Sonora Run - Sunday June 9, 2024

Your Host(s) for the Event: Paige Lane Route: https://maps.app.goo.gl/tGNYaz7VcvVDeXPLA Download the map for off-line use  - in case we lose...

Happy New Year!

NorCal MINIs wishes you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year. We will see you all in 2009! Keep the rubber side down.

The Oldest MINI Owner Is In Pleasanton

Inside Bay Area reports that 4 ft. 10 inch, 83-year old Adele Roth of Pleasanton, CA, is the oldest person ever to purchase a new MINI. Just before Christmas Ms. Roth received her silver automatic with paddle shifters. Look out for her - she's awaiting her personalized license plate that, when read, will be as close as possible to "Last Hurrah."

What do you say NorCal MINIs? Should we find Adele and make her an honorary member?

Motor Trend's Edward Loh Calls 2009 MINI Clubman S His Love Child

Motor Trend's writers have published their 2008 guide to cars that their writers loved. These are not the fastest, plushest, most expensive or best value. Rather, the cars are the ones these professional automotive writers simply loved.

Senior Editor Edward Loh chose the 2009 MINI Clubman S, and characterized his love affair as:

. . . a rush of smashed inhibitions and highly irresponsible behavior that came from driving the right car on the right road.

While we here at NorCal MINIs are MINI Fanatics, we might be persuaded to love the late James Coburn's 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Spyder, but then again, we don't have $10.9 million to purchase it at auction. We might be just able to afford the Clubman S base at about $24,100.

Cited For Speeding?

Amazing story out of Baltimore, Maryland, reported by WJZ-TV. Check out the video, it follows after the advertisement. Better watch your speed when ordering fast food!

State Police have been quite active this holiday season. Even when they are not pulling people over in the drive-thru lane of the local Taco Bell, they are pulling over women Indy drivers, like Danica Patrick, for speeding.

8 Year Old Guitar Phenom

One of our favorite charitable organizations is Guitars not Guns, a 501(c)3 not for profit that provides guitars and guitar lessons to foster children and at-risk youth. This video was sent to us by the San Francisco chapter President. The kid is 8 years old - enjoy:

MINI 2008 and 2009

MotoringFile has listed the top ten best MINI stories of 2008. Despite the dismal economic outlook for 2009 MINI expects at least a 1% increase in sales. Virtually every other established car manufacturer expects significant losses in 2009.

We Will Know What You Are Eating, Where You Are Going And What to Charge You For It

Reducing dependence on foreign oil has some unusual and unexpected consequences.

One consequence is it has released the imagination of scientists. For example, most tires are created with petroleum based fillers to increase tensile strength. Gas 2.0 reports that the Agricultural Research Service, the scientific research arm of the USDA, is investigating the use of defatted soy flour as an alternative to the petroleum fillers. (We wonder whether hot pavement will produce miso soup.) Yup, we can reduce petroleum consumption and end world hunger through the use of soy tires. (When they fail do you get soba noodles?)

Because Americans are driving less government is receiving less in gasoline taxes. As the US weens itself from oil these taxes will fall further. Thus, governmental entities are floating ideas on how to replace the lost tax revenue.

The federal government, California and Michigan are discussing raising the amount of the gasoline tax to offset the lost income arising from lower gas sales. Oregon, however, sees this as an incomplete solution since the volume of gasoline sales will continue to drop as auto manufacturers bring alternative fuel vehicles to market. Thus, Oregon has proposed, and is seeking to implement, a "Pay As You Go" plan which will track your vehicle by GPS or other means and send you a tax bill based on the number of miles driven. It appears that tire manufacturers may be ready to help implement a "Pay As You Go" plan. Advanced ID Corporation is promoting RFID tags for car tires to allow individual vehicle mileage tracking.

Big Brother is here folks and he is embedded in your tofu tires!

Driving A Ferrari On The Autobahn In Stilletos

Need we say more?

Smaller and Greener

Motorauthority believes the US is primed for a resurgence in minicars. Ford is ready to introduce the Ka, which is smaller than a Fiesta. You can also expect Fiat to bring its 500 city car to our shores. There is also the possibility that Opel will import the Corsa, Toyota will introduce the iQ, and Volkswagen will offer the Polo. Even Mercedes is looking at the introduction of a minicar.

The minicar electric Tango EV, half the width of an ordinary vehicle, is no slouch in traction or torque. It can be used as a snowplow:

Plans for construction of green electric highways so that electric non-polluting vehicles can go long distances, and to remove our dependence on foreign oil, are proposed by CleanTechnica.com - solar panels along all of our highway right of ways. Another green technology for transportation doesn't involve cars at all - it is dog power.

It will not be easy to break Americans dependence on gas. What is probably the best indicator of this is the most downloaded iPhone software during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, netting its creator over $40,000.00 in two days - iFart.


In case you missed it, here in motoringfun.com's day in 2007 with a 2006 MCS @ Daytona. Quite enjoyable watching the MCS pass various Audis from the local Audi Club and a Corvette!

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

A Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that is as poignant today as it was when it was first published 15 years ago.

MINI Crossover Debut

Autoblog and BMW Blog reported today that the MINI Crossover will likely debut in September 2009 at the Frankfurt Germany Auto Show. Of course, this depends on the existence of the automobile industry through September.

What Did Santa Forget?

So Christmas is over. The good china has been put away. All the presents have been opened. Are there still a few things you wish you had received? How about a SkidCar Driving Class?

Better, yet, how about a trip to Männerspielplatz? We'd just love to play with the big toys.

What Did The Elves Get?

Yesterday, many of you awoke to Christmas cheer, presents under the tree, and your little elves, adrenaline and sugar filled, impatient to see what Santa brought them. 

It is also the time of year that parents and relatives give the elves their first real mode of transportation.  Call it what you will, but many of the little tikes just got their first pedal car, big wheel and/or tricycle.  So watch out as your drive out there, there are a lot of inexperienced elves on the roads.  Especially watch out for these Morgan tricycles while roaming through Blackhawk, Hillsborough or London.


Time Saved Driving Fast

The Truth About Cars posted this table from DrivetheSpeedlimit.net that shows how much time you save based on the amount of time you spend driving over 55 mph:

How much time would these 20 jet powered vehicles save?

Be Glad Cows Don't Fly

Hope you are having a better holiday season than the owners of the BMW and Hummer in this video news story (the Hummer deserved it):


Have Yourself A MINI Little Christmas

Thank you MINIBee! And the same to all Club Members, Readers, Relatives and Friends -

Classic Mini 50: Party In The Smokies

Next year will be the 50th Anniversary of the classic Mini.  So from April 22 through April 25, 2009, Classic Mini United will hold "Classic Mini 50: Party In The Smokies" in Townsend, TN.  In the British tradition of car camping the headquarters for the 3-day weekend will be the Townsend Great Smokies KOA campground with sites for tents and RV's. For more information visit Classic Mini United's website

Breaking News! Santa Asks Congress For Bailout

THX 1138 - Are We Almost There?

The 1971 George Lucas sci-fi thriller THX 1138, set in the 25th century, centers around a man and a woman who rebel against their rigidly controlled society. The human race has been relocated to a underground city located beneath the Earth's surface. In the underground city, the population is entertained by holographic TV which broadcasts sex and violence and  a robotic police force enforces the law. In the underground city, society controls all life, all citizens are drugged to control their emotions and their behavior and sex is a crime. Factory worker THX-1138 stops taking the drugs and he breaks the law when he finds himself falling in love with his room-mate LUH 3417 and is imprisoned when LUH 3417 is pregnant.  Escaping from jail with illegal programmer SEN 5241 and a hologram named SRT, THX 1138 goes in search of LUH 3417 and escapes to the surface, whilst being pursued by robotic policemen. 

Well, when we read these three items it got us thinking how prescient George Lucas may have been:

Apparently Arizona has decided it is the officer's choice, not the detainee's choice, whether to use a breathalyzer, urine sample or blood sample. (We have real concern over possible abuse.  Let us see - "Yes, your Honor. He attempted to resist so I put him on the ground and handcuffed him face down.  As I handcuffed him I smelled alcohol so I stuck him with a hypodermic needle to draw blood.  The first four sticks were unsuccessful.").   Would you want a police officer to take blood from you in the field, with no witnesses and without proper medical supervision?
The Posse Comitatis Act, a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385), generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act. (Seems to us the CHP/USMC "partnership" in local roadblocks is illegal and just one step away from a police state.)

The project is supposedly to create a robotic soldier that won't commit "war crimes". (I wonder whether they can be programmed to draw your blood?)

So you see, 38 years after THX 1138 debuted, a world of robotic military personnel roaming our streets and enforcing our drug laws is not that far off.

Even Rally Drivers Need To Slow Down In The Twisties

We wonder whether a competent MINI driver would have fared any better -

Vigilante Santas Obscure Tempe Speed Cameras

The Arizona speed camera vigilante story continues.  Now even Santa and his helpers are getting into the act and here's a video that proves it!.

How Fast Was That Black Car Going?

We sportscar drivers dream of driving the Autobahn with unbridled speed.  Here is a video from the point of view of a guy on the Autobahn cruising at about 100+ mph.  Though, you have to ask, how fast was that black car going?


It Must Be True. I Saw It In The Newspaper

I'll Have My Blacktop Medium Rare

The headquarters of Tones Spices is located in Ankeny, Iowa. Tones had to get rid of 18,000 pounds of garlic salt and came up with a great idea.  Donate it to the City of Ankeny.  Ankeny accepted the donation and has been using the garlic salt to clear roads of snow and ice.

We can see it now.  "Here's a potato Johnny.  Go roll it around on the street and, when you're done, we'll make garlic fries!" 

Make Yourself Useful Lardass!

There are good alternative fuel ideas and there are bad ones.  However, some are just plain icky.

Forbes reports (courtesy of Gizmodo) that Dr. Craig Allen Bittner, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, asserts he has been using the excess human fat he removes from patients through liposuction to fuel his SUV.  Then again, he recently shutdown his practice and moved to South America.  So we would take this story with a modicum of suspicion.  

There is something both gross and intriguing about the concept.  It probably wouldn't work in India or Africa, but may be just the thing for the US.  You eat as much as you want, get sucked every so often, and run your car for virtually nothing.  Gives a whole new meaning to words such as "organic" and "biodegradeable."  

What could be more eco-friendly and be better for your health?  Yes, a skinny nation of gluttons all in the name of energy independence. 

Tragic Story From Up North

Send In The Clones

First the UK had speed and red light cameras.  Then, Arizona installed them to balance their budget.  As we reported, vigilantes have burned, batted and blown up the cameras in the UK. Vigilantes in Arizona have found a less violent way to protest and have placed Post-it notes over the cameras.  

Now, the cameras are in Maryland and people there have figured a way to avoid tickets from the cameras and make unwitting victims.  They print copies of the victim's license plate on shiny paper, attach the copies to their own cars over their own license plates and, then, they flaunt the speed and red light laws.  The victim gets sent the ticket because, in most cases, the government doesn't match the license plate number to the make and model of the vehicle.  Even when it does, many times vigilantes have used the license plate from same type and color of vehicle as their own.

You don't have to participate in this scam to benefit from it should you get a camera ticket.  Criminal law requires that the government prove the criminal infraction beyond a reasonable doubt.  If, due to these scams, a reasonable doubt can be raised regarding whether it was you or your vehicle that committed the traffic violation, the Court should find that the infraction is not proven and dismiss the ticket.   

Aftermarket Windscreen Speedometer Display

One of the things we love about MINIs is the technology - automatic wipers, climate control, rear fog lamps, etc.  However, one thing that has been a work in progress is the speedometer. First, MINI only had the large center mounted speedometer. After a few complaints MINI also placed the mph in the tachometer.  However, both placements take the driver's attention away from the road.

Now, Valeo's latest product is the speed-visio, an aftermarket speedometer for any vehicle that projects the vehicle's speed on the windscreen.  Great solution and quite the "BLING" for your MINI.  Valeo also makes aftermarket reversing cameras and radar to assist with parking and driving.  A great choice for those that want complete parking distance control now that MINI has eliminated front parking distance control and made rear parking distance control a $500.00 option. In addition, it makes aftermarket lane departure warning and automatic headlight systems. 

Unfortunately, Valeo's only present sales outlets are in Germany, France and the UK.  So, if you want one, ask your friends across the pond to send you these products.

Faster Than a V12 Miata, More Powerful Than A SLR Stirling Moss

Okay Scotty,  Give Me More Boost. We Need More Boost!  An upgraded supercharger - nice.  Combined with dual scroll turbos - even nicer.  But, this is just sick!

Cheaper Speed Please

While the Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss Edition and the MaRussia are fast, they will also cost you an arm and a leg, and a few more body parts. There are a few cheaper alternatives if you are mechanically inclined. Try putting a V12 in a Mazda Miata:


You could also go green and drive the world's fastest electric powered Go-Kart, though it is likely not street legal:


It Will Drive (You Crazy)!

Want to drive something fast and unique? Gas consumption not an issue? Just want some great performance and eye candy? There are a few new choices on the horizon, like this Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss Edition:

Even more unique would be a MaRussia, Russia's first super sportscar:

If you do drive fast and get in a serious accident don't expect a good samaritan to pull you from the burning wreckage. Now, under California law, the good samaritan would be liable if he injured you while trying to save you from your own stupidity.  So leave those burning victims alone!

Driving fast, however, is not the only way to get in trouble while driving.   You can get in trouble just sitting on your sofa!

Merry MINI Christmas Tree

Gather around the MINI Tree - direct from China, (courtesy of the BBC).

Want A Great Deal On A Low Mileage Classic Car?

GM is so strapped for cash that it has decided to auction off dozens of classics and near-classics from its Corporate Museum at the Barrett-Jackson Auction January 13-19, 2009 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Here is a list of the vehicles being auctioned. Included are Corvette Pacecars, a 1918 Cadillac, Reggie Jackson's 1969 Camaro, Holden racecars, and a 1969 GTO Judge.

This may be your last best chance to own a great American car. Even if Detroit survives, The Truth About Cars reports that China is grabbing as much R&D and engineering talent as it can from the U.S. automakers.

Run, Run Reindeer

Car Magazine of the UK asked Bentley, Ford, Nissan and Rolls-Royce "for their vision of Father Christmas’s wheels". The results were rather amazing. Our favorite was the Bentley:

Wow!!! Look At All Those R57 Colors!

We here at NorCal MINIs are just salivating over the exterior colors MINI has identified will be available on the 2009 R57 convertible. They include a few that are making a comeback from prior years - Pepper White, Nightfire Red Metallic, Chili Red, Pure Silver Metallic, Interchange Yellow, Sparkling Silver Metallic, British Racing Green Metallic, Hot Chocolate Metallic, Horizon Blue Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic.

Sometimes you just have to wonder what these guys were on when they named these colors. We also wonder what this guy was on when he decided to do this:

Argyle Sweater "Accident"

The Good, The Bad, The Bizarre

The Good:

UPI reports that The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has concluded that small car manufacturers have made ". . . big improvements to small cars to better protect people in frontal crashes." The MINI was also given a good rating for protection in rear-end collisions.

The Bad:

Parking Distance Control came standard on the prior generation of MINI convertibles but no longer. According to MotoringFile front Parking Distance Control will no longer be available and rear Parking Distance Control will now be a $500.00 option.

The Bizarre:

Half human fish found! (Yeah, right).

While you heat up your lunch, try this video for a little bizarre holiday spirit:

Everything Old Is New Again

Lately we have had a lot of posts and discussions of the "new" technology of electric cars and hybrids. But, as Driving Sports points out in its perusal of 1920's Popular Science Magazines now available on Google, electric cars are not a new idea. In fact, we'll take a Flivverette over a G-Wiz any day!

Holiday Gifts for the MINI Owner

For those of you looking to obtain unique holiday gifts for your MINI here are a few to consider.

How about a MINI gift certificate for new wheels from the new collection of all black OEM wheels MINI will be offering commencing with March production? Here are pictures, courtesy of MotoringFile:

A little less expensive is a new non-OEM gadget that is just the thing for those of us that use hand signals (of all sorts) but do not like to take our hands off the wheel or roll down the window - It is called "The Hand" and we think it would be an awesome addition to any MINI:

Finally, You might also consider the new kinky starter!

No More Cooper Paddle Shifters

MotoringFile reports that paddle shifters for the automatic transmission Cooper R55, R56 and R57 will be phased out with March 2009 production. Paddle shifters will thereafter only be offered on the automatic MCS. Since paddle shifters will only be available on the automatic R57 for a few weeks, automatic R57's with paddle shifters will be extremely rare.

Don't Try This At Home

So you think you can handle a car?

MCS 2007-2008 Tailpipe Service Bulletin Is Now A Recall

Recently we advised of BMW's "Service Bulletin" for 2007-2008 MCS tailpipes due to leg burns when unloading the boot. Edmunds is now reporting that BMW will voluntarily recall the vehicles for tailpipe replacement. BMW has stated begrudgingly that it was
". . . acquiescing in order to avoid confusing our customers, particularly in recognition of the fact that the company has already offered owners of the subject vehicles the same redesigned exhaust pipes at no charge that would be provided under a safety recall."

In other words BMW "volunteered" to do this recall "for its customers" since the NHTSA was not satisfied by the Service Bulletin and was ready to order an involuntary recall.

Dealers will replace the tailpipe for free. The recall will begin in January. Owners can contact BMW at (800) 831-1117.

Thinking Inside and Outside the Box

There is a new sense of entrepreneurial enthusiasm in the automotive sector as we watch the demise of the Detroit 3 due to their lack of vision and management skills. The next big personal transportation movement must be "Eco" - meaning ecologically and economically friendly.  

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing an electric city car based on the airport luggage cart model. UK is going bonkers over an ugly little electric called the "G-Wiz" (which we believe is a rather unfortunate name).  Here is a picture of the little thang:  

Not all new ideas are "Eco". There are the new 2010 Signature Series Mustangs (you are welcome Jesse) from Ford and Steve Saleen with 4.6L V8 engines and up to 650 horsepower. These are not exactly gas sippers. But the effects of these Mustangs on the environment are nothing compared to the solution Dubai's Palazzo Versace Hotel has come up with for hot sand beaches.

Thank You and Happy Holidays

Thank you to all club members who attended the Christmas Lights Run and Party. Special thanks to Pete and Lori for their home and hospitality! It was a wonderful event of twinkling lights, with a winter chill in the air, and warmth and friendship in our hearts. Send us your pictures of your MINI in full holiday regalia and we will post it We had rolling reindeer, candy canes and decorated Christmas trees. Those who could not make it - we missed you and look forward to seeing you all at our events in the new year.

Big changes are coming to the NorCal MINIs' website. WithIn the next few weeks this blog will become the Club's Homepage and Members only discussions, postings, and file sharing will be on the NorCal MINIs' Google Group (See the link in the left sidebar). In order to post, respond, upload and download files, create web pages, e-mail the Club and Club Members through the NorCal MINIs' Google Group, and receive access to exclusive club events and discounts, your dues must be paid. You can use the Paypal button in the left sidebar to easily and quickly pay your dues. If you have paid but have not received or answered an invitation to the Group, go to the NorCal Google Group and request an invitation. We will quickly activate your access.

Near the top of the left sidebar is a link to the NorCal MINIs' Calendar of Events. Here all the events of which we are aware in the Northern California Automotive Community are posted. If you have any additions of any sort, please e-mail them to info@norcalminis.com and we will get your events on the schedule.

World In Changes

Nothing stays the same. Look around. First it was eight track tapes, then cassettes, then CD's. Now it is Ipods, Mp3 players and memory sticks. In fact, word comes from MINI USA that it has eliminated the standard CD changer prep from U.S. market cars because only 50 cars out of over 50,000 sold actually had the CD changers installed!

The internal combustion engine is also being challenged by greener alternatives.  Here, courtesy of Gizmodo, is a shot of the MINI-E's "fuel gauge":

Even FedEx is getting into the electric vehicle act!

Saturday Will Be A Perfect Night for the Christmas Lights Run

"Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!" Weather reports now advise possible showers Saturday morning with a 50% chance of showers late Saturday night. However, there is a good chance of two inches of snow on East Bay Hills above 1,500 feet by Sunday!

NorCal MINIs' Christmas Lights Run and Party should be a winter spectacular. The run starts Saturday, December 13, 2008, at 5:30 p.m. when we meet up at the Starbucks in Danville at Blackhawk Plaza, 4000 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506. Here is the run map.

Make sure your MINI is in full holiday regalia!

The Christmas Lights Run will be followed by the NorCal MINIs party at Peter and Lori's home in Pleasanton. Please bring an appetizer or dessert and a new, unwrapped toy or game for the kids at Oakland Children's Hospital.

Please RSVP Here.

Green Miles

There are so many ways we can be green. (But wasn't it Kermit who said "It's not easy being green"?) It can drive you nuts!

Like you, we here at NorCal MINIs get up early and have our fresh ground coffee. But, what do you do with the used grounds? Put them down the drain? Not great. Put them in the trash? Not much better. Caffeinate the plants? Doping is out. How about turning them into biodiesel! Obviously, a new Starbucks opportunity.

As far as green engines are concerned, we have always been partial to ones that could run on air alone. But you have to make it lightweight. How about out of Lego blocks?

The best green miles, of course, are those you don't drive at all. In fact, with the right auto insurance, such as the newly concocted "pay-as-you-drive" plan, the less you drive the lower your insurance premiums. So if you don't drive at all you pay nothing! Wait ... if we don't drive we don't need insurance. Hmmm. Told you it could drive you nuts.

Are You A Gamer?

Ever wonder what it would be like to play Mario Kart for real? I mean really for real. You are Mario or Luigi and you race around a real city in a real go-kart. Well, wonder no more!:

Fugly Paint

The end of the year approaches and the top ten lists proliferate. Over at Jalopnik they have chosen the ten most outrageous car paint jobs of 2008. MINIs garnered three of the ten spots:

10. The Agent Provocateur MINI Clubman:

8. The Trippy Alan Aldridge MINI:

3. The One Million Swarovski Crystal MINI Cooper:

Of course, if you do not have a MINI to paint you might start by reproducing a 3-D MINI Cabrio with your webcam as explained in MINI German magazine advertisements. If you already have a MINI and just want to detail, wash and wax it, through December 27, 2008, you can save 15% on supplies ordered from Griot's Garage. Just use Key Code 15DCLB at checkout. There is no minimum order.

Recession Proof MINI And Taking The Bus

BusinessWeek has published a list of recession-proof cars - cars that are worth their price and hold their value. The late model MINI Cooper is one of the vehicles chosen because it has the highest residual value and is "a blast to drive." It was not, however, the top vehicle in terms of reliability but, as the author puts it, "neither (of the more reliable cars) is as fun to drive."

Normally, we don't take the bus instead of the MINI to save coin, but, we might be willing to take this one:

Twice Burned

According to Motoringfile, MINI is fighting a recall requested by NHTSA of 2007 and early 2008 R56 MCS models. NHTSA advises that its Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) and BMW:

. . .have received numerous complaints indicating that consumers’ legs have
been burned while they access the rear cargo area of the subject vehicles via
the rear hatchback shortly after the vehicles have been driven. As reflected by
the complaints, people accessing the cargo area naturally place their legs at
the rear of the vehicle. People are burned as they inadvertently contact either
of the two hot exhaust pipe tips while removing items from, or placing items in,
the rear cargo area. Some of the burn injuries are significant second degree
burns, causing blistered skin or scarring, often in a half-moon shape pattern
matching the approximately 2 3/4-inch diameter of the exhaust tips.

And we thought the MINI tattoo was all the rage as a status symbol. NHTSA has asked for a voluntary recall but MINI has refused. Instead MINI has commenced a "Service Campaign" to repair the problem. In other words, MINI will "repair" under warranty by shortening the exhaust pipe tips if you ask it to do so.

So MINI owners go get it fixed now. We don't think the UPS delivery truck is coming anytime soon.

And Now A Word From the U.S. Automotive Industry

Courtesy of The Truth About Cars -

What If Companies Were Required To Show Their Fiscal Condition In Their Logos?

It is getting hard to tell who is likely survive the financial crisis. Even MINI sales in the UK, according to Motoringfile, have dropped 40% and the Oxford plant closed early for the holidays. The Business Pundit provides us with these re-done corporate logos to accurately reflect the companies' fiscal condition following the crisis:

I'll Have A Blue, Blue Christmas

Sing "Blue Christmas" with the King. At http://www.singwiththeking.com/ Sony Music Entertainment has made it possible for you to watch Elvis and Martina MacBride sing a "Blue Christmas" duet and then record your own duet with Elvis. You can also send it to friends and family in the form of a holiday e-card. Definitely something for a King fan. Fried peanut butter and banana sandwich not included. Thank you, thank you very much.

"The Eastern World Is Exploding . . ."

The U.S. auto industry is officially in the tank with industry bankruptcies that could cost the American taxpayer $65 billion over the next two years, or bailouts that would cost each American taxpayer, at a minimum, $12.50. Imports are not doing any better. Their vehicles, unsold, are piling up at U.S. ports.

Yet, there is one auto company that is doing extremely well, although you have probably not heard of them in the U.S. They run an assembly line that makes the Peugeot Roa and Pars, the Samand passenger car and the Bardo pick-up. They are the biggest automobile producer in the Middle East. The Senegalese president has asked the company to import to, and make its vehicles in, Senegal. Last year they opened an assembly line in Egypt. That's right, it is Iran Khodro based in Tehran, Iran.

It's so nice to know that Iran's manufacturing infrastructure is so strong while ours slowly disappears.

Events Reminders

Reminders Of Upcoming Events:

NorCal MINIs' Christmas Lights Run and Party

December 13, 2008, at 5:30 p.m.

Meetup at the Starbucks in Danville at Blackhawk Plaza, 4000 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506. Here's the run map.

Followed By The Club Party

BYOB Potluck (bring an appetizer or dessert) at Peter and Lori's in Pleasanton.

Please also bring a new unwrapped toy for the kids at Oakland Childrens Hospital.

RSVP on the Comments to the Blog Post of the Christmas Lights Run

24 Hours of LeMons

Sat. December 27- Sun. December 28, 2008

Thunderhill Raceway, Willows, CA

Silicon Valley International Auto Show

Thursday, January 8 -Sun. January 11, 2009

150 West San Carlos St., San Jose, CA

NorCal MINIs' Elephant Seal Run

Saturday, January 24, 2009, 9:00 am

Meet up at the Pioneer Hotel located at 2925 Woodside Rd, Woodside, CA 94062

We will then head to Ano Nuevo State Reserve for a stop to view the seals ($7). You must have purchased a ticket from Reserve America 800-444-4445 to go on the tour. There may be limited ticket availability at Ano Nuevo. If you cannot get a ticket, close by are the Pigeon Point Light Station, Bean Hollow State Beach, and Harley Farms Goat Dairy (map)(tours by appointment only. You get to milk a goat). We will stop at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero for a late lunch.

Sign Up on the Comments to the Blog Post of the Elephant Seal Run.

MINI 2009 Tech Session

Saturday, February 7, 2009, 10:00 a.m.

There will be a MINI Tech session at Performance Art located at 5755-B Rossi Lane, Gilroy, CA 95020. Coffee and doughnuts provided.

MINI Challenge Australia

Here are the MINI Challenge Australia Final Round Videos courtesy of AUSmotive. Better to watch them from this distance than like this guy:

Part 1

Part 2

Memories of Detroit Steel

Whether the Detroit 3 survive or not (we will go with the Nobel Prize winner's economic analysis and watch Washington rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic with taxpayer's money) they have made some incredible steel like these:

All cars that are or will be missed should the Detroit 3 disappear.. But these cars, - uh, not so much:

What Chicks Dig And A Little Drink and Blow

As the Queen of the Road reminds us, California gas stations must provide air and water free — to customers who buy gasoline or diesel. If you don't buy gas or diesel, the station is within its rights to charge you. But isn't the real question whether chicks dig your car?

The Red Flag is Coming To Blackhawk

Auto Channel is reporting the "First Ever Collector Car Exchange In The United States with China". On hand will be the "Red Flag" first built in 1958 for Chinese dignataries. On Wednesday, December 10, 2008, the collectors, along with several Chinese dignitaries, and the media will be at the Blackhawk Museum where the historic exchange will take place. After the ceremony, The Red Flag will be on display to the general public at the museum.

That's Just Crazy Talk

Woke up this morning and there it was - a wild rumor reported by The Truth About Cars that BMW will buy Opel (but why?). Does this make sense? Is Opel a threat to BMW? The product lines sure look like they compete. I guess it is no more ridiculous than the guy in this video -

MINI Touch Too Cute - Totally Useless

As The Truth About Cars points out, one of the options available for the new MINI R57 Convertible is the "Openmeter". As you can see at left, it is a gauge that keeps track of all of the time you have driven with the top down. A bit precious don't you think? Tell us, why would one want or pay extra for this accessory?

Holy Clubman!!!

We knew MINI was doing well in this down economy, but check out this chart from over at Motoringfile:

It is not just that MINI sales are up 43% over last year, MINI is the only car company that has had an increase in sales!

New MINI R57 Convertible Advertisements

MotoringFile has a first look at the new advertising campaign for the new MINI R57 Convertible. If the "ice man" spot is any indication, it is more weird, with less reference to "go-kart" performance, and with more emphasis on the glorification of the shortcomings of convertibles.

Believe us, we have had our share of convertibles and in all of them you can freeze with the top down or easily get ripped off if left unattended due to the easy view into, and access to, the interior of the car. Still, there is nothing like an open top car with a cool breeze at speed and a warm sun, or a warm desert night. However, at some point you realize you want a sturdy car with some performance virtues (we should know, we once owned a '90s Mercury Capri Convertible) and it seems to us that glorification of the shortcomings of convertibles may not be a great way to sell convertibles. But, hey what do we know.

NorCal MINIs Christmas Lights Run & Party Meetup

Our December 13, 2008, Christmas Lights Run will start with a meetup at 5:30 p.m. at the Starbucks in Danville at Blackhawk Plaza, 4000 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506. Here's the run map. It will culminate with a BYOB appetizers and desserts party at Peter and Lori's. Make sure you RSVP and we will see you all there!


Thank you Autoblog for bringing this gem to our attention - a USC student film by George Lucas of racing legend Peter Brock at Willow Springs Raceway in a Lotus 23. It is 8 minutes long with no dialogue. Check it out!


We know there are some of you out there that mod your MINIs to the hilt - suspension upgrades, CAI's, pulleys, chips, big brake kits, injectors, reflashes, custom paint, sound, leather, seats, video, GPS, shaved doors, lambo doors, aftermarket ground effects, etc. But yes, you can go too far as this article at Spike proves. We think the French Fry Holder is the perfect Clubman accessory.

A Piece Of Stationery With A Re-adherable Strip of Adhesive

Remember this post before Thanksgiving about the speed and radar cameras in Arizona? Well, it seems that there is a non-violent resistance movement underway through the use of Post-It Notes! (Apparently, the response in the UK has not been as mild).

The 24 Hours of LeMons

If you are looking for a fun, car-oriented outing for the weekend of December 27-28, 2008, you can't go wrong with The 24 Hours of Lemons' ARSE-FREEZE-APALOOZA at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA. Here's what ARSE-FREEZE-APALOOZA is all about, according to the website:

Each LeMons race is for cars purchased, fixed up, and track-prepped for a total
of 500 dollars or less. But before reaching the grid, you'll have to survive
trials like the Personal-Injury-Lawyer Anti-Slalom, the Marxist-Valet Parking
Challenge, and the Wide Open Throttle Rodthrowapalooza. Twelve hours into the
race, the car voted People’s Choice is called in and awarded a cash prize;
simultaneously, the car voted People’s Curse is called in and summarily
destroyed. At the end of 24 hours, a gala awards ceremony plies the survivors
with trophies, plaques, and four-figure purses in canvas bags full of nickels.
What's not to like?

Will BMW Survive The Economic Downturn?

While MINI has been an unqualified success for BMW, according to this article in BusinessWeek, due to the global economic crisis BMW's leasing and financing strategy has placed BMW at significant risk. Is a BMW Daimler merger in the offing?