January - February '08:
Happy New Year! Yes, a new year has dawned and with comes all the hope for a prosperous 2008 and the promise of a great year for Mini owners. The long awaited North American debut of the Clubman finally happened with appearances at the Los Angeles International Auto Show and the North American International Auto Show (Detroit). So far, the buzz on public acceptance of the all-new MINI has been great, with dealers reporting a waiting list for the newest model in the MINI lineup. Expect to see it on sale at dealerships around the country mid February.
News of the Clubman isn't the only thing on the slate for this year. Later in the year you can expect to see the first press photos and impressions of the new MINI Cabrio and probably some firmed up drawings/photos of the all-new MINI SAV, set to debut in 2010. Shots of a test mule have been seen on a number of websites and the word on the street is that it will be called the Crossman. Don't believe everything you see or hear, just yet. The name of the new sport utility/sports activity vehicle hasn't been finalized, nor has the design. Test mule photos snapped in Germany show a thinly disquised Clubman with a raised stance but our sources tell us that the new SAV will feature an all-new and unique body design (With the now famous MINI front end styling), four doors, all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine. Time will tell, however, so stay tuned to this website and MC2 Magazine for all the latest and most accurate details. But enough conjecture, what you really want to know is what's in issue 12. Here is a brief account of this issue's contents:
As you can see by the cover, this issue features an all-new logo that is more in keeping with a publication entering its third year of production, and we hope, a bit more noticeable as well. This issue, however, features a lot more than just a new logo. We've also included a fold-out, two-sided, poster-sized calender for you to hang on your wall and packed the issue full of interesting stories about Minis and their owners. The cover story this month is about Floridian Bob Schwartz's unique jet-turbine powered MINI. As the cover photo show, this little barn stormer is One Hot MINI; it runs the quarter mile in the low eleven-second range at speeds in the high 120 mph range, and best of all, it is street legal. Bob had the turbine installed in the rear cargo area and it works in conjunction with the stock Cooper S engine under the hood. This Bad Ass Cooper is real sleeper and scads of fun to drive, it was all captured on film by Bruce W. Smith and the story begins on page 28.
The cover inset is also a one-of-a-kind Mini. It once belonged to actor/racer Steve McQueen and had long ago disappeared from the public eye. Recently, however, Lee Brown discovered the car hidden in the LA area and purchased it. Lee orginally did all the custom interior and paint work on the car for McQueen and book author Matt Stone (McQueen's Machines: The cars and bikes of a Hollywood Icon) managed to coax Lee into letting him shoot it for us. Matt's story on McQueen's Mini begins on page 24 and has lots of interesting photos and background information about the King of Cool's '67 Cooper S.
Next up, our Senior European Correspondent, Graham Robson, presents a detailed biography on the designer of the original Mini, in Alec Issigonis, Father of the Mini (page 32). In his usual erudite style, Graham points out that while virtually every Mini owner knows that Issigonis designed the famous car, few really know the whole story behind the genius of this famous automotive designer. Graham delvels deeply into the early career of this automotive industry giant, discusses his early designs and problems that eventually lead to his penning the drawings on a truly unusual automobile.
If you are Looking for Adventure,- The Rest of the Story you have to read Gary Anderson's piece 0n page 36 about a father/son team racing in the 2007 La Carrera Panamericana in their 2005 Cooper S. We covered the preparation of this vehicle by Colin and Eric Herrick last issue. This month, its off to Mexico as we follow their adventures in one of the great modern road races. The Herricks entrace of a virtually stock MINI was unparalled and unlike most the other racers, our adventursome duo drove the car to Mexico from the San Francisco Bay Area, raced it and then went back home. This was their first time entering a rally at this level and the unassuming duo finished 4th overall in the Unlimited Class. Truly an herioc effort for the first time out. Of course, the modern La Carrera Panamericana has only been around about 20 years, but it pay homage to the original race of the same name that ran from 1950 through 1954. Racing back in those days was a lot different than racing in La Carrera today (No Minis, for one thing). If you'd like to get a taste of how things used to be back in days of yore, you'll definitely want to read, The Way It Was by Boyd Harnell starting on page 40. Boyd offers a blow-by-blow description of the 1954 race from the perspective of one who was actually there. It's thrilling reading and puts today's race into an historical perspective.
Owner's of MINIs are people who like to drive and see the country side and this month our UK Correspondent, Rob Marshall, decided to take a farewell tour of ancient Britain in a current generation cabrio. In Wroxter's Roman Ruins (page 44), Rob takes a Sidewalk Edition Cooper S out to some of the most ancient Roman ruins in England and along the way he waxes poetic about the cabrio, visits an old church, stops in at a winery, and give all us Yanks the proper low down on touring the Midlands. Then on page 58, MC2 readers Jack and LInda Grouell take their 2005 Cooper S drop top on a cross-country tour From Corner To Corner. This adventursome Washington State couple decided to buy a gently used Cooper in Florida and drive it back to Washington. They officially started their trip in Key West, Florida and ended in it in Point Roberts, Washington and along the way they racked up 5,000 miles and enough adventure and good times to last them the rest of their lives. Like I said earlier, MINI owners are people who love to drive.
Our classic Mini feature this month is a photo essay of Pooh and Honey Pot, a prize winning car and trailer combo owned by Canadian Rick Higgs. This 1979, banana yellow and black Mini has been a hit at Mini meets, bringing home award after award. What makes it so unique is that that apart from being virtually perfect, Rick and the Mrs. drive this little car about 7,500 miles a year to and from Mini meets across North America, and they stow most their gear in a a matching trailer that is constructed from bits of scrapped Minis. It's a stunning restoration and customization shot by editor Peter D. DuPre. Read the saga of Rick's restoration beginning on page 48.
Over the past few years, MINIs have done quite well competiting in SCCA Showroom Stock but this past year saw severe rules changes that put most MINIs out of the winners box. Still, despite the rules changes, there are a still a few hardcore racers out there giving their all for the MINI legacy and in You Can't Win 'Em All (page 52) Jeff Zurschmeide tells how a few plucky MINI enthusiasts raced against long odds at the 2007 SCCA Nationals.
Since this is the winter issue, editor Peter D. DuPre tells you everything you need to know when Choosing Tires for Winter Driving (page 54). Winter conditions on the roadways mean that traction tires are probably necessary, but which types are best? Well, it all depends on where you drive and how bad the conditions are. You may need all-season treads or possibly snow tires. This piece gives you the information you need to make an intelligent decision and also provide readers with some winter driving tips that will help make your cold weather driving a little safer.
Over in Cooper's Garage, publisher Barry Brazier writes about installing custom cabinetry that is guaranteed to make your garage a special place. Barry chose Red Line Garage Gear for this project and this first installment discusses the things you need to know before you pick up a hammer and nail, plus he details the heavy-duty construction aspects of the Red Line cabinets. If you've always wanted a custom garage, this feature is the place to start. Learn the basics starting on page 56.
If there is one thing every Cooper S owner needs to know about it is clutches. Performance driving and a heavy clutch foot means that most MINI clutches wear out sooner than expected. Technical editor, Matt Richter tells all in Hooking Up - Clutch Fundamentals and Modifications (page 60). Everything from how a clutch works to what you need to know to get the best performing set up is covered, plus Matt hits on the hight points of clutch installation for the do-it-yourself minded reader. This really is a job for your professional mechanic, but thanks to Matt's concise verbage, at least now you'll be able to discuss the matter inteligently with your paid wrench.
Also on the DIY side is Rock the Casbah!(page 70), a how-to install the MINI iPod Interface by Design Editor Stephan McKeown and Henry Smith. The MINI iPod Interface is one of the most popular MINI projects for the DIYer, but as Stephan points out, MINI electric systems do not take lightly to poorly done modifications. In this step-by-step photo essay, Stephan shows you how it is done and provides tips that promise to make your iPod Interface install trouble free.
Finally, there is all the usual stuff. Barry, Peter, Cindy, Graham and Matt all pen their usual columns, there's reader's rides, letters to the editor, Club News and Events, the MINI Calendar and The Last Word. In short, this first issue of 2008 is jam packed with tons of interesting articles, how-to information and loads of MINI reading fun. We hope you enjoy it.
Peter D. DuPre, Editor