving is always a bonus.

Going Used.

With the 911 gone, it was time to go shopping. We looked at a couple but nothing really jumped out as ‘The One’. Initially, yellow was the colour my wife wanted but she preferred the dark-yellow of the newer models, to the sunshine colour of the older models that we were looking at. There are a lot of untidy examples out there with clutches carrying a resistance equal to that of concrete.

Checking out New.

Inevitably, scope-creep always comes into play as a petrol head searching for a car. This started out as a two-grand runabout just for giggles and quickly became a four-grand convertible. I then looked at the price of new ones and looked at the option of leasing one as a company car – which looked to be a great deal; good residuals, cheap running costs, low company car tax.

I knew that Mini had launched a new MK3 version so wanted to see what it looked like in the metal, before investigating the company car option further and so we headed to the Mini Dealer in Leeds. First impressions on the new model? Bulbous is the word that sprung to mind. Like a Mini with Botox. But that wouldn’t necessarily put me and my good lady off the purchase if the rest of it was decent – and it was. The interior is lovely, and the clutch was nice and light. But it wasn’t any more practical than the old one – and the sales lady at Leeds Mini wasn’t great either. I was honest with her about the scope creep, starting at £2k, then £4k and then potentially a company car. She confirmed that at that low price, there was nothing she would be able to sell to us – and that they don’t deal with company cars. So, having immediately boxed this off as being nothing that would make her any sort of money she promptly disappeared, leaving some of my questions unanswered and had me wandering around the dealership trying to find her several times to see what my options were on a new car.

Granted, I might have been something of a ‘timewaster’ to her, but the dealership wasn’t exactly overflowing with customers (there was one other customer but clearly the tea-and chat back-office with the rest of the sales team took precedence). But I was buying into the brand – potentially a new car, or possibly a full retail customer in future either as another purchase, or servicing – and my mind wasn’t in any way made up. Could she have stolen a sale? We’ll never know. But if you are planning to buy new in the local area, head to Mini Wakefield – their service is streets ahead.

The Chosen One.

We left with a brochure and went back to the classifieds, convinced that the cheaper, older alternative was the way to go. The lack of extra space in the new car negated the extra cost given this is an occasional car. After a few days of checking out the Auto Trader, we found our ultimate purchase: A 2004 Mini One Convertible in Orange, with a huge option list of extra’s, chiefly the Orange dashboard and striped half-leather interior attracted our attention the most. The colour was different and striking – always a winner in our household – and my wife said that this really looked like the one she wanted – no others to date had really struck a cord like this one did.

It was a private sale, so we went to the owners home to take a look. It looked as good as the photos and the owners were relaxed and accommodating. My mechanic brother-in-law came a long to look past the shiny bling and he confirmed all looked fine, aside from a noise that could be heard from the gearbox when the clutch wasn’t depressed. A Google search showed that gearboxes are known flaws in these cars, but like the 911 and their chocolate-engines, it seemed a hit-and-miss on any used Mini as to whether this would need replacing or not. With everything else looking fine, I decided to take the gamble and with a few hundred pounds negotiated off the price, we had ourselves a new Mini!!

Driving.

The first drive home was taken by my wife, and a stop at the services I asked how it was going. “Its good,” she smiled “A bit ramshackely, but its nice and easy to drive!”. It is a bit bumpy, and definitely feels like the 911 in terms of suspension hardness (this might be the run-flat tyres, which are known for adding stiffness to the drive), but the steering is lovely and precise. My initial thoughts when I got to drive it later on local roads was that is had the characteristics of a sports car – real point-and-squirt stuff. Being a small car, it definitely feels like a go-kart and, although you feel like you are pressing on in the same way you can in the Porsche, but a look at the speedo indicated I wasn’t near the speed limits of my chosen roads. Fantastic! A real interactive experience in which you won’t loose ones licence. No wonder they are so popular.

And so with this as a second car, just for fun and short journeys, I’m looking forward to our time with this car. I’ll keep the blog updated 🙂

A few photos below of the car from the sale advert. Notice the two little cars in the boxes? They were photoshopped by someone on a car forum for me with the reply “Here, I found the box for you!”. haha! 😀