Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen Editor
3/8/22 12:47 p.m.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Grassroots Mototsports.]

The original Mini helped bring efficient, front-wheel-drive design to the masses. It officially left our shores at the end of the 1967 model year, but it soldiered on in the U.K. until 2000. Shortly thereafter, a completely new version roared back into our lives and became …

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DrBoost MegaDork
3/8/22 4:43 p.m.

I could have used this article a month or two ago. I added this to my stable. 

ddavidv UltimaDork
3/8/22 6:35 p.m.

Everything you need to know:  AVOID. laugh

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/8/22 9:05 p.m.
ddavidv said:

Everything you need to know:  AVOID. laugh

I like R50s a lot.  They remind me of an 80s Golf so much that when I drive one and go to park it, I find myself instinctively trying to push the shifter down and trying to shift to the left of 1st gear to get to Reverse.

Given that I lived with one (Golf, that is) for about 75k and still consider it one of the best front drive cars ever, one can consider this to be high praise.


OTOH, they seem to be all SORTS of expensive to repair, since OEM parts seem to be the only ones that work.  And the power steering system is borderline asinine, as there is a cooling fan to keep the electric pump from overheating as it is right next to the exhaust manifold, but fluid drool from the reservoir hose coats it with fluid, which collects grime, which kills the fan motor, which slowly kills the pump...

mikeonabikesmith New Reader
3/8/22 10:50 p.m.

I also could have used this a handful of months back. I can't tell yet if these truly are problematic or if the owners are particularly winey. It's no miata but so far the maintenance has been easy enough... outside this parasitic drain that might drive me absolutely insaine.

Chris_V UberDork
3/9/22 6:46 a.m.

Love the MINIs, with my favorite being the late 2nd gen cars. One thing that I always recommend is to get the latest of whatever generation you are looking for. For the first gen cars, that's the '05-06 (up to '08 for convertibles) and the '11-13 (up to '15 for the convertibles and roadsters) for 2nd gen cars. Most of the problematic areas were usually taken care of by then in each generation. Easy to work on with a huge following making DIY repairs as easy as getting OEM or better parts and following along with one of the myriad of videos out there. As was mentioned, maintenance is really easy for most of them (the early 2nd gen cars with the N14 engine are kind of an exception as those engines need special care it seems).

Lots of aftermarket companies for them, too, so you can build anything from a real track rat to a full on show car with ease.

I love my '13 JCW Roadster and after all the cars I've owned over the years, I've realized that even if I won the lottery, this would be the preferred car to have fun in.



350z247 Reader
7/6/22 2:50 p.m.

They're good cars, but I would never have one as an only car, especially for a commute longer than 30 minutes. Mine has tried to stand me way too many times from a burnt exhaust valve turning it into a 3 cylinder to a cannibalistic alternator. I'm swapping the garbage Tritec for a K20 which will solve 95% of the problem areas. A slick top R50 would be a great starting point.

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