We enjoy the Mini Thirty and put it fully to the test
1 DailY DriViNG
Any Mini derivative covers all of the daily driver essentials – fuel-economy, visibility, ease of parking, etc – such is the genius of its design. 848cc cars might struggle to keep up with modern traffic, but even they were brisk by 1959 standards. The fact that late-model Minis can still be seen in daily use by nonenthusiasts demonstrates what an easy car it is to live with. The main challenge for anyone using a Mini year-round will simply be keeping the rust at bay, an ultimately impossible task. Thorough and liberal application of Waxoyl, as well as regular washing of the underside during winter, will help to delay the inevitable, though.
2 iN tHE sErViCE BaY
All Minis – even the final, multi-point fuelinjected cars – are very simple to work on. Any owner will tell you that the difficulty with maintaining one is never the work itself, but the access – or lack thereof. The diminutive nature of the car means that everything is cramped, with removal of the grille (which is thankfully easy) a necessity for many jobs. Spares are extremely easy to get a hold of, with only more obscure specifications of older Minis requiring anything more than a quick online search. There are,however, a couple of greasing points to bear in mind, which some owners tend to overlook.
3 oN tHE sHoW CirCUit
Minis are a common sight at shows, so your car will need to have something exceptional about it to stand out. The earliest cars, especially Coopers, are naturally the most-appreciated at high-brow affairs, but many events will make exceptions in their age limits for later Minis, due to their classic-in-waiting status. The Mini scene is as large as it is varied, so any enthusiast should be able to find their own niche, whether it’s modified cars, concours, motorsport or rallying. Huge events like the London to Brighton run are a real experience, too, which you’ll struggle to get close to in terms of numbers at any other classic event.
4 tHE loNG WEEKEND
The Mini wasn’t really designed with longrange cruising in mind and as such, gearing on most of the early models makes motorway speeds a chore for both the car and its occupants. Later cars were fitted with higher gearing, however, the final BMW-produced cars even being comfortable at 70mph. If you’re patient enough to accept being one of the slowest cars on the motorway – or better yet, devise a route that sticks to A- and B-roads – however, the Mini is an enjoyable travel companion. The fuel economy will make the journey financially painless, though you’ll need to decide whether the upright driving position is something you can cope with.
5 tHE B-roaD Blast
What more is there to say here? Wheels in each corner, lightweight, fully independent suspension and a low-centre of gravity. The Mini ticks every box on the handling list and it is truly hard to think of anything more enjoyable for a spirited road when the going gets twisty. True, the Mini can struggle on poor surfaces, the rubber suspension skipping over heavily pock-marked roads, but it feels as fast as anything on moderate to good roads and the steering is second to none. No Mini is powerful enough to get you into real trouble, either – you’ll feel like you’re going too fast long before you actually are, thanks to all the feedback.