The Mini-Cooper has become a stalwart of the American vintage racing scene. Relatively low cost and availability of parts have made the Mini a common site on small displacement production car grids across the country.
Photo: Art Eastman
We all have choices to make in life. When we make good choices, life is good. Conversely, it can be hell when we make bad ones. Obviously, some choices are much more important than others, with critical and long-term results, as in the case of mates and cars. Now, I’m not saying that cars are as important as mates, but to those of us who are certifiably exhaust pipe retentive (and I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you know what I mean), cars play a great role in our life experience. Fortunately, my last choices in both categories were good ones. Proof positive is that they were made, respectively, 20 years (the mate) and 30 years (the car) ago and in all that time, though God knows I’ve certainly given both ample reasons, neither my wife nor my Mini-Cooper has tried to kill me.
I made the first of these choices with great trepidation. I’d read about Mini-Coopers and several friends had told me about what a kick they were to drive. Thing is, while Minis were undeniably cute, and by reputation, quite quick, they were front drive. Now, to someone who was then racing twin-engine karts (wonderful, opposite-lock oversteering beauties that they were), the whole idea of understeer was enough to make me gag. The first ride I ever had in a Mini did nothing to change my mind.
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