Each and every one of us has our own sanctuary for the days when life is crap. For some it’s music or mastering a new recipe. But if you’re reading this, your sanctuary is probably something with an engine.
This stunning 1979 Mini Cooper S MkII is my friend Paul’s. He is a delightfully humble man, who after five minutes of chatting will be quite happy to drive this Mini Cooper S with you strapped in as if you’re storming through the mountain stages of the Monte Carlo rally sticking it to Lancia.
Paul lives and works on a farm estate in Norfolk. If you’re reading this from across the pond, this isn’t the kind of place most of us Brits live. However, the grounds of country homes and back lanes are great for hill climbs and time trials...
They’re perfect for pushing the best hot hatch to ever exist, to the limit – The Mini Cooper S. You’ve heard it all before; the direct steering, light and predictable handling and of course the god awful seating position. However, pushing a small car to its limits, with a minute growling engine is the perfect way to clear your head.
Paul has fettled this Mini into a reliable joy whilst keeping the appearance timeless. The result has to be one of the best drivers cars in existence. It’s had the engine rebuilt, ported and fitted with a stage 3 head. It’s also got a race camshaft installed from an original works Mini. Combined with some sticky tires and subtly bolstered seats and other adjustments, this is the best version of the original I have ever driven.
My friends and I had them growing up and you couldn’t have a better first car. It’s bouncy, noisy and visceral. Plus, when you’re being controlled by your genitalia as a teenager to race your mates around back roads it is perfect!
Name another car where it’s a perk that once over 60mph the wing mirrors start flapping like a dogs chops with its head out the window.
This car oozes taste and class and could be driven by anyone without judgment. The Beatles each owned one, so did the Queen.
The first time I drove Paul’s Mini, the clutch master cylinder died. I thought that maybe we should call for a tow, but with a big smile on his face Paul proceeded to rev match the gears and get the car home. It’s all about driving for fun however you can.
Driving a Mini is a great way to just let go and not be pretentious with car choices. Take a trip back to the 60’s and buy a small sporty hatchback. Go drive it hard on some fun roads and when it breaks (because it will), get some inexpensive parts and go again!