The wife and kids and I went to MINI to the Max at Aloha Tower on Sunday morning, here in Honolulu. It was a mix of a Mini car show, toy drive, and sales event for the local Mini dealership. It was sponsored by the dealership, the local Mini club (Hawaii Mini Motoring Club), and a few others.
One thing I did get a chance to do there was talk about my Mini, and Minis in general. Not hard to do — I love my car, and I love the Mini. And I love my Mini adventures — I put a sheet of paper on the dash, encouraging folks to ask about driving the Alps, or the Ring, or across America, or the Dragon.
I spent some time chatting with a guy who was there with his family. Not a Mini owner, but he is considering one. The dealership invited him to come down – and he was very pleased that he did. At the show, there was just about one of everything — Coopers, Cooper S’s, supercharged, turbo charged, Clubmans, stripes, stock, street racers, etc.
He isn’t in a hurry to buy a car. But he did have a million questions. Gas mileage. Stock / OEM run-flat tires, vs. after market.
I encouraged him to:
Read. Rummage around the Mini website, and check out all of the things.
Ask questions of owners. Find some Mini websites (like NAM, or Coopernation, or a local Mini Club, like the Tar Heels or HMMC) and join in their forums; they’re always receptive to questions from prospective buyers, and the forums probably have questions to answers you haven’t even thought up yet. And go to Mini events in the area — Mini owners tend to be social, and tend to enjoy talking about their cars.
Consider used Minis. Motoringfile has great buyer’s guides, for 2002-2006 Mini Coopers (R50) and Mini Cooper S’s (R53). With 2007 came new engines (turbo, not supercharged) and slowly also some other changes. Nothing wrong with a good, used Mini.
Test drive EVERYTHING. If you’re going to buy new, try one of each. See what heated seats actually feel like, if you’re considering buying them. See how noisy a convertible is at highway speed. Put your foot into a 210-bhp John Cooper Works monster. Make the dealer earn their money, and leave no question unanswered. And if you’re considering used, find the local Mini club and ask folks to take you out for a drive, or to let you try theirs, too.