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Issue 29

Our cover story for Issue 29 is MINI's all-new countryman SUV, which we have been writing about for some months now. This controversy among MINI owners and aficionados is whether or not the Countryman is truly a MINI. To some, this new vehicle has watered down the brand and made it into just another car company. Others don't quite see it that way. They like the fact that MINI is offering a 4-door of larger proportions and those that have driven one say that while the new Countryman is certainly larger, it still drives and feels like a MINI, but with a bit more body roll.  MINI held their press debut for the new vehicle in Austin, Texas and we sent our friend, Evan Griffey to the Lone Star State to partake in the press briefings, do the test drives and see whether or not this "Maxi-Mini" stays true to the form.  Evan's report provides insight on the all new 4WD model and his coverage on the 2011 MINI Countryman starts on page 25.

Leading off the editorial package this issue is a piece entitled Teutonic Twinning that was penned by our erstwhile UK Correspondent, Rob Marshall.  While roaming about the English Midlands, Rob came across Dave Tassell and his unusual 2003 Cooper S. According to Rob, Dave wasn't all that enamoured with the new MINI when it debuted in the UK back in 2001. He was a devoted fan of the original and didn't think that the German-designed MINI would cut it. All that changed, however, when he purchased a new 2005 Cooper S and found out that he loved the ride and handling. As for the power, well, it was adequate but not near enough to suite Dave's taste for torque, so he started making his own improvements, eventually getting 255 hp out of the stock S model.  Still, Dave wasn't happy, so he started looking around for a car to custom build, settling on a 2003 model that he dropped an 1800 cc turbocharged VW powerplant into. The result of the swap was gobs of power and lots of fun as Rob reports starting on page 23.

As December is the Holiday Season, our annual Holiday Gift Guide begins on page 30.  This season, we've concentrated on highlighting those small, "stocking stuffer" items that make great last minute gifts.  So whether you are looking for custom valve stems, Mini models, a cool hat, Go Pro camera, or just an MC2 coffe mug, this guide has 6 pages of gift ideas sure to make your favorite MINI or Mini fan happy. And we won't tell if you buy something for yourself as well!

They say that all good things must sooner or later come to an end and this is certainly true of MC2's Project Clubman car.  This 2008 model has been the prime focus of our build up and customization efforts for the past two years and with this issue the project is beginning to wind down. In Long Live Clubman!(page 36), publisher Barry Brazier highlights the last few mods he's making to the car. It's been fun, for sure and even though the project is winding down, there will be one or two more installments along the way, as well as an occasional update over the next year or so.  We'll still use the Clubman for how-to articles and now that it is Barry's personal car, you can expect to keep seeing it at MINI events around the nation... and even at the corner store. 

Although virtually all MC2 readers own a classic or new Mini, or both, not everyone has the deep pockets needed to make car and insurance payments, keep up on maintenance AND modify their ride.  Ron Mitchell contacted us to tell us that he has a solution for those with limited financial resources. Make it yourself.  Ron, who is an inveterate tinkerer, decided to make his own cold air box out of scap materials and a steel mesh cone air filter he bought at a swap meet.  It turns out the project was easier than he expected and cost him only $20!  That's way better than $250 or so it costs to purchase a ready made one.  Best of all, the project can be done in an afternoon with no specialized tools. It's fun, it's easy and it's Cold and Frugal. Read how to do it yourself starting on page 40.

In keeping with the Easy DIY theme, our Contributing Editor, Neil Chirico show us just how easy it is to install the FES Ian Cull Auto Up Circuit. A handy device if ever there was one, the auto up circuit (which plugs into a connector behind the stereo module) allows one-touch window operation on both windows, plus it can be used to control a garage door opener remote. Believe me when I tell you that once you install this circuit, you'll wonder how you got along without it. In Taking Control!, on page 42, Neil discusses the features and advantages of the auto up circuit and shows you how the job is done using just a Torx bit screwdriver.

In Broadcast Booth In A Clubman, publisher Barry Brazier highlights a very unique custom Clubman that he ran across in Tacoma, WA. Owned by NewTek, Inc., this unique MINI Clubman has an entire TV broadcast studio built into the back of the car, with control panels in the back seats. Cool, compact and uniquely suited for broadcasting local football games, car shows, races and other small events, the NewTek car gives us a real idea of the flexibility and ability of the Clubman. You can read about this unusual car on page 44.

On page 46 our Technical Editor, Matt Richter points out that although BMW/MINI says that the MINI is too small to make into a hybrid, using a rotary engine and the right combination of parts it is possible. In  A Rotary-Hybrid MINI? Matt discusses how such a car could have way more range than a standard MINI E without sacrificing power or handling.

In our Mini Heritage Section this issue, we start out with a story from Vilnius, Lithuania that we call The Vilnius Monster. According to Jevgenij Rudak, if you take a 1987 Vintage Mini, pull out the powertrain and install a Toyota V6 with 5-speed transmission, jack it up and add 24-inch tires, you end up with a classic Mini that is also a Monster Mini capable of taking on the incredibly deep winter snows that this Baltic country receives each year.  Editor Peter D. DuPre describes how it all went together starting on page 48.

Then, on page 52, our Senior UK Correspondent and staff historian, Graham Robson, writes about The Lost Mini Sports Cars. According to Graham, once the Mini's incredible handing became publicly known, there was a push at BMC to integrate the front-wheel drive platform into a variety of Austin and MG sporting cars. None of these ever reached the production stage, of course, but a number of them were built as styling models and experimental test mules.  Most readers will have never seen photos like these, so it is well worth reading about the history of what might have been a game changer in the 1960 -1970 sports car market.

Well, that about wraps up the editorial content of this current issue, but as they say in the informercials, "But wait, there's more!" We've also got the final Mini Crossword on page 67, Clubs and Events news starting on page 60, the MINImal Thinking, Mini Cindy, The Doctor Is In, On The Apex and the Mini Calendar, plus the latest Mini News. It's all lying there between our covers, all you have to do to get this issue is click here, or you can subscribe by clicking here. Thanks for reading and Happy Motoring ~ Peter D. DuPre, Editor-in-Chief.