Leonard’s Car Wash

Here in Florida it’s crazy hot and sunny for much of the year, making it very hard to hand wash any car. In the past I might have washed my MINI early morning while still in shade from our house, but now my X3 is a bit too big to easily wash, and I’m getting lazy – and anyway since it’s garaged it doesn’t get all that dirty so it’s been about six months since I purchased … and I decided to have my X3 washed by someone else!

There’s a few local Winter Garden car wash companies; I’ve used Classic Car Wash once before, but today decided to try Leonard & Son that is frequently recommended, online. I stayed close by for the more than one hour it took (!) and watched them take as much care as I would have – and of course I took pictures …

Overall, my X3 looks as good as when delivered; not quite sure it’s worth the $40 cost, but it was much easier than me doing the work!

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Another BMW, “the beast”

I’ve been considering replacing my last MINI for a while; while Margaret was looking for her new car I was also taking notice of the Corvette Stingray, Audi TT, Porsche Boxster, and Teslas that we tested – the Corvette was so fast but horribly noisy, the Porsche was both uncomfortable and noisy, the Tesla was a surprising let down considering all the technology it’s equipped with … I’d shortlisted returning to Audi to see what other choices they had.

When Margaret picked up her new car, I realized that BMWs technology (especially wireless Apple CarPlay) had improved dramatically from the last BMW I owned, or even from my two year old MINI which is full of BMW tech. So I set a challenge to Margaret’s BMW salesperson, to find a fun to drive car with technology to beat Audi … She suggested I test drive an X3 which I initially turned down (I’d owned one of them before) but she insisted and so I did – and WOW was it a different and fun vehicle!

So, welcome to my new car, a BMW X3 M40i with insane performance (0-60 in 4.6s!), and loads of technology. Oh, and it’s really hard to photograph the Dark Graphite metallic paint …

Technology includes a touch screen media/map/menu display that supports Apple CarPlay, a “virtual” cockpit dial display that changes for different driving modes and situations, and 360 degree surround camera views for easy parking …

All those cameras can also be used remotely with an iPhone App that displays the cars location – pretty clever! This is the view, a virtual car with the exterior camera images wrapped around to simulate a “drone view” anywhere around the car:

A few other highlights – lots of blue on this car from the M badging, repeated on the seat and door stitching, brake calipers – and the interior lighting is configurable so of course I have it set to blue as well.

 

The end of GBMINI

It’s been more than fifteen years since I purchased my first (BMW designed) MINI; my original reasons were because of the beautiful design of the R50 with it’s many nods to the class Mini (which I’d owned for a while in the 1980s), along with handling and steering response providing for an incredible fun driving experience!

Over the years I’ve owned 8 different MINIs – I’ve upgraded to gain better performance, better interior technology, or better comfort …

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What’s clear though is that those last two cars are not really from the same family as the earlier ones! For sure GPMINI was the most amazing fun of all those cars; it’s handling and performance beat all other MINIs, the Thunder Blue looks incredible, but it was noisy and a harsh ride for sure! Since then, MINI has tried to appeal to more people; my Clubman is by far the most comfortable of all – but it’s also $40,000 compared with the about $25,000 of my early MINIs (even GPMINI was only about $31,000).

In the past too, MINIs kept their value well; I think I’d lose about a third of their value after a few years ownership, meaning that driving a MINI cost me perhaps $3,000-$5,000 per year. But I’ve found recently that my two year old under 10K miles Clubman has lost more than half it’s value, meaning it’s cost me more than $10,000 per year! OK, I chose a very well equipped vehicle so the price started high, but to crash so far / so fast is just horrible!

So for that reason, my Clubman is my last MINI. At the price of a well equipped MINI, there’s many other choices – and when I factor the poor resale value of these cars, it makes choosing something else even more sensible.

The other thing that makes owning a MINI a fun experience is the community; here too that experience has reduced over the years – in central Florida there’s very few events other than the annual Mickey & MINI but my MINI owning friends are still friends even if I don’t own a MINI. I don’t think they’ll mind too much about my next choice (well, one of them might but that’s ok) …

 

MTTS 2018 route starts in Florida!

MINI USA today announced the official route for MINI TAKES THE STATES (MTTS) 2018. The legendary rally for MINI owners, which runs from July 14 – 22, will start from two separate locations on opposite sides of the country and meet in the middle for a weekend celebration of everything MINI. The starting cities will be Orlando, Fla., and Portland, Ore. The final destination is Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colo., approximately 75 miles west of downtown Denver. Once arriving at Keystone, MINI owners from both routes will have the weekend to trade stories, share their experiences, show off their MINI, explore the area on curated mountain drives, support our charity partner and enjoy fun activities planned by the MINI USA team.

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I guess they want me to join in!

 

Third repair attempt!

I’ve never really had significant issues with MINIs I’ve owned, at least not since the early days of SES lights and “bad gas” behavior … but my 2016 Clubman seems determined to be annoying with it’s repeated electric parking brake failure (here, here) and it’s back again today! The behavior is to report failure of the parking brake – even though the brake is actually applied and the car can’t move.

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Since the car believes there’s a problem, it now won’t release the brake so no more driving. Luckily, a tedious sequence of turning off and on, applying / releasing / re-applying / re-releasing the parking brake, gets it sorted … for a while at least.

So back to Orlando MINI again this afternoon; they’re only half an hour away, friendly, and ready with a loaner vehicle each time – but it’s honestly getting rather “not fun” to keep doing this. I’m starting to get an understanding of those MINI owners that are so infuriated with repeated failures (and many of those no doubt are much more frustrating than my car).

One bright spot this afternoon though, is that the latest loaner is electric blue, reminiscent of Ed / Maxamini and a time to re-introduce my duck to the new car (although I have to admit, this new electric blue is quite a long way from the original color!):

 

Hopefully, this latest repair attempt will be successful!

 

Not my MINI

My Clubman is back at Orlando MINI tonight due to two more repeats of the failing / jamming ebrake, and so I’ve got a four door hardtop automatic to drive. Noticeably smaller inside, with almost no legroom behind the driver seat positioned for me (doesn’t matter there’s a rear door if there’s nowhere to get in to!), but admittedly fine to drive – feels quicker than mine but perhaps just because the automatic makes me less aware of changing speed. The basic center console is a disappointment too.