FIVE TRI­ALs

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

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Nec Show Star Driven -

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.

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