This is the one. This is the little menace that started it all. Back in 2009, just prior to the official dealership opening in El Paso, the other dealers in town scooped up every MINI they could find at auction and put them out on their used car lots. I suppose they were trying to get a feel for what impact a new brand in town would have on the market.
This little guy was one of three on this particular lot I found. He wasn’t the newest or the oldest. He wasn’t the cheapest or the most expensive. He certainly didn’t have the lowest miles of the three either. However, we was NOT an automatic and had the original classic styling that drew me to MINI to begin with. The ride was rough but I figured it was a good time to have a “Project Car”. He wasn’t to be the daily as we already had a Ford “Sport Trac” and a Jeep Patriot. This was just for the weekends and tooling around here and there.
Right out of the gate, new tires and ball joints were in order. Followed by a control arm to rid the car of that awful sound coming from the front when making a right turn. Then some fun stuff like Checkered Mirror caps and A disc changer to iPod connecter was added to keep the tunes flowing. Dreams of a reducer pulley and exhaust system were put on hold when the clutch went out though. But what do you expect from a 88,000 mile MINI?
We loved the f*%k out of that car! We really did! The “go-kart handling”, the whine of the supercharger, it seemed like the fastest car ever! (it wasn’t, but don’t tell my fond memories that) Even with all the repairs it was needing and the phantom opening of the boot at the most inopportune times, we couldn’t have loved a car anymore than we did this one.
It was a conversation starter in every parking lot across the city. What is it? Who makes it? Where can you get one? The classic looks turned heads everywhere we took it. From the classic Muscle Car guys and the Harley Riders to the co-eds and young professionals, everyone had something say.
But alas, our love of this car needed to be transferred to a more viable solution. The Ford and Jeep we once had got traded in for a Wrangler and the MINI became my daily. Plus, the prospect of MINI Takes The State 2010 was just around the corner and there was no way we could do an extended road trip to Colorado in the least reliable vehicle in our driveway. We parted ways with the R53 and got a 2010 R55. The Clubman was a more suitable chariot for our 4 person family, but nothing could ever replace the original R53 MINI Cooper S Hardtop!
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