Regular followers of the site will know that I like to change my cars more often than most people change their underwear. The last Our Cars update was about my Vauxhall Calibra – and how happy I was running a modern classic that cost very little money.
Well, a matter of days after I wrote that, I sold it. Don’t know why I did – I guess because it was a reliable, faultless car that didn’t put a foot wrong. I just don’t seem to bond with reliable cars that actually get me where I want to be. I guess that might explain why I’ve gone and replaced it with an R50-generation MINI, one of the first few off the line, with one or two ‘issues’.
Now’s the time to buy, and all that…
I’ve already blogged about the car – along with the early MINI One which I’ve also picked up – describing how there’s been a significant drop in the values across the board and how that’s made these once must-have cars cheap as chips for anyone looking for a little bit of smart for not much cash.
There is, of course, a pay off. Although they were trumpeted as quality cars when new back in 2001, early MINIs are now suffering from the onset of old age like any other car. So, the ads are now littered with early cars that have led a hard life, and are now showing the signs. Broken gearboxes, warning lights and random faults are now the norm.
Still, that gives one plenty to talk about when buying a ‘project’. So far in my MINI ownership, I’ve not driven the Cooper as much as perhaps I should have. Blame it on my new job at Parkers, which is currently feeding me a continuous source of new cars – in the past few weeks, I’ve driven what seems to be everything from a basic Mitsubishi pick-up to a Mercedes-AMG SL 63, and everything in between.
Mind you, in the times I have driven the MINI, it’s been a great deal of fun – cementing my belief that these are fabulous modern classics. They’s cheap, fun to drive, have a great specialist support network and still look fresh and modern.
As the miles pass by, the faults list is growing
- Tyres need replacing by some premium, matching rubber
- The air-con needs re-gassing, as it keeps steaming up
- The gear selectors could do with changing
- TPMS warning light showing
- Intermittent ABS, ESC and TC lights showing
- A full oil and filter service needs doing
- The missing trim at the top of the A-post needs replacing
- Windscreen and rear wipers need replacing
- The air filter housing and battery case under the bonnet need repairing
- Headlamps need aligning
- Driver’s window needs servicing – it’s agonisingly slow to drop and raise
- Driver’s door mirror glass needs replacing
- Some paint rectification needed
- The interior needs a thorough valeting
- The loud aftermarket exhaust could do with replacing with a standard one
That list looks discouraging, but far from insurmountable, but there are two issues with cracking it, though. One, my time is limited, and, although I love the idea of a project, they rarely pan out these days. And two, it’s MoT’d until next August, so I’ll probably just end up enjoying it until someone offers to buy it off me for less than I paid for it. That’s what usually happens.
You know what, though – I really do think these are great cheap sheds to run around in at the moment. You might argue that they’re not properly British, as they came in under BMW’s remit (despite being developed and designed by Rover), and what I need is a nice Rover 400 like Mike’s. But I just can’t do it, despite my MINI costing more than five times as much, and being considerably sheddier.
Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I do love an early car – and this is almost as early as they come – so, for now, it stays, and I’ll have fun in one of the best steering cars I can remember for many a year. You can’t say that about a Calibra!
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.