Thursday, June 30, 2011

MINIs on Top 2011 Tackles Mt. Washington Auto Road

MINI on Top (MoT) is an annual event where MINIs gather to take on Mt. Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire, a precipitous narrow tarmac and dirt track up Mt. Washington without guard rails. This year autoblog tagged along in a MINI Clubman and wrote about the adventure. MINI USA President Jim McDowell also showed up with a KISS-edition Mini Countryman, a Cooper Coupe prototype and a basketful of balloons to toss randomly at other cars.

RSR Motorsports Takes Three Top Ten Positions At Road America

RSR Motorsports' MINI Cooper S team delivered three top ten finishes in the Street Tuner class of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Road America. Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler in the No. 198 RSR MINI came in fourth. Ron Farmer and Jason Hart were seventh in the No. 196 US LED MINI. NASCAR's Ken Schrader and Dicky Riegel finished tenth in the No. 195 RSR Motorsports MINI Cooper S. Prior to the weekend, Schrader had never raced in a MINI or at Road America.

RSR Motorsports will travel to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next week for round eight of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge on Saturday, July 9, 2011.

[Source: The Auto Channel]

Orders Can Be Placed For The MINI Inspired By Goodwood In The UK

The MINI Inspired by Goodwood makes its European debut this weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Starting today UK customers will be able to place their orders for one of vehicles (only one thousand will be made and only 140 will be sold in the US) to be delivered in March 2012.

[Source: MotoringFile]

Electronic Road Signs Continue To Be Hacked Thanks To Jalopnik

Over two years ago Jalopnik published this guide to hacking road signs. As a result hacking of the signs has been rampant. Jalopnik continues to defend its publication of hacking instructions as follows:
The reason road signs are still being hacked is because hapless lowest-bid Department of Transportation contractors aren't protecting their screens from zombified hordes with a simple Master-lock.

And we'll continue to spread that important message until they secure their damn signs — no matter how much the idiots at local news stations call us a "hacker website." They're stupid enough to think that's some kind of an insult.
You can go to this article and read Jalopnik's history of highway road sign hacking.

MINI Trapped In British Car Park Saved

Yesterday we reported that a MINI had been hemmed in when a British car park closed and the owner surrounded it with concrete barriers trapping a MINI that was parked there. Today Echo reports that the vehicle, owned by 19 year old Wesley Jones, has been rescued. Wesley and his mother were able to use the  to escape via an adjoining footpath where the gap was 5 centimeters greater than the width of the MINI.

The Luckiest Motorized Rickshaw Driver In The World

Check out this video of a horrific bus crash in Bangladesh, but, look closely. A three wheeled motorized rickshaw put-puts right between them unscathed.




[Source: via CarScoop]

Look Who Drives A MINI!

Emma Stone gets into her Cooper (left) and Renee Zellweger approaches her Convertible (below).

[Source: Celebrity Cars Blog]

Learning To Drive At An Early Age

Police in Michigan's Sheridan Township stopped a seven year old boy who took Mom's car while she was sleeping on a 20 mile ride. The youngster hit speeds of over 50 miles per hour before the police were able to corral him. Here is police dash cam video of the end of the chase.




[Source: Detroit Free Press via autoblog]

MINI Countryman Backstage

MINI has launched the website MINI Countryman. Backstage.You have to register to get in, and may have to use a fictitious Australian address, however, it is worth it for MINI Countryman fans. MINI has assembled photos, videos and articles about the MINI Countryman with exclusive information about the vehicle, options, and how it is assembled. Here is a video MINI has issued about the site called The Best Of MINI Countryman Backstage.


Big Car Repair? You Might Want Take It To Another State

[Photo Credit: BestStuff.com]
According to this Los Angeles Times article a study of more than 80,000 repairs made nationally in 2010 by a network of repair shops that trade data with CarMD.com found that Californians pay 20% more for labor and 7% more for parts than the national average to get their cars fixed, That is more than drivers in almost every other state except Arizona which was the most expensive state for auto repairs, New Mexico and Colorado.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MINI Meet West 2011 Recapped

MINI Meet West 2011 at the Cal Neva in Lake Tahoe was a rousing success. If you couldn't make it here is video from Miniology of what you missed.


Haynes Repair Manuals To Go Digital

Haynes manuals are bibles for the shade tree mechanic.  Haynes says it will upload its repair manuals to the internet and will make them available by subscription. The digital versions will include audio and video instructions in addition to the step by step written instructions.

[Source: AutoGuide.com]

2011 MINI Countryman Receives June Car Of The Month Honors

NADAguides, the leading online provider of vehicle pricing and information, named the 2011 MINI Countryman the NADAguides Car of the Month for June. The award was "based on the vehicle's fuel efficiency, coupled with ample space, sporty performance, attractive European styling and safety features that scored a "Top Safety Pick" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)". NADAguides first took notice of the MINI Countryman when consumer interest for the vehicle on NADAguides.com rose significantly increasing 106 percent from October to November 2010 and then continued throughout the remainder of the year and through the first quarter of 2011. Consumer interest for the MINI Countryman increased 101 percent during the first quarter of 2011 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.

[Source: PR Newswire]

MINI Captured In Car Park

Echo reports that a MINI that was using an abandoned car park site in Tarpots, UK was trapped in the park when the landowners decided to surround it with concrete barriers to prevent parking on the property. A local resident, Steven James, said:
The blocks appeared over the weekend. I feel sorry for the owner of the car. What if they’ve got to go somewhere in a rush?

The 2012 Fiat 500 Sport Vs. The 2011 Base MINI

Winding Road ran tests comparing the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport to the 2011 base MINI Cooper. It ultimately gives the MINI the nod, but, it is almost too close to call:
We’ll admit that we kind of want the Fiat 500 to win here. The Mini has been the best small, affordable car for a long time now, and we, like many of you, like the occasional upstart upset. But the truth is that we like the Mini Cooper just a tiny bit better, and think that a lot of you will feel the same way. It’s more expensive, yes, and not quite as good in and around an urban environment, where the Fiat was truly bred to live. But the Mini also feels more substantial, and truer to the enthusiast’s soul than does the 500, even though both really do make us want to seek out the best road we can find and just drive. . . .

Gas Is Cheap In The U.S.

You may think we pay too much for gas with prices hovering at $4.00 per gallon. That's nothing. INAUTONEWS points out that in London they are paying on average $5.11 per gallon; in Amsterdam, $5.15 per gallon; in Brussels and Stockholm, $5.26 per gallon; in Copenhagen, $5.41 per gallon; in Monaco, $5,45 per gallon; in Oslo, $5.98 per gallon; and in Asmara, $6.21 per gallon.

2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman Quality Issues?

edmund's Inside Line  discusses the latest results of J.D. Power's annual Initial Quality Survey which were released last week and reflect a sharp decline in the manufacturing quality of "launch" vehicles.  MINI tied with VW with 131 problems per 100 vehicles. The most problem free vehicles were made by Lexus with 73 problems per 100 vehicles. edmund's notes:
An interesting side note is that although BMW makes Mini, the workmanship for Mini is worse than for BMW's own cars. BMW had 109 problems per 100, two points away from the industry average. Although most Mini's are manufactured in the United Kingdom, the Countryman is manufactured in Austria. Time will tell if this plant produces better cars. According to Auto Observer, Mini had the highest amount of customer complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May 2011. BMW had significantly less complaints during the same month.

Tire Shortage And Rising Prices

AutoWeek reports that auromakers are having problems getting tires and those they are able to secure they havce had to pay "double digit percentage increases" from a year ago. Apparently tire plants are running at maximum capacity and can't keep up. The shortage is expected to last over a year. Continental Tires will build two new plants in order to try and meet demand. According to Bridgestone, "[s]ince 2005, the combined prices of natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black, steel cord, fabric and other materials have risen nearly every year, with jumps of 56 percent in 2010, and 47 percent in 2009.

MINI Countryman Flow Ad Receives Gold Award

This advertisement, produced by BSUR of the Netherlands for BMW/MINI, won a GOLD award at the 2011 New York Festivals Advertising Awards in the Art, Technique + Technology category for Computer Animation..


The Devil Drives A BMW In Washington

We're pretty sure Larry did not buy a Bimmer.

[Source: That Will Buff Out]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Miniron - The Macaron MINI



[Made by Melbourne Macaron]

Always Wanted An Arm Chair For A Driver's Seat

[Source: Just A Car Guy]

You Can Now Rent MINIs In Saudi Arabia

Let's just say that you are male and find yourself in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia without a car. You'll be happy to learn that Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors, the exclusive importer of MINI vehicles in the Kingdom, has concluded a deal with Abu Diyab Rent-a-Car to add five new MINIs to the luxury auto leasing firm’s fleet before the end of the year making it the first and only rental firm in the Kingdom to include MINI’s in its fleet.

According to The Saudi Gazette, sales of MINIs in the Kingdom jumped 40 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

Recapping The MINI Coupe JCW Endurance At Nurburgring 24

MotoringFile provides this video that recounts the entire MINI Coupe JCW Endurance experience during the 24 hours at the "Green Hell."


KISS MINIs Raise $129,000 For Charity

KISS and MINI USA raised $129,000 during an eBay online charity auction of four custom-painted and autographed MINI Countryman vehicles. After shipping, all proceeds will be donated to UNICEF to help children in Japan and other emergency efforts around the world.

KISS vehicle wraps based on the auctioned designs are still available for purchase through Miniusanews.com or local MINI dealerships. MINI USA’s proceeds from those sales will continue to help those in need.

[Source: KNAC.com]

Was MINI's Advertising Strategy Racist?

[Source: via ibelieveinadv.com]
Charlotte Young of the Atlanta Post, in an article that discusses advertising in the African-American community, recounts these MINI advertising buy instructions:
Panelist Sherman Kizart, managing director of Kizart Media Partners, recalled an email he received two years ago from BMW/Mini Cooper’s advertising agency. In its discussion on how to spend the media budget, it read in bold letters at the bottom, “No African American, No Urban to be Included.” Kizart confronted the BMW/Mini Cooper representatives and re-negotiated their approach. The following year Black/urban advertising buys shot up 49 percent. But the battle he says, is far from over.

Sara Lacey Of Motherproof Reviews The Countryman For Cars.com

Looking at the Countryman from the point of view of a soccer mom. She muses:
For those of us who crave a vehicle with design distinction, how can something so cute, so distinctive and yet so flexible be ruled out? It can't and it really shouldn't. The Countryman is good for most average small-family errands, and on the weekends, it works well for parents whose kids' activities require smaller gear. Or even better yet, it could be a family's second car.

* * *
This four-seater is for parents who like to drive. The famed Mini go-kart handling remains intact and is sure to make any driver quite happy. Non-kid, aka adult, passengers will have a little rougher go of it only because the Countryman's suspension is so stiff and sporty. If the sportiness isn't enough for you, just switch to Sport mode for even "quicker throttle response and steering response," says Mini. I just call it more fun. I loved that the automatic transmission in my Mini Cooper S Countryman test car was almost as much fun as any stick shift I've driven.

Kids will likely adore the Countryman. Mine did, but they also really like to ride roller coasters 10 times in a row. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a blast, and the tight steering and responsive brakes turn anyone into a grinning lunatic behind the wheel, even poised princes and princesses.

[Source: cars.com]

Your Chance To Win The Two Millionth MINI

MINI is running a contest on Facebook to giveaway the two millionth MINI. All you have to do is go here and add your Profile Picture to MINI's Wall of Fans.

But Is It A Xenon Flashlight?

Guessing the owner isn't that bright either.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Toronto Star Chooses Juke Over Countryman Due To Price

MotoringFile points out that John Leblanc of the Toronto Star compared the MINI Countryman with the Nissan Juke and gave the Juke the edge even though the Countryman got higher marks for more headroom, more rear cargo room, better ride quality and more refined interior surfaces and materials. However, as this quote from Mr. Leblanc shows, his opinion was based almost completely on price, not on driveability:
Admittedly, the extra $10k it costs does give the MINI a slight advantage if you like to drive. The Countryman ALL4 leans less in corners and feels more composed when you drive it like a sports compact than the Juke SL AWD. Plus there’s the availability of a manual gearbox in the Mini, an option Nissan doesn’t offer with AWD in the Juke.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lighting Up With The MINI Coupe

Here's how the new 2012 MINI Coupe's lights light.




[Source: autotuningnews @ YouTube]

Don't Steer Us Wrong. What Would You Do?

Hurtling down the dragstrip at more than 100 mph, then this happens. What would you do?




{Source: via That Will Buff Out]

Bastian Wins MINI Challenge Germany In Heavy Rain

Prior to commencement of the Nürburgring 24 hour race the MINI Challenege Germany was held one the race course. Nico Bastian, driving in the Challenge for Team Gigamot Racing won the race. His teammate, Hendrik Vieth, slid off the track and crashed his car.

[Source: MINI Motorsport]

Just In Time For The Fourth Of July

The Glorystache, sported by automobiles and dead Presidents. New from Carstache.

[Source: via autoblog]

The Amazing Russ Swift Shows His Chops At Silverstone

MINI stunt driver Russ Swift wowed the crowds at Silverstone this weekend with his MINI tricks. He even grabbed a few people in the crowd to be passengers as he went through his routines. Swift holds three Guinness world records:- Parallel parking in the tightest space, J Turn in the tightest space and the fastest do-nuts. AboutMyArea has photos of the event.

Throttle Osama Bin Laden With Your Throttle

For only $69.95 from American Shifter Company you can outfit your car with the dead Osama bin Laden shift knob. Hurry, thethe company only plans to produce 5,000 of them.

[Source: autoblog]

MINI Nürburgring 24 Results

MINI John Cooper Works Coupé Endurance Car 146, driven by Hendrik Vieth, Ralf Martin, Jürgen Schmarl and Anja Wassertheurer, came in eighth in the SP3T category and 106th overall. MINI John Cooper Works Coupé Endurance Car 147, driven by Fredrik Lestrup, Nico Bastian and Harald Hennes, after five laps started to skid on some oil and hit the barriers. After a long stop for repairs Car 147 finished tenth in the SP3T class after 24 hours and 118th overall.

Other MINIs did not fare well in the race. Only one of Schirra motoring's two MINI John Cooper Works crossed the finish line. Car number 142 finished 34th overall (134 laps), the best result of all MINI race cars. The MINI with the number 154 from s.i.g. Motorsport was in an accident in the early stages of the race and finished 116th overall (109 laps). s.i.g. Motorsport's car number 135 finished 126th overall (105 laps). Dörr Motorsport's MINI finished 105th (114 laps).

[Source: MINI Motorsport]

They Can Wash My MINI Anytime They Like

Hollywood Life has published photos of what it considers "Hollywood’s 8 Sexiest Car Washers Ever."

What's Next? A MINI Pick-up?

Maybe. This modded modern MINI was caught in a supermarket parking lot. More photos are available at The Truth About Cars.

No, Really, It Should Fit

A car transporter doesn't quite fit under the I-430 bridge over Colonel Glenn Road. Little Rock, Arkansas. Wonder whether they discounted the delivery charges on that one?

[Source: Fox16.com via MotorAuthority]

Friday, June 24, 2011

NorCal MINIs' Friday Reminders

Join NorCal MINIs

2011 NorCal MINIs' annual Membership is only $25.00/family.  Use the Paypal Button to join us in 2011:













NorCal MINIs' 2011 Mt. Lassen Overnight

NorCal MINIs has an incredible time planned for a beautiful and economical Mt. Lassen overnight.

We will meet up at 10:00 a.m. on July 9, 2011, at Fantasy Cakes and Fine Pastries in Vacaville, CA. Fantasy Cakes and Fine Pastries is located at 122 South Orchard Ave. Suite B, Vacaville, CA and offers cakes, pastries and cookies that are works of art.










We will then motor to Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant located at 604 Main St., Red Bluff, CA for a magnificent traditional Mexican lunch.


Following lunch we will drive to our accomodations to check in. We have blocked a group of rooms and arranged a group rate of $92/room/night on Saturday for resort accommodations at the Gaia Hotel and Spa located at 4125 Riverside Place, Anderson, CA. This is a beautiful full-service pet friendly, eco-conscious hotel just south of Redding. You must book your room before July 2, 2011 to get this special rate and be guaranteed a room.

 Call toll free 877-778-3977 and tell them you want the NorCal MINIs group rate when you book your room.

As the sun starts to set we will gather at the Sundial Bridge  in Redding and pick up a picnic lunch for Sunday.










After the sun sets we will make our way to dinner at the best family Italian restaurant between Sacramento and the Oregon border-  Nello's Place located at 3055 Bechelli Lane, Redding, CA.










After dinner, if you are so inclined, we will head off to the Post Office Saloon and Grill located at the Downtown Redding Mall, Redding, CA for live music and after-dinner drinks before returning to the Gaia to rest up for Sunday.









Come Sunday morning, weather and road conditions permitting, we will motor to Bumpass Hell in Mt. Lassen National Park. Bumpass Hell is the largest concentration of hydrothermal features in the park. We should see mudpots, fumaroles and boiling lakes on this 1.5 mile hike.

Bring a flashlight because after our hike we will explore the inside of a lava tube - a long tubular cave formed by lava.

Following our lava tube adventure we will motor to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park to have lunch near one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North America.









After lunch we will go to the historic lumber town of McCloud. McCloud is a company built mill town with a rich past. In McCloud, tall pine and old growth forests surround you, and you will experience the scenic splendor of photogenic Mt. Shasta, which towers above town. Local shopkeepers offer a wide range of unusual quality gift items, jewelry, local crafts, antiques and traveling necessities.

Our overnight will end as we return to Interstate 5 at Shasta City.

Don't miss this great adventure. Book early and tell us you are coming in response to your email invitation or, if you are not a member or lost the invitation, by emailing us at info@norcalminis.com.

This looks to be a wonderful weekend motoring escape.  We hope lots of you can make it.

Ft. Bragg - Skunk Train Overnight


NorCal MINIs Fort Bragg Skunk Train Overnight is scheduled for Sat., August 13 through Sun., August 14, 2011 when we will run up the Coast and take the Skunk Train to a catered BBQ in the redwoods. For complete information on this run go here. The overnight is open to all but spaces are limited so book early.

Members, please RSVP to your email invitations. Non-members, please follow the instructions here and email us at info@norcalminis.com to tell us you are coming.