Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Mini Story

So this was fun...
I got an email this morning from the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan asking for my Mini Story.  They had seen one of my Mini photos on flickr and wanted me to share my story.  I had to stop and go ok - yeah that's cool...

The email:
"Hi Michael

Was this your first car. Looks like there may be lots of great stories to tell.

Just came across the photo of your car and would love share the story around it. Did you like/hate it? What were your memorable moments? We’d like to include it in our social conversation as we open our new exhibit “Driving America” in Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Mich. It’s going to be the country's greatest automobile exhibition because we’re looking at cars through the lens of the people who use them. May we share yours? The links are below. You can see what others have done and share your own photo, video and story."

And my story:
I guess technically the Mini wasn't first car (that honor goes to my 1981 Honda Prelude) but it was "our" first car.  It was the first car that I owned with my partner.  It was a 2006 Mini Cooper S Checkmate (a special edition - with decals, upgraded stereo, sports interior and absolutely gorgeous wheels).

I've been obsessed with Minis for years.  When I first heard that BMW was bringing back the Mini - I became a fan!  I was prepared to beg, borrow and steal to get to the launch.  Which I didn't have to - the folks at Brisbane BMW were kind enough to let me attend the launch.  I fell instantly in love with the Mini.

So fast forward 6 years and I'm on a dinner date and I am completely blown away by my (now partner) date.  And to top it off he drove a Mini!!! It was funny I was chatting to a friend about the date the day after and I was all excited because he drove a Mini! That was the first thing I told her - she laughed at me (people tend to do that with me) and then got to the pressing business of all the questions about the actual date etc...

The Mini and I had an interesting relationship.  It was the car I actually learnt to drive a manual/stick in.  Up until that point in my life I had only ever driven automatics - I always meant to learn how to drive a manual but I now had a Mini that I could drive.  So I had to learn how to drive a manual.

There were so many country trips in the Mini - so many good memories of myself and Larry just blasting down the highway singing along to the stereo (I can't hold a tune - I seem to be tone deaf but it doesn't stop me from having fun).

Then there were also the times where I would just jump in the Mini and go for a drive.  We were very fortunate that we lived in a part of country Victoria which has some sensational roads that were just absolutely fantastic to drive the Mini along.  I really miss that - just being able to tune out and feel one with the car and the road.  Having the sunroof open, enjoying the sunshine and listening to the snap and crackle of the engine (or listening to loud music).

As Madonna sings in American Life "I drive my Mini Cooper, and I'm feeling super-dooper" - having owned a Mini I can completely relate to that.  It's the first car that I've ever owned where you would be constantly smiling.  I think they have that effect - they are so much fun to drive and they also make people smile.  There were so many times where we would get people stopping to talk to us about the car.  Generally older folks who remember  the original Mini Cooper.  I also used to love seeing kids with smiles on their faces when they saw the Mini or getting the thumbs up from them as we'd be going down the highway or the road.

Unfortunately when we moved back into the city we had to part ways with the Mini.  We couldn't really justify having two cars in the inner-city.  So after 5 years of trouble free ownership we parted company.  

I still live in hope of being able to get another Mini - we were looking at a Mini Countryman but I am trying to convince my partner that we really need a Mini Roadster.  We'll see how that goes though!