We en­joy the Mini Cooper and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Drive-it Day Special The 50 Greatest Drives -

1 Daily Driv­ing

For all its clever pack­ag­ing, there’s one cru­cial trick the Mini missed that hin­ders it in day-to-driv­ing. Its boxy body and squat pro­por­tions may have lent them­selves per­fectly to a hatch­back, but the Mini was never of­fered with one, so you can’t fold the rear seats to ac­com­mo­date larger loads. There’s plenty of space in the four-seater cabin, though, and vis­i­bil­ity is ex­cel­lent – and that’s be­fore we get to the Mini’s abil­ity to squeeze into the small­est park­ing spa­ces. It’ll keep you smil­ing at the pumps too – ex­pect 35mpg at least, and con­sid­er­ably more if you aren’t press­ing on.

2 In The Ser­vice bay

The A-se­ries en­gine is easy to work on – and parts for it are easy to come by – but it’s shoe­horned into a rather cramped en­gine bay, so don’t be sur­prised if you have to re­move the ra­di­a­tor grille in order to get to some of the tricker-to-reach ar­eas. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery com­po­nent, from a rocker cover gas­ket to an en­tire new bodyshell – in­clud­ing shells for the Mki mod­els, as of this year – can be bought new and there are plenty of spe­cial­ists who can help if you’re restor­ing one. There are plenty of Mini gu­rus in the clubs who can help with ad­vice.

3 On The Show Cir­cuit

We can’t think of any clas­sic car show that wouldn’t wel­come a Mini through its gates, and 1960s Coop­ers go down par­tic­u­larly well at events like the Good­wood Re­vival (where you can also see them hum­bling far more pow­er­ful clas­sics on track). It’s also worth get­ting in touch with the Mini clubs and hav­ing a look at the events that they’re or­gan­is­ing this sum­mer – British Mini Day takes place at Him­ley Hall in the West Mid­lands on 7 May, and the Mini Cooper Reg­is­ter’s an­nual bash takes place at Beaulieu on 11 June. There are plenty of re­gional Mini clubs host­ing events, too.


The Mini’s ef­fec­tive­ness as a long-dis­tance com­pan­ion de­pends en­tirely on the vari­ant you go for. You prob­a­bly won’t want to at­tempt a cross-con­ti­nen­tal voy­age in an 850, but larger-en­gined ver­sions like our Cooper and later, more plushly trimmed Rover-era Mi­nis will make eas­ier work of long mo­tor­way jaunts. The bouncy sus­pen­sion and con­stant trans­mis­sion whine mean that it isn’t an ideal com­pan­ion for a drive to the Scot­tish High­lands or the West Coun­try, but you’ll cer­tainly have a blast once you get there.

5 The B-road Blast

Any Mini is go­ing to be ad­dic­tively good on a twisty bit of a road, the Cooper and Cooper S ver­sions es­pe­cially so. It’ll de­liver all of its on-road panache at or be­low the speed limit, so it’s easy to get a proper buzz from one with­out land­ing your­self in trou­ble with the long arm of the law. Just be­ware of hil­lier sur­round­ings – even the larger-en­gined mod­els can get flus­tered on pun­ish­ing gra­di­ents, and the drum brakes on ear­lier ver­sions can fade on the way back down again.

WHAT TO PAY // CoN­CouRS £16-20k // GooD £11-17k // uS­ABLE £8-12k // PRojECt £3-7k

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