The Vince Story
My first encounter with a Mini was when a friend of the family turned up one day in a little blue car with sliding windows, and then offered to take my brother and I who were about 8 at the time, out ifor a spin in it. We had great fun driving it around a field, it was so easy to drive.
Fast forward almost 20 years and my next encounter was on the southbound M5 stuck in traffic where I was in a Renault 25, and in the next lane was a BL Mini , he and I were both crawling along at 5mph and I recall thinking, this is crazy, I have a big car, big fuel bill, big insurance bill and I’m going no faster than the guy in the Mini but he has a smile on his face as though he’s enjoying the drive. It was at that point I thought, I need to get a Mini.
It just so happened that in the local car trader magazine a number of Mini’s where advertised for sale, the pictures looked good so along I went to investigate.
I knew precious little about Mini’s or cars in general at the time, (and still don’t truth be told), however, the car I was interested in had just had a full restoration with reconditioned sub-frames etc. There were probably lots of other important details that the seller was going on about but I was transfixed with the awesome black paintwork, leather seats, and wood dash. It was perfect. At least for a week so, then I eventually learned about A panels, how to skin knuckles on dizzy caps, repair gear linkages… you get the idea, the list goes on, eventually with commuting to London the need for a car disappeared and so did my black Mini.
Another leap forward in time and I found myself returning from working in Malta for a number of years and relocating to West London, or more accurately Hersham. Work was just down the A3 in Wimbledon so although the train goes to the door of the office we also have a car park so the option for a new car arrived.
I wanted a car that wasn’t too big, was fun, relatively economical, had lots of style and reliable. When you add that lot together you get a very short list although I accept the cars on that list are very subjective.
This is where it gets a bit contentious as when I looked at new MINI I soon discovered not all New shape Mini are the same. Now the fact you’re reading this here may make that comment seem like a “statement of the obvious”, but for me it was all very confusing at first.
First question: should I get a new car, answer - there were some good looking new models but they all seemed much bigger than some of the Mini’s I had seen, and the shape had moved on a bit, even the 3 door was bigger than I wanted.
What about nearly new, this was a real option and a number of R56 where tested but again they seemed a little odd to me with their slight ‘rump’ and to my eye odd front end.
By this time I’d found a copy of 'Modern MINI magazine and learned of the earliest model the R50/2/3, which had the shape I wanted. The challenge would be to find an 'old' car in good condition.
Well, in January 2016 I found a car, and when I bought her I knew she would need a little bit of work, but most of it looked superficial. How bad can a 15 year old car with only 43,000 miles on the clock be?