I can’t believe that it’s three years since I laid out my own hard earned for my very first new car. But the MINI First was bought as a present for my long-suffering partner, who had to put up with my long and painful rehabilitation following my accident in Romania – so normal rules didn’t apply.
At the time, a long and embittered battle with the readers of AROnline over the MINI was raging – some, like me, completely supported the cars, as well as parent company BMW’s commitment to the UK in building it here. Others found it an affront to the Mini name, and time and time again, would come up with cliches such as ‘Alec Issigonis would be spinning in his grave’, while calling it a bloated imposter – not so much a Mini, but a MAXI.
Hmm. Another comment that I was greeted with was that it would be unreliable, and would drive me to distraction – when not chewing up its camchain, it would be rusting into oblivion.
Hmm. During its time in my custodianship, the MINI hasn’t put a foot wrong. It’s been back to the dealer twice for scheduled check-ups, and a further time to have some very nice Xenon headlamps fitted and coded-in to the car. But other than that, it’s never missed a beat.
Credit should also be given to the excellent service and friendly atmosphere at the dealer. Paul Raynes and Gareth Earl in sales have been brilliant, and I’m happy to call both my friends – the fact they read my stuff and are both nuts about classic Minis helps a great deal, I suppose. For its three-year check-up, the car returned to Wollaston MINI, and passed without comment – having the TLC package meant it was free, and came back to me fully valeted.
But… disappointingly, they didn’t remind us about the upcoming first MoT, which is why this morning – Christmas Eve – I’ve driven the car into work for a last-minute test at Brake and Service World. I put the test down to luck, as I’d not checked anything beforehand, and as it rolled into the bay, I noticed a number plate bulb was out…
Still, it passed after a fashion. The bulb needed changing, and the (replacement) headlights needed aligning. Other than that, it was a clean bill of health, with the tester commenting that it was a ‘lovely clean little car.’ Considering it’s now covered 33,000 miles, and gets properly used, I’m very pleased indeed. And given that I’m happy if ‘er indoors is happy, then everyone’s a winner.
Shame she doesn’t want a new one, really…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.