MINI number one rolls off the line in 2001
The R50- and onwards-generation of MINI rather neatly dovetails with AROnline in many ways. It appeared in 2001, started out with good intentions and has grown beyond all recognition from the original idea. Well, something like that. That maybe why I now seem to have two very early MINIs in my possession right now.
Spurred on by the creation of the MINI Y REGister, and my love of all things early (when it comes to cars), I thought it might be nice to grab one of the original cars and enjoy it for a bit. There’s other good reasons for this, too – thanks to the launch of the F56-generation MINI, these early cars are looking particularly appealing.
Why? Because there’s no escaping that the F56 is a bit of a munter. Yes, it’s great to drive (like any small BMW), and has some very innovative engineering, but its looks really don’t do it any favours. And, yet, because the 2001 car is now visually quite separated from the current car, its now in the realms of the sub-£1000 category, after taking quite a drop in 2015-16.
The Cooper I grabbed, Y702 MDF, came in at that price point and, although it’s grubby and has a missing parcel shelf, there’s still plenty of life left in it. Driving it back from deepest Berkshire last week, it was hard not to fall for its quick steering and playful handling – just as I remembered the first Cooper I drove to the Nurburgring in 2006…
I’ve not done much with it yet, because rather stupidly, I picked up another when my friend and Editor of Car Mechanics magazine, Martyn Knowles, alerted me to the MINI One, Y192 OBL (below). This one was made in April 2001, which makes it a proper launch-spec model.
These OBL cars are particularly interesting, as they’re the plates the press cars wore back in 2001, and most of the road test cars that featured in the car magazines of the day (here in the UK) wore one of these number plates. I’m not, of course, thinking for a moment that they are like a GWAC Land Rover Discovery, or a YYB Range Rover, but, well, know…
I’ll let you know how they go, and what I do with them. For the moment, I’m just curious to see how well these early MINIs have survived, and how similar they feel compared with their development cousin, the Rover 75.
Heck, I’m tempted to put a Rover badge on the MINI One – just for a laugh, you understand.
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.