It happened again. Today, as I was filling my Mini Cooper S Roadster with petrol (after all, British cars use petrol, not gas!), a woman whom I do not know walked up to me and exclaimed, “That’s the cutest car I have ever seen!”. I thanked her and continued what I was doing. She began walking around the car, asking me all about it, including what color it is (British Racing Green, of course!), and various other questions. She then described her fondness for a car her late father had, told me several other details of her life, then commented again about how wonderful it must be to drive a Mini Cooper with a convertible top, before wishing me well. Like most people, I have owned many cars, including a Corvette and a couple of Jaguars, but never, ever, have I experienced the love of strangers like I do, on a regular basis, when driving my Mini Cooper. I have been accosted in parking lots, more times than I can count, by people who want to ask questions about the Mini or tell me what a fantastic car it is. Police officers regularly wave and smile at me when I am driving the Mini. People always let me out in heavy traffic, while waving and sometimes, yelling out of their car window about how much they like my car. When I am driving the Mini with the convertible top open, children playing nearby run out to the street to wave, motorcyclists pull up close to ask how fast it goes (answer: fast!), and other motorists turn down their hip hop music to compliment me on my car. One person, whom I know only casually, happened to see me driving in a parking lot and asked if she could pose for photographs (to be taken by me) in my car! I happily agreed and she still thanks me for accommodating her request. The Mini Cooper seems to have a unique power to bring a smile to people’s faces, in ways I could never have imagined when I bought it! Now that Mini is owned by BMW, it has become a more reliable car than its predecessor. However, there are several fun things that have nothing to do with its operation that some clever person designed: (1) it has an “Open-O-Meter,” which counts the hours and minutes the convertible top has been opened; (2) when driven in “Sport” mode, it makes backfiring noises that serve no purpose except to sound cool; (3) it has interior lights that can be programmed to change in a psychedelic pattern while serving no other function in illuminating the interior of the car; and (4) new owners of Mini Coopers are encouraged to name them, then register their name and place a name tag on the inside of the driver’s door. (My Mini Cooper’s name is one of John Lennon’s pseudonyms, “Dr. Winston O’Boogie.”) All in all, driving a Mini Cooper S Roadster is more fun than I ever anticipated!
Melissa has always had fun, fast, cars since we met. When we met, she drove a bright red Camaro – with a manual transmission that took me sometime to learn, though never master. Next was a black Corvette which she drove for 25 years – keeping the Vette mechanic happy along the way. Jumping to her decision to buy the Mini, we looked at lots of options and researched available convertibles in the process. The Mini was unique in its size, performance, and marketing. BMW/Mini has had fun with its approach to these cars with the features she mentioned. Hers is very small, though when we were in the U.K. recently and came across a vintage Mini – hers suddenly seemed much larger. When she drove the Vette, there was a tendency for other Vette drivers to wave to each other. I recently read that Jeep drivers do the same. The Mini gets waves and more. She wanted this car to make our (short) commutes a little bit fun – and she got that. But, she got more than she bargained for – in a good way for once – with the Mini. What will she find next?