Bargain of the Week – Mini Cooper

A guy was talking to me the other day and asked my advice, which can be dangerous, about what car to buy next. He was looking for something easy to drive, compact, cheap to insure and had a little ‘fizz’. I could have reeled off a right old list of nonsense but instead of naming the usual suspects I took his email address and went off to have a think.

Sure, you’ve got your Peugeot’s, Renault’s, Vauxhalls et al, but the answer sometimes lies right in front of you, or so they say. It wasn’t until I had a look on the internet that I realised how cheap ‘new’ Mini’s are, or should that be BMW-Mini? The fact is I’m not sure. Anyway, we’ve had the ‘new’ Mini with us for what will be ten years, this year. Hard to believe.

Prices are good, too. With early 2000 models starting at under four-grand, in my opinion they’re an absolute bargain. Insurance wise, better to choose the Mini One, but stretch your budget ever so slightly and pick the 1.6 Cooper. Not because of the famous moniker on the boot lid, but the Cooper packs the absolute perfect hot-hatch, back to basics combination. No turbochargers, no fancy camshaft technology, just a Chrysler-based, simple 1600 with just over 100bhp. Doesn’t seem to have the cool credentials I know, especially with an American connection under the bonnet, but with a no nonsense drive, the first generation Cooper should get much more respect for what it does so well. I should know, I have two.

We obviously can’t get away with the BMW connection yet it has to be said the German company has undoubtedly done the best marketing job in the last, well, ten years. They still sell the two brands together, albeit in separate showrooms, but that has given Mini the kudos that it has, and is one of the reasons it’s so successful. Ten years does sound better than a decade, but the Mini, or whatever you decide to tag it, is a fantastic car to own, and that neatly brings me to what has fashionably become the very late BOTW.

Scouring the internet and I’ve found a fabulous Mini Cooper but you’ll have to read the spec with a cup of tea in hand when you’re looking for one because there’s plenty of factory options floating around: Chilli and Pepper Pack, Union Jack roof decals, white wheels, etcetera, etcetera. Even so most come with all the usual toys. Needless to say I’ve seen a few that fit the bill and although they’ve racked up the miles, it is hard to say, no. That just leaves me to mention that I’ve emailed the guy I mentioned at the start and he’s off for a test drive at the weekend, splendid.

Just before you read the ad below, just bear this in mind that the Mini might have its German connection and spawned all manner of ridiculous and pointless off spring, but every other car manufacturer wants a slice of the Mini market. Why spend twelve-grand plus on a new one when all you need to do is splash out as little as four-grand and own the original. Well, not quite the original from the 60s, but you catch my drift.

Mini Cooper

Ad reads:
83,500 miles, Chilli Red Mini Cooper with Black roof and wing mirrors, 2002, 83500 miles, Tax to May, MOT to April, Serviced last June 09. Petrol, Manual, Air Con, Alloy Wheels, Body coloured bumpers, PAS, Passenger airbag, ABS, Alarm & Immobiliser, CD, Electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking. Very good condition. £3,950

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