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) …


10,000 black miles

It’s taken a long time, more than 1-1/2 years, to get to 10,000 miles in Black Knight, but it happened today.

Working from home means lots less driving, and being unable to sit in the car for a few months last year (and missing MINI Takes The States) also resulted in lower mileage – but at least I got there before I finish owning this car!

Crooked Can craft brewery

Today’s MINIs Of Orlando meeting was at our new and local Plant Street Market which opened in Winter Garden a couple months ago and features various stores – and a popular craft brewery, too … I guess craft beer is attractive to MINI owners – the event was well attended (we also got a tour of the brewery, interesting!)

Oh – and I found a beer that I might like – if I drank beer (“Russian Imperial Stout“).

First service

I drove Black Knight over to Orlando MINI this morning, for it’s first service. I was a bit puzzled why the car had been insisting on the need for an oil change for the last week or two (since it’s not yet a year since I bought her), but all the MINI information says to follow the cars service recommendations.
I emailed and spoke to the dealership to book the appointment, and made clear that the service seemed early – but was told “bring it in”, so I did.

On the way to Orlando MINI, I finally reached 5,000 miles (low mileage, because of last years inability to sit and drive for a couple of months – and thus missing MTTS!).

Of course when I got to the dealership, the service writer came back and said “we can’t do the service, it’s too early”! A level of “discussion” followed, and after a while happily they decided to go ahead anyway (thanks, Garrett).
The issue was that Black Knight apparently has it’s manufacture date, not it’s sales date, to base the service decision on. It’s likely the dealership omitted to correctly set that date when they sold the car last year, so I had no qualms over “encouraging” them to follow through and complete the oil change (and avoid me another trip in a few weeks).

So, Black Knight got it’s oil change:

I’ve had zero issues in the last year so nothing else to be done, including “do not wash”; I doubt any MINI dealership is properly set up to handle the frozen paint finish, since there’s less than one car per dealership in USA!

I’ve enjoyed being back behind the wheel of a MINI this last year – the car is much more enjoyable than the BMW X3 I had before!

I sat in an F56 at the dealership today while I was waiting, and it seems more cramped than I’m used to – not surprising as the Countryman is bigger, and clearly noticeably so. The new F56 interior design is nice though; I guess we’ll see F56-style Countryman cars in a couple of years, right when I’ll be due for another car 😉

Washed for Mickey & MINI

This weekends Mickey & MINI demands that Black Knight gets washed. With sciatica making it nearly impossible to crouch down and lean forward (which it turns out is very necessary for washing a car), and with the strong summer sun and regular late afternoon rains, I’ve not washed the car since mid June! Of course the garage, and the fact that I couldn’t drive for a long while, means it was only very dirty, not horrifying!
But happily now I’m much more able to drive, and wash Black Knight, and she looks much better for it!

I’m really very happy with using Dr Beasley’s Matte Car Care Products, the shampoo is easy to use and provides a good wash and finish, and the final finish spray gives a little extra smoothness to the matte paint … I could argue that washing Black Knight with these products is easier than a regular finish, since you don’t need (in fact must not) polish it!

Welcome (back) to MINI

Surprisingly, I discovered this weekend that MINI USA still send out welcome kits, quite differently packaged to what I’ve received previously; the interesting package design is intended to be re-usable, with instructions to turn it inside out and use it as a bag:

Contents include the usual MINI pen and notebook, also a quite nice MINI flash drive and of course a copy of MINI International; also included are “adverts” for MINI insurance, MINI Performance Motoring School, MINI Financial (but I’ve already bought the car so can’t understand this one!), a Name Your MINI sticker, a quite fun 101 Fundamentals of Good Motoring booklet, and of course the Welcome Letter (sadly no longer from Jim McDowell).

Nice job, MINI USA – a good reminder of why I’m driving a MINI again.