Our Cars : MINI First loses its wheel… trim

Keith Adams

MINI First lost a trim... we're still not sure how
MINI First lost a trim... we're still not sure how

So, something’s dropped off our shiny new MINI First. After five months’ and 5000 miles’ happy motoring, and not a single problem to report (as you’d expect with a brand new car), it’s almost with a sense of glee that I cam home to find that something had finally dropped off it. Now, it would be possible to say that the MINI hasn’t completely lost sight of the past.

I wasn’t driving it when the errant wheeltrim fell off, but ‘er indoors the driver, was quick to say that she hadn’t done anything wrong, and that she doesn’t remember hitting anything. So did it just fall off of its own accord? Or was it taken? Who knows?

But today, I thought it would be nice to get out and put some miles under the belt of the test Range Rover Evoque and see how much a new one would cost from a dealer. When I arrived there (on a Saturday afternoon), the lady at the counter suggested that it would be around £15, but I couldn’t buy one until Tuesday. That sounds reasonable enough to me – but the missing plastic did have me wondering: should I replace it at all, and just buy some replacement alloys? The one thing you can’t say MINI doesn’t do well is alloys – and a nice set of 16s could look lovely on the burnt orange First.

But friend Richard Porter suggested an even better idea – how about going naked? Instead of buying another trim, how about taking them all off, and just slotting in some centre caps instead for that ultimate MINImalist look? I have to say I do like that idea. The picture below gives you some idea…

But while I’m thinking, I’ll just stick on the trim the salesman gave me on the way out.

So, what to do? Trims, alloys or naked? Have your say below.

MINI on steel wheels
MINI on steel wheels
Keith Adams


  1. The plastic trims on the Mini’s aren’t the best looking ones, actually look pretty cheap.

    Seeing as the wheels underneath are already painted silver then it probably looks better without.

  2. The steelies when clean, Painted and with the centre cap look quite nice. A little different.
    Had a Fiat Uno once, that used a centre cap as opposed to a full trim. Incidentally never lost a trim from a fiat, the wheel bolts go through the trim and fasten it in place. I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t do that, but having just this second thought about it, how much do they make in aftersales for lost or nicked ones?

  3. I’ve always liked bare steelies on cars. They look more purposeful in my opinion. They were very popular on cars for many years until the 1990s. When manufacturers put wheel trims on their cars, many buyers thought will look better with plastic wheel trims.

    So I say…Go for the bare steelies Keith! 🙂

  4. Steel wheels can look very good! Certainly better than cheap looking or scuffed trims.

    Reminds me of my early years of motoring – taking rusty steel wheels, sanding them, spraying with silver ‘aluminium’ paint and jazzing them up further with some chrome rims from a high spec Ford or similar.

  5. The bare steel wheels take me back to the 1970s style of cars. My Viva had Rostyle wheels which I used to repaint in silver/black and they then looked new!

    I remember MK3 & 4 Cortinas had steel wheels on lower spec versions and steel “sports” wheels on XL/GL/Ghia types which looked pretty good in those days.

  6. There’s a factory steeled MINI 500 yards from my house with the little plastic centre caps, looks rather sweet actually. I always like those white Dymags some early press shots of a blue cooper had, but subsequently never appeared with.

    The worse retro chic factory steels? Easy. MX5.

  7. Steel wheels look much better than those nasty old hub caps. But alloys would be best.

  8. The BX had a tendency to lose a single wheeltrim.

    Last car I saw with bare wheels that looked good was a 309.

    Seen a countryman with steelies, but it just looks like a fleet car that’s kept the trims for resale later.
    The hatchback fares a bit better with the look!

  9. Will M, above

    “Last car I saw with bare wheels that looked good was a 309”

    Pardon!? When did a 309 ever look good unless it was a GTi !? Even then it was hardly the last word in beauty.

  10. “Pardon!? When did a 309 ever look good unless it was a GTi !?”

    Well they did 2 or 3 GTi lookalikes, with the trim but not the engine.

  11. Lots of Fabia vRS owners slap the 16″ steelies from the Beetle (or 4x the full size spare..same thing) on during winter or even the whole year.. there’s something about a large 15″/16″ steel that looks more sporty.. like on the Rallye Peugeots…

    Get them power coated white? 🙂

  12. Go with the bare steelies Keith.

    How about painting the wheels high gloss black, with chrome trim rings and centre caps for a 70’s-tastic look?

  13. Speaking of wheeltrims my maestro has lost a 15 inch one (it is a 1996 Bulgarian-assembled one) does anyone have any spares they want to sell me?

  14. Definitely Alloys – I have always hated steel wheels with a passion, they start to rust in no time – I remember repainting them on Chevettes and Corsas and the Rostyles on my Mk1 Cavalier when I had to hand paint in the black bits 🙁

  15. Brings back memories of driving my mate’s Montego in Paris many moons ago.

    Crossing a bridge that looks as though the Royal Engineers had knocked up one afternoon at about 40mph I hit a sudden bump and both front wheel trims detached themselves and accelerated away – why do they do that?

    One remained vertical and disappeared into a group of pedestrians deftly spinning past their legs while the other became horizontal and airborn – until it hit the front of a Renauly 5 coming thr other way. It exploded into many parts.

    We had to park for a good 5 minutes before I could see again through my tears of laughter.

    Dangerous looking back, but damn funny at the time.

  16. Seen a couple of the MINI Countrymans with bare steel wheels on show which looked good………they reminded me of the many basic steel wheeled cars you still see in the rest of Europe, whereas alloys or plastic wheel trims are almost a standard fit in the UK even on more basic spec cars.

  17. That isn’t a BX is it in the reflection?

    Go naked – looks better than trims and everyone has alloys on a Mini…

  18. When a new car loses it’s trims, the black rims look awful. I wish they paint them silver…… At least then if you lose one then it does not look too out of place.

  19. Steelies for me – the MINI in that photo on steelies looks cool in a minimalist retro way, like a proper modern interpretation of the classic Mini. Alloys just make people think you want a Cooper, plus it’s a known fact that everyone who fits alloys to a non-Cooper MINI also paints the roof white!

  20. Minis look awful with platic hub caps. It seems to me that they make them look bad so peopl e will buy the alloys. Which you should have done.


    The Mini is not a base model Kia.

    Probably worth trying the bare wheels first though.

  21. “Minis look awful with platic hub caps”

    Agreed it’s almost like they couldn’t be bothered when they designed the wheel trims. I mean there are some very good looking plastic trims on all sorts of cars out there, so you have to ask why BMW did such a half arsed job of the mini ones.

  22. If those wheels are allegedly silver, those brake pads must be garbage. With all that crap, sticking callipers are just around the corner. The alloys on my car aren’t that bad, and I haven’t washed the car in almost a year and done about 12,000 miles!

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