Sonora Run - Sunday June 9, 2024

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Gavin Green Chases History In A MINI Across Australia

Gavin Green's father, rally driver Evan Green, wrote a book entitled “Journeys with Gelignite Jack”, a fascinating account of his groundbreaking journey through Australia in a classic Mini. This year journalist Gavin Green retraced his father's steps in a new MINI. He, like his father 43 years ago, traversed some of the world’s most hostile driving terrain. The stock 2009 MINI Cooper impressed. Running on 16 inch tires Gavin didn’t once have to change tires over 12,000 miles of hard travel, despite the MINI often having to cover a mix of rock, mud, sand and asphalt at high speed.

The full story of Gavin’s trip will be read first by flyers travelling with British Airways when it is published as the cover story on 1 July in BA “High Life” magazine. The story and additional images will also appear online at www.bahighlife.com.

[Source: Motorcities]

Top 10 Movie Cars

Of course the MINIs in "The Italian Job" made the top ten of Autoweek.com's list of top movie cars, but, we didn't expect to see Harry's Dog Grooming Van from "Dumb and Dumber" as No. 9.

The Midas "Touch"

Everything King Midas touched turned to gold. However, according to the Contra Costa Times the only thing turning into gold at 22 Midas shops, 8 in the East Bay, were the alleged "brake special" scams uncovered by the California Attorney General's office during stings from 2005 through 2007. The franchises include Midas shops on Main Street in Walnut Creek, Monument Boulevard in Concord, Village Parkway in Dublin, two shops on North Blackstone Avenue in Fremont, a pair of Hayward shops, one in San Leandro and four in San Jose.

The franchise owner, Maurice Irving Glad, already operating under the terms of a 20-year-old injunction that set permanent restrictions on his companies over the same practices, has been charged with bait-and-switch practices that cost nearly $300 on average in unneeded, and in some cases unperformed, brake service. Mr. Glad's attorney decries the charges as unfounded and based on "rigged" evidence. According to the Attorney General's allegations, the Midas shops used "brake specials" to draw in customers, then made false or misleading statements to pressure customers to buy unnecessary parts and services. In some cases customers were promised work that was never done. In other cases customers did not receive proper paperwork, or appropriate tests were not done before a diagnosis.

Jet Turbine-powered ATV

Built by Popular Science -

(Source: Popular Science via Jalopnik]

NHTSA May Mandate Rear Amber Turn Signals

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating whether to mandate that vehicle rear turn signals be amber-colored. Currently, they can be amber or red. A NHTSA study determined that amber rear turn signals were 5.3% more effective than red lights in preventing collisions.

[Source: KickingTires]

Big Increases In Car Rental Rates

Based on the New York Times review of Abrams Consulting Group data on car rental prices, rental rates have increased 73% over last year due to cuts in the size of rental fleets and price gouging.

[Source: The Truth About Cars]

Tribute To Michael Jackson - "Speed Demon" From 1988

Rallying An Austin Mini For Fun In France

Fiat 500 Coming To US

But, probably not this version -

[Source: AutoMotto]

MINI Two Seater Near Production Approval

MotoringFile has confirmed that a two seat MINI has been shown to several MINI internal groups and is poised to be officially approved for production. It is undetermined whether it will be an R56 based GP type of vehicle or the rumored Coupe is based on the upcoming MINI speedster.

Lawyers That Can Surely Protect Your Interests

[Source: Business Pundit]

Consumer Reports Decides The 2010 Honda Insight Sucks

Consumer Reports really dislikes the 2010 hybrid Honda Insight. It blasted the vehicle for its "ride quality, handling, interior noise, acceleration, rear-seat, access, and visibility," and ranked it 21 out of 22 among tested small hatchbacks and wagons. Only the Dodge Caliber got worse marks. The Insight was the only vehicle not "Recommended" in the Consumer Reports study. Consumer Reports said it is "the most disappointing Honda Consumer Reports has tested in a long time."

[Source: Consumer Reports via autoblog]

Ford Launches "Work Solutions" Office On Wheels

Ford, also known as "Fixed Or Repaired Daily," has decided to "help" its commercial vehicle customers with the introduction of its "Work Solutions" package that includes a theft-proof, built-in laptop computer (we are sure because it is "built-in" it will never have to be repaired), tools for tracking tools and the truck, and for securing equipment in the beds of pickups as an $2,815-add-on cost for pickups, but it can be less if buyers pick and choose among the features.

Seems to us a netbook and a RFID GPS system should cost about $1,000 total so the package appears to be quite expensive. In addition, would you trust your computer repair to a Ford dealer service technician? We didn't think so.

[Source: msnbc]

Penn Jillette Loves His MINIs

Six foot seven inch magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller so loves the MINI that he owns two and has given one away to a friend as a gift. Penn customized his MINIs in his own color which he calls "stripper-inner-labia pink."

[Source: Motor Trend]

Tearing A Car Apart With Your Bare Hands

In the videogame "Street Fighter" the character Ryu tears apart a car with his bare hands. Watch this guy, dressed as Ryu, do it in real life.

[Source: via TheCarConnection.com]

And It's A Ford? Perhaps They Don't Build Them Like They Used To

Ninety year old Rachel Veitch of Orlando, FLA has had a 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente for the past 45 years . . . and it is still running strong after recording 558,000 miles. She has changed the oil every 3,000 miles. To quote Ms. Veitch:
"I've taken care of most everything I've ever had, except for husbands."

[Source: UPI.com]

Remembering Billy Mays

In memory of pitchman Billy Mays Jalopnik looks at what it considers Billy Mays' eight greatest car gadgets.

250 Workers Return To Jobs At The Oxford Plant

The BBC reports that the BMW MINI Oxford Plant has recalled 250 workers to work, and set up new shift schedules, due to a recent increase in demand for MINIs.

Vroom Giddiness Prevails

You can hear the fear in this woman's voice and see the elation in her face as she is driven around a racetrack at full throttle by a pro-driver.

[Source: worldcarfans.com]

The VW Opel Of Romania

[Source: TheCarConnection.com]

$4 Per Gallon Gas Required To Move US Drivers To More Efficient Cars

According to Cars.com 40% of US car shoppers said they would consider purchasing a new fuel-efficient car right away if gas were over $4 a gallon. However, between $2.50 and $2.75 — an overwhelming majority, 64%, said they wouldn’t consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle at all.

[Source: KickingTires]

U.S. Auto Makers Prevail In AutoPacific's 2009 Ideal Vehicle Awards

The AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Awards are based on car owner surveys to determine which vehicles best meet consumer expectations. We figure US Auto Makers did so well because consumer expectations for US cars are so low.

[Source: TheAutoChannel]

Aston Martin's Minicar

Even Aston Martin is getting into minicars. Amazingly, Aston Martin will not build their own. Instead they will, believe it or not, rebadge the Toyota iQ as the Aston Martin Cygnet and release it in 2010.

[Source: Bloomberg via TheTruthAboutCars]

Shopping Cart Racing, The Prototype

[Source: via AutoMotto]

Quite Rightly!

"Electrical banana
Is gonna be a sudden craze.
Electrical banana
Is bound to be the very next phase"

But not anymore. MINI is officially retiring the color "Mellow Yellow." It will be replaced by "White Silver."

[Source: MotoringFile]

Hold On, Issue A Press Release. What I Really Meant Was . . .

In the San Francisco Chronicle AP Auto Writer Dan Strumpf cites MINI USA VP Jim McDowell about his take on the MINI's poor showing in J. D Powers Initial Quality Survey. Mr. McDowell expands on his stupefying remarks on the subject that he made to CNBC. The article reads a lot like a "let me explain, what I really meant was . . ." press release. We also take solace in the fact that the top five problems reported in the overall study were wind noise, air conditioner or heater control problems, interior scuffing, audio control problems and brake noise.

[Source: SFGate]

Don't You Love It When You Get Paid For Doing Something You Would Have Done For Free?

UK Gov Awards BMW £25m To Begin MINI E Field Testing.

[Source: BMW via Ridelust]

CarandDriver.com Gives The MINI-E A "Wait For The Next Generation" Review

CarandDriver.com's take - short on range, and oomph, and long on taking money out of your wallet in lease payments.

And His Dog Spot!

From 1969 to 1979 I lived in Los Angeles. Every late night local television show had advertisements for the local car dealers. There was Ralph Williams, but none were better than Cal Worthington and his dog spot. In homage -

[Source: YouTube via The New York Times]

Drifting A Rolls Royce Phantom

BMW's Interactive Speedometer Technology

BMW is testing a speedometer display in Australia that can read speed limit signposts and variable speed limit signs and show the limit in the instrument cluster. The technology eliminates the ability to say "No, Sir" when asked by a police officer "Did you know you were speeding?"

[Source: TheAutoChannel]

Special Edition Summer Picnic Shirts


MINI Mini Bank

Metropolitan Bank has opened a Memphis, TN branch - in a MINI!

[Source: CommercialAppeal.com via vargasgal at NorthAmericanMotoring.com]



Arden's MINI Equipe

Arden Engineering has created a highly customized MINI that it calls the "Equipe." It has custom two-tone leather upholstery, hand-stitched casings, handmade stainless steel and chrome elements from front to rear, and a redesigned grille.

The Equipe sports super-light 18x8in aluminum alloy wheels - 15lb each - with an ECU upgrade, new intercooler and full stainless steel exhaust system complete with racing catalytic converters, producing about 40hp (30kW) and 37lb-ft (50Nm) of torque over stock. Arden also adds a special sport suspension, 30mm lowering springs and six-piston brakes.

[Source: MotorAuthority]

Two Thumbs Up For MINI of Morristown, NJ

MINI of Morristown has donated 12 of its MINI-E's to Community Options, which develops housing and innovative employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

[Source: Daily Record.com]

Six Interesting Reviews Of the 2009 MCS Convertible

Six Automobile Magazine editors review the 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible.

Rubber Duckzilla MCS

Check out this video game footage of the "Rubber Duckzilla" Mini Cooper S from XBox game developer Forza Motorsport.

MINI Life Cycle Refresh in 2010

MotoringFile reports MINI will refresh the R56 and all of its variants in 2010 with refinement of the interior including the radio controls, heating and cooling systems, upgraded materials, subtle design changes and new interior trim and dashboard options. Outside, the vehicles will have updated xenon and halogen lights, more aggressive front and rear MCS fascia, a tweak to the rear lamps and new color options.

The revisions are expected to debut at the March 2010 Geneva Auto Show and be generally available in late summer for the 2011 model year.

Road Pizza

AutoMotto directs our attention to the in-car portable pizza oven. It works with all DC 12V vehicles with a electric socket, not just minivans and Italian cars. Available for $36.00.

MINI Production Halted

According to the BBC, BMW's MINI Oxford Plant has ceased production due to a strike in France that has made steering wheel bearings from its French supplier unavailable. No word on when production may restart.

[Source: via theSwitchback]

Making Your Morris Traveller Your Home Away From Home

Jim Goodland has converted his Morris Traveller by adding a thatched roof. Hate to be behind him in a strong wind or on the highway.

[Source: AutoMotto]

California Proposes All New Cars Have Sun-Reflecting Glass

Apparently, California is concerned over the amount of air conditioning you may need in your car. The Air Resources Board is proposing that all new vehicles in the state have, and all replacement glass be, sun-reflecting glass in order to reduce air conditioner-based carbon dioxide emissions, despite industry concerns that the glass may interfere with cell phones signals, GPS navigation systems and electronic passes for toll roads.

Why make this so expensive and spend so many tax dollars on this issue? So the Air Resources Board can justify their expense accounts for "reflective glass research?" Why not just revise portions of California Vehicle Code section 26708 to permit tinting of front side windows and windshields, set standards for the tint, and require those tint standards be met in vehicles sold in California? That way, there is no need to spend a fortune replacing glass - inexpensive tint film takes care of the problem.

Ahh! Is it California politicians always picking the most expensive solution if available or do the Air Resources Board members get large contributions from the auto glass industry?

[Source: San Francisco Chronicle]

You Can Ditch Your Date And Still Keep The Roadster

Chris Stelmack is a matchmaker who operates the 4M Club for the filthy rich where, for a measly $250,000, you can get a blind date and a Tesla Roadster, and you can keep the Roadster even if you don't want to keep the date.

[Source: TheCarConnection.com]

Exclusivity Never Looked So Good

It's coming and it will be here sooner than you think! The Contra Costa Backroads Rally, Sunday, July 19, 2009, is just under a month away, and our volunteers at NorCal MINIs along with our friends, the teams at MINI of Concord, are very excited. We have many challenges planned for you all the day of the event. But, MINI of Concord has told us why wait to have all the fun??? So today starts a PRE-RALLY CONTEST!!!

The prize for this competition is a fantastic custom roof graphic from MINI Motoring Graphics presented by MINI of Concord!!! This is a $495 value, so check out the endless possibilites at http://www.minimotoringgraphics.com.

All you need do to win is complete a 12 piece puzzle. Sounds easy enough right? MINI of Concord has stashed pieces of the puzzle all around its facilities with certain people. You will need to decipher the clues, collect the pieces, and complete the puzzle. The participant who completes the puzzle first will win the graphic.

First, a couple of rules:

There are only 16 puzzles. The first person with a complete puzzle that brings it to the parts department of BMW/MINI of Concord will win. Only one complete puzzle per participant. In the event that no one is able to complete the puzzle by the day of the rally, the person who can turn in the puzzle with the most pieces will win. If there is a tie, the prize will be given away via a lottery. Please remember this is for a MINI roof graphic, so having a MINI to put it on would be ideal


All these clues refer to places or people at the MINI of Concord dealership.

1. If your MINI is sick, these two ladies are good to know. They live in BMW and are 100% MINI.

2. This place has dark walls, but is filled with lots of color. A new MINI will always feel at home here.

3. This guy can make even the most banged up MINI look like new.

.....so those three clues we will give you for free...the other ones you will have to work for. The last 3 clues will be posted on Friday at the MINI of Concord blog, http://blog.miniofconcord.com.

So what other events are we doing at the rally????

We have prizes, and for our Grand Prize we have raffle tickets given to the winners of the events listed below:

1. BEST COSTUME CONTEST - We don't want to be the only ones having the fun!! Join our custom themed cars with a costume of your own. Show us what you got!!

2. Pinewood Derby Race / Best Pinewood Derby Car - Remember those Pinewood Derby races you may have had when you were a kid?? You can have that fun again!!! Bring your MINI inspired Pinewood Derby car to the day of our rally and race it on our Derby Track. We will give prizes for the winner of all the races, and for the best decorated car.* Start getting to work now!!

* Please keep to the spirit of the race and only build your car from a pinewood derby kit you can get online or at your local hardware store.

Trivia and Games will also be at all the stops for raffle tickets for our grand prize!!


Believe me, you won't want to miss it.

Have questions??? Contact MINI of Concord at the dealership, or sign up here.

Hope to see you there

Meet here for the start of the rally:

MINI/BMW Concord Collision Center
1321B Galaxy Way, Concord, CA 94520-2626
(800) 968-9718


2010 Car Of The Year Candidates Announced

Some BMWs, but not a MINI among the chosen candidates. View the candidates here.

[Source: CaroftheYear.org]

BMW's Plans Of World Domination Revealed

According to Marty Padgett at TheCarConnection it includes hatchbacks, a Z2 four cylinder roadster, twin turbos and diesel engines.

Stop And Start Not Here Yet

One fuel saving technology is the "start and stop" engine, that is, an engine that turns off at idle and restarts when power is needed. Mazda 's technology is called i-stop and will be available on the European Mazda 3 which is outfitted with a two litre four cylinder fuel injection engine. The system is novel in that it uses combustion energy for the engine restart which Mazda claims results in restarts twice as fast as conventional means. The system may not meet EPA regulations so don't expect to see the technology in the US.

[Source: CarandDriver.com]

Top Speed Reviews Hooked On Driving

. . . and likes it.

Mercedes E-Class Provides Starbucks Marketing Opportunity

The new Mercedes E-Class includes "Attention Assist." It monitors the driver to keep him or her from falling asleep. If it detects drowsiness it sends out a 70 decibel alarm and lights up a coffee cup icon on the speedometer display.

We think this technology could provide a great marketing opportunity for coffee houses. Instead of the coffee cup icon and alarm, sell rights to a coffee house - for example, Starbucks. Replace the coffee cup icon with the Starbucks mermaid and ditch the alarm for GPS directions to the nearest Starbucks. That could make this technology standard in every vehicle.

[Source: cartech blog at cnet]

RIP Karmann

Closed Monday due to insolvency.

[Source: autoblog]

Hey Jim, Need A Couch To Sleep On?

Check out this video.

You know, Jim, I don't know if you are married or not. But my wife is not an automobile. My MINI is transportation and a toy, it is not my intimate lover (but I can't tell you whether the same is true for this guy). So don't tell us it is due to the idiosyncrasies of MINIs that MINI came in dead last in J.D. Powers Initial Quality Survey. You can't be that clueless and offensive to women at the same time. Can you?

"City" BMW/MINI/?

CarandDriver.com reports that in 2012 BMW plans to release the first offering of a super-efficient EV car that will be smaller and cost less than the next generation MINI Cooper and BMW 1-series that will be introduced in 2011. The vehicle, called "City," may or may not be badged either a BMW or MINI. BMW also holds the rights to Riley and Triumph, but considering the reputation of electrical systems in British cars, BMW chairman and CEO Norbert Reithofer knows redeploying those old names probably isn’t the best idea.

What The World Rally Championship Is All About

Don't miss this great video on the history of the World Rally Championship -

MCS JCW Tested At Nürburgring

The JCW with the regular sports suspension did the 'Ring in 8:35 - about the same as the BMW Z4 3.0si Coupe (8:32) and Lotus Exige (8:32), but faster than a Honda Civic Type-R (8:47) and VW R32 (8:49). Add the JCW sports suspension and, who knows, maybe the JCW can beat the Audi TTS (2.0 Turbo)(8:29) and the BMW 335 (8:26).

[Source: MotoringFile]

Don't Like The Pulsejet? Try The Steam Bike

Imagine doing 75 mph on your bicycle with a furnace and a tank full of pressurized steam between your legs. And someone thought this was a good idea?

[Source: autobloggreen]

In Your Rear View Mirror?

At least you are not on this Romanian highway!

[Source: Jalopnik]

Pulsejet Your Way To The End Of Your Life

For about $1,200.00 you too can tear down the highway on your bicycle at over 75 mph, burn your butt, and use "only" 1.5 gallons of fuel per mile. It'll make you yearn for a Hummer and top of the line medical insurance. At least they'll hear you coming - at 140 decibels. Available now on eBay.

[Source: Gizmodo]

Fixing Paint Chips In A MINI's Door Edge

Gassy Mini

A Mini Cooper filled with cooking gas. The gas is released from 2 large tanks. In the window a small hole was drilled letting the gas that is trapped inside escape and burn as a small flame.

Twenty Percent More MINI Dealers To Open In The Next Eighteen Months

MINI intends to increase the number of American MINI dealers by 17 over the next 18 months by opening new dealerships in Birmingham, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; Alexandria, Virginia; Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Fort Myers, Florida; El Paso, Texas; Ontario, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Raleigh, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; Loveland, Colorado; Madison, Wisconsin; Mount Laurel, New Jersey; Allentown, Pennsylvania; San Diego, California and Tempe, Arizona.

[Source: MotoringFile]

MINI Does Poorly In J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality Study

MINI came in last in the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study with 165 problems per 100 vehicles. The Industry Average was 108 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus did best in the study with 84 problems per 100 vehicles.

[Source: via autoblog]

The History Of British Racing Green

The MINI should probably be silver with British Racing Green stripes! Watch and you'll see why (and who wouldn't want a new Vanwall?)


2010 MINIs Get A New Harmon Kardon Sound System

MINI is returning to the DPSM system from Harmon Kardon originally found as an option on the R50. However, the new system for 2010 is said to feature a 480 digital watt which is 80 watts less than the old DPSM system (got to save money somewhere). The system will also include up to 10 speakers. The limited edition 2010 MINI Camden will come standard with the new system, but the system will be available as a premium audio option for the 2010 model year.

[Source: MotoringFile]