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! 😀