Friday, May 8, 2009
"A Charlady's Car"*
The Mini is 50 today. Apart from a flirtation with a Renault Clio, Our Lad's always driven Minis. He kicked off at 17 with a kumquat-coloured Mark III, and followed that up with a couple of Coopers in which we explored a great deal of Northern England, feeling each and every bump, stone and flattened rabbit on the road the ten-inch wheels went over. The footwells of the Mark III had to be baled out every morning if there'd been rain. In Cooper 2 we pulled away from the chip shop, heard a crack, and watched open-mouthed as the offside front wheel bounced down the road away from us. Still, we always forgave the minis, smiling as you might at the antics of an errant but loveable friend. Our Lad now drives the ruthlessly reliable BMW future-retro version after holding out for several years in disgust at the original's demise.
*Mini designer Alec Issigonis. Cinema's best-ever car chase was still a decade away.