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 …


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) …



I was wondering today what the Audi Q5 average MPG is – recently it’s on-board computer has been showing figures as high as 27mpg for my easy drive home from work (a bit lower to work in the morning, when the engine is cold).

So … on 2,305 miles at 111 gallons, the Q5 averages 20.8mpg. Not great, but comfortable!

And seeing I have spreadsheets for my MINIs too (except GBMINI#1), let’s compare:
GBMINI#2: 28,676 miles, 1058 gallons -> 27.1mpg
GBMINI#3: 23,803 miles, 902 gallons -> 26.4mpg (not so much of a hit, really, for an automatic!)
GBMINI#4: 28,599 miles, 1049 gallons -> 27.3mpg (I always claimed GPMINI was more economical, there’s the proof!)
GBMINI#5: 716 miles, 25.2 gallons -> 28.4mpg (Of course an average on so few miles isn’t very indicative, but 4% better than my GP isn’t close to the claimed improvements of the “Prince” engine, and no way justifies the downsides!)
GBMINI#6: 6,747 miles, 256 gallons -> 26.3mpg (not much of a hit for the convertible, either)

I know other MINI owners get much worse mpg (and doubtless some get better) – but these figures are pretty comparable since it’s the same driver doing largely the same driving on the same routes!

Five years ago

Today, five years ago, I first drove a MINI Cooper – a test drive from MINI of Peabody! My “Motoring Advisor” was Joel – and five years later he still works there 🙂

Within a week I had ordered an MCS, but by the end of May 2002 I had realized I couldn’t wait nine months, and had found, test drove and purchased the demo MINI Cooper from Herb Chambers MINI – GBMINI#1:

Back in those days, I had no website, no digital camera, and no MINI friends – I didn’t join MINICooperOnline (now NorthAmericanMotoring) till mid May 2002, and didn’t join MINI2 till the end of June … I was a total MINI newbie 🙂

Early days driving the MINI were lots of fun, and lots of looks (it was very rare back in mid 2002!), but I think I would have gone back to a more “normal” car if it wasn’t for the wonderful MINI community that I discovered … I simply can’t list all the great friends I now have, but people like Jason, Jayson & Gavin who were at my first ever MINI meet and are like me still driving MINIs, and Steve who left MINI (for Subaru) but couldn’t resist the pull of MINI world and recently rejoined us 🙂

Then there’s also Gary, Scott & Kevin who worked at MINI of Peabody and came on that first drive – and still work at the dealership too, who I also consider to be great friends 🙂

I hope everyone has as much MINI fun & friendship as I do – and THANKS to all my MINI friends for making the last five years such a fun time!

Big Rocks

Near the British Invasion field in Stowe, VT is Smugglers Notch; a twisty road winds up into hills and gets very narrow through some huge boulders … back in 2002 I drove there in my first MINI and took a picture of the car in front of a rock which made it look like a toy!
Finally this year I remembered to repeat the picture, this time with GPMINI:

Here’s the original picture I took, back in 2002:


Unfortunately on my way home from British Invasion, I had an encounter with another rock, not so big but big enough to do this to the windshield:

(since GPMINI doesn’t have rain sensing wipers, maybe I’ll try PPG glass this time …)

First comparison – MCS against MC

Drove in to work this morning in the new MCS – interesting to note differences with my previous MC.

I *love* the way the engine revs itself momentarily to 2000+ rpm when I start it; sounds like it is saying “lets go”! Do all MCS do this?

I found the ride LESS harsh than my old MC! Both have 16″ runflats, but the new MCS seemed to handle the gentler bumps and mini potholes better than I expected. Big potholes are still awful and skip the CD, but so far the ride seems a little more comfortable (maybe it is the leather seats?)

I also found much more low end torque – I noticed that I was not shifting out of fourth when driving through town, even when taking a turn, and the engine was not struggling. Pleasingly better!

Still unsure about the HK.
I had aftermarket rear speakers in my MC and they gave a really full sound to the car – I am sure if I had changed the front speakers too, I would think that HK was significantly worse.
As it is, the HK sounds very good through the front speakers, but the rears are almost as empty as the stock – there is no high end to the rear speakers, so you cannot really surround yourself in music.
However, the HK does seem to open the sound field, and the “DRIVER” mode might help with filling the car but I am not yet used to it.

The Lapis interior and anthracite look much better than my old MC – but I have *GOT* to get rid of that airbag sticker!