Beloved Mini has a mind of its own
Ann Midson has had a string of Mini dramas after owning one of the iconic British pork pies of a car for more than a decade.
The Whangarei woman is steeling herself to say goodbye to the much-loved car that is nearing 40-years old.
James, as it is called, has been parked for most of the year while its owner zips around in her smart new Fiat.
“The Fiat is everything that the Mini used to be,” says Ms Midson wistfully, as she delivers her old car to a mechanic “to give its insides a bit of a tickle“.
The car was named after a 4-year old boy: “Very keen, eager, totally innocent, good fun and up for all sorts of adventures, as little boys are.”
Ms Midson has had a love affair with Minis since she was 6 years old and two uncles who both owned Clubmans took her to a big Mini meet. They lifted her up so she could see one car’s roof, metallic jewel-like colours swirling over a brilliant blue base. It was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen.
“I fell in love Minis then and always wanted one.”
There were a few “just a car“experiences before she bought her cream coloured, vinyl roofed Mini while living in Auckland. Among many other joys of Mini-hood she would discover was the gold painted roof under the tatty vinyl.
The seat covers have been changed a few times — “The tiger stripes were the best“— and every couple of years something mechanical has needed attention.
“I’ve put up with all sorts of issues because that’s just how it is.”
It’s had a kink in its accelerator cable from time to time. There is no real mystery to the car’s allure, she said.
“It’s the most incredible thing to drive. You’re sitting down low on the road, it makes a fabulous roaring sound, it’s very physical to drive, you are very much part of the experience.”
It’s a conversation piece. She’d like a dollar for every time some old fellow has come up and said “my first car was a Mini“.
Possibly her funniest Mini-time was when she had parked it quickly one day and dashed into a building for a meeting. From an upstairs window she glanced out and noticed her car was facing the opposite direction and was in a different car space. She went out to check and found she had not fully engaged the hand brake.
On a very slight gradient, the Mini had rolled back on a perfect 80 degree angle, “and parked itself very sweetly and quite perfectly in another parking space“. “A man who had seen the car switch carparks all on its own said ‘I thought I was on Candid Camera!”‘ Ms Midson said.
“As I walked away I said to the car, ‘I told you not to do that when people are around’.”
She’s probably got a story for every year she has owned the car. Soon, some other owner might rack up another set of tales. There is no real hurry and no hard and fast sales plan at this stage, Ms Midson says. In the charming, quixotic, slightly obsessed manner of Mini ownership, it is likely to be more a case of seek and ye shall find.