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I love my Mini. I never thought I would love a car but in this review I will explain why! I've only just passed my driving test at the grand old age of 25 and my boyfriend's car is an old Mini-she is a Mini 35, built in 1994 and has 1.3/1275cc engine whatever that means! She is 'Pearlescent Nevada Red.' We got me insured on the very same day I passed my test and I nervously learnt to drive her...
I'm not going to drone on about the full history of the Mini but will touch on it briefly. In 1956 during the Suez Crisis petrol prices rocketed. A more fuel economic car was needed. Thus the Mini was born. The first Mini was sold in 1959 and made by BMC which then became Rover. That's another thing I like about the Mini-it's a proper British car. Over the years many different types have been made, again, I'm not going to go into detail as you can Google that yourself! Anyway, production ended in the year 2000. There are new 'MINI'S' but these are made by BMW and not really Mini's at all! My mum has one, they are lovely cars though but I'll stick with mine!
Where to buy one and how much will it cost me I can hear you ask? Just have a look on the internet, they aren't as cheap as I thought-£1400-£5000 for one like mine! 1000 were made, I looked on the internet and found that less than 400 Mini 35's are left on the road in 2011.
Ours was very kindly lent to us by my boyfriend's grandparents. Granddad used to work for Rover and various cousins have Mini's too. The boyfriend had a Mini that he restored with his Granddad when he first learnt to drive and passed his test aeons ago. Lovely red Mini made out of other Mini's but not the most reliable car even though he used to drive it to and from University in Wales back home, a good 4 hour journey that often featured a breakdown. That was my first experience with a Mini so I was a bit nervous when we first got ours.
Driving a Mini isn't the same as a driving school car. I couldn't get the hang of her at first and cried during my first ever drive! You need to keep the foot on the accelerator or she likes to kangaroo down the road-uncomfortable and embarrassing! There is no 5th gear either. She corners really nicely and she is fun to drive like a go-cart. Other road users are generally nice to you and other Mini drivers wave at you so it's like being in a fun club. The driving seat doesn't move forward so it's a matter of fiddling with the seat back to get in a decent driving position as I feel I'm sat quite far back. My foot used to ache too but I've got used to it now. Another thing is the noise which took me ages to get used to-she is very noisy and you are also sat down really low to the ground. There is no power steering but she is small and light so it's not too bad. Oh and I should mention she has a manual choke which took me a while to get used to. My boyfriend says she is impossible to stall but I disagree with that!
Mini's are cheap to fill up (£20 for a full tank which is still stupidly expensive in these high fuel times! ) have a good fuel economy and are quite cheap to insure and road tax. Maintenance may be a slight problem depending on age and condition of the car. We are lucky to have Granddad to help us and fix her. Had a loose fan belt recently which he fixed for us. She passed her MOT first time this year too which is great although Mini's are known for failing on emissions which can be easily fixed or so I'm told.
We had some problems last year with slow punctures on all the tyres-due to having second hand tyres, got some new ones fitted and touch wood she has been fine since. We do keep an eye on the tyres as the wheels are old they are prone to flaking off and making slow punctures apparently. We have an automatic tyre pump in the car if we need to use it. Worse case scenario is having the wheel 'refurbished' and then having a new type put on. The wheels do tend to deflate anyway over a period of time.
The battery went flat too but again, it was second hand anyway, got a brand new one and she's fine now, again, touch wood! My boyfriend has driven her in the snow, she took a couple of tries to start but then she was fine.
We keep her in the garage for security (and lower car insurance) and to keep her dry and warm but I try to drive her as much as possible now as she is a car that likes to be driven. I would always advise keeping them in a garage if you can.
Inside the car she is small and cramped. We have a radio with a special device to connect to an iPod. No room for a Sat-Nav and apparently this would be a pain to get fitted with one? So I have to rely on using my head to drive and read the road signs. The boot is tiny and the back 2 seats don't have much room. No air conditioning of course!
Mini's are not known to be the safest cars ever. I have heard many stories of drivers walking away with minor injuries and the Mini still being fixable. I have heard one story where a man crashed his Mini, Mini was a write off and the guy spend some time in ICU with broken bones and internal bleeding but he is fine apparently now and still drives Mini's! It does add to the general excitement that you could potentially die at any time. I drive safely and try not to crash.
I would heartily recommend a Mini to anybody. It's such a fun car if you keep it well maintained and drive sensibility. I think mine has been a great first car for me as you really do have to drive them as opposed to sitting back and going into auto pilot. People randomly flash me on busy roads to let me out and want to talk about Mini's with you if you park up next to an interested person in a car park. I feel quite 'cool' in a Mini driving along with James Blunt on my Ipod blaring out (my boyfriend has just said I am very UNCOOL for liking James Blunt.) I suppose they are quite 'Green' but if I was to be really green I'd cycle everywhere and I can't even ride a bike so that isn't going to happen.
Some famous Mini owners: The Beatles, Mark Bolan (well his girlfriend had one, he died in a Mini crash...) Kate Moss, David Bowie, Rowan Atkinson, Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon, Jenny Agutter, Mary Quant, Liam Gallagher, Lulu.
The Mini in Popular Culture: The Mini has been in films such as The Italian Job, The Bourne Identity and Mr Bean.
The bottom line-buy a Mini, don't crash it and ENJOY it. They are super little cars if you look after them.
*Update* We had a slight problem recently with the water pump basically dying but fair cop it was 18 years old! My boyfriend's grandpa came and fitted a new one. It really is useful having someone to help you with your Mini or be able to fix problems yourself as even the occasional garage fee can cost a couple of hundred pounds. This is my first winter driving Mini so hoping she behaves herself!