Posts tagged mini
Andy Strachan and Emily Crouch lined up in Northfleet in their 40-year-old Mini late in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 22.
Ahead of them was a gruelling 96-hour journey to and from Turin, the city immortalised in The Italian Job, the 1969 film starring Michael Caine.
Given that neither of them had driven on the continent before, and the Mini had attempted nothing like the 1,500-mile trip since being prepared by Andy for the marathon to the home of Italian motoring, uncertainty littered the road ahead.
The rally was being organised by Keyline, a subsidiary of Travis Perkins, Andy’s employer, which wants to raise £100,000 for the Prostrate Cancer Charity.
Andy and Emily, who want to raise £1,500, were sponsored by Adrian Flux Insurance Services.
Here is the story of the couple’s Mini adventure, in Andy’s words:
Wednesday, June 22
A small group of cars, including six classic Minis, met up in Northampton at 12pm, arriving in Northfleet – via a stop-off at Minispares at Potters Bar – at 4.20pm.
We were de-briefed, our documents checked and we had some group promotional photos before a tunnel was set-up for all the classic Minis to drive through.
Prostate Cancer Charity spokesman Tommy Walsh was also there to wish us good luck and we were all given charity tins to fill with cash.
We left Northfleet at 5.30pm straight into rush hour, and incorrect traffic information led us straight on to the A2, which was closed due to an accident. Many of the participants took the chance to collect money for charity from stranded travellers.
After getting lost, we finally reached our hotel (and our dinner) in Folkestone at 9.30pm.
Our alarm was set for 3.30am, but it didn’t matter as I woke up at 1.15am and couldn’t get back to sleep!
Thursday, June 23
The first, and longest, day of the rally (without having had much sleep!) and I already knew that we would be cracking open a 24-pack of Red Bull later in the day!
We re-packed the car and had to top up the oil as we had a leak through the timing chain seal.
Off to Dover, and as we got to the terminals I took the wrong turn into the cruise terminal. Luckily Emily spotted our other team members heading in a different direction so I was able to quickly turn our Mini around. We got the to the ferry check-in with 15 minutes to spare.
When we all left the ferry, it was difficult for us to keep up with the main pack, as we were restricted to 55mph. That’s what you get for having a 3.44 differential with 10-inch wheels!
Another oil top-up in Verdun at 3pm after meeting up with the team for a classic French lunch – McDonalds.
The team, minus one car, met up just after Luxeuil-les-Bains, after Emily and I had got some fuel and items for our challenges – something gold (Gourmet Gold branded cat food), something Italian (genuine Italian spaghetti) and exactly 25 litres of fuel (it was a good thing that we had a Jerry can so we could do this task!).
We travelled in a convoy into Vesoul for 8pm, where our team leaders got us lost and it took us an hour to reach our nearby campsite. After a tiring and very long day, I didn’t wake up early the next morning!
Friday, June 24
After waking up at 6am, we washed, packed up our belongings and left the campsite at 7.15am after topping up the Mini with more oil!
We stuck to 50mph and went from France into Switzerland via the nearby border. The journey used reasonably flat roads and we decided not to go via the mountain route, as we did not want to stress our heavily loaded Mini. But as we left Switzerland back into France towards Chamonix, to cross into Italy, we were very surprised to be met by a very high winding mountain road!
Our poor car struggled to pull along in 3rd gear but, as the oil pressure really dropped in 4th, we stuck to 3rd. Although the temperature read normal, we could both smell burning oil. We pulled over two thirds of the way up in a lay-by and gave our poor car a rest. The weather didn’t help as it was bright sunshine and around 30C. It was baking!
As Emily and I admired the scener,, one of our team members appeared and pulled in behind us. They also stopped and opened their car bonnet to air it and have a quick break. They only stopped for 10 minutes before setting off again but we rested for 40 minutes. When we stared off again, the engine temperature was cooler and we were able to use 4th gear. We were grateful that we were nearly at the top when we had stopped. Now it was down hill! The temperature really dropped as a nice breeze was able to get into the engine. As we were cruising through the Alps back into France we played On Days Like These from the Italian Job CD. It seemed very fitting with the fantastic scenery around. Luckily there were no surprise mafia JCBs hiding and waiting for us!
The scenery was stunning – Emily had never seen frozen ice glaciers so close up and in the hot summer weather. As we left Switzerland we entered France into Chamonix and towards the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Our Mini didn’t like it when we stopped to queue up for the Mont Blanc tunnel and the engine temperature started to rise. Luckily we were able to get through the queue, pay (about £30) and drive through the tunnel into Italy without too much of a delay.
Once on the other side we looked for a petrol station. Surprise, surprise, there was a one of our minis there. This was a team leader who was trying to meet up with the rest of his team as so they could get to our Turin destination as a team. Apparently they were further up the A5 Italian towards Turin. As the other mini set-off in pursuit of their teammates, we filled up with fuel and set-off. The engine seemed much hotter now after our brief stop and there were fumes of burning oil coming from the exhaust briefly until we could pick up some speed and cool the engine down.
As we travelled on the A5 toward Turin we passed the other team, all together, having a rest and a chat. We continued past them at our standard 50mph. A little later on they all whizzed past us but the Mini that we had seen in the petrol station seemed to be struggling and pulled-off the motorway. We could see oil fumes from the exhaust and we followed them. When we stopped we informed the drivers of what we saw and recommended that they stick to 50mph like us as to not overwork their engine. They were suffering a loss of engine performance.
We were informed that our convoy lead car had an illegal device – a sat nav! We were able to get to the Lingotto complex (the old Fiat factory) with reasonable ease after a brief detour via the local train station, and soon the great finish line was in sight – the banks of the famous Lingotto rooftop track were in sight.
We all entered the complex, wondering where to access to roof track. Suddenly a security guard appeared on a scooter and pointed us the way. The destination line was so close. No longer leading the convoy we followed the directions and suddenly and spiral ramp appeared inside the building. We all drove up it beeping our horns, with our lights on, windows down and The South Preservation Society blasting from our CD player.
We must have all been surprised to see a large double door opened on the 2nd floor revealing a shopping centre with innocent passers by looking shocked and wondering what was going on.
It was tempting to do a real Italian job stunt and drive through it, but we had already passed it on our way up to get to the track.
We could only use half of the track, the far side had huge concrete bollards and was roof felted, while the straights also had some speed bumps. That didn’t deter us from having fun on the other bank and the partial straights.
I have always respected our Mini and she had done so well to get there. However, it was this girl’s 40th birthday, so I put my foot down and created a huge wheel spin. I powered it around as close to the top of the bank as I dared. Emily was screaming! It was such fun but I only did that the once. I drove our Mini respectably again after that and being the only white classic Mini, we were requested for all of the promotional photo shots.
Dinner was served at 8.30pm where we all wore fancy dress from the classic film. There were many in blue boiler suits and helmets and a couple of Camp Freddies. The star had to be an older gentleman as Mr Bridger in his smoking jacket with a toilet roll and The Times newspaper. Emily had dressed as Lorna and I as Big William.
Saturday, June 25
After breakfast, it was time to head home via a more direct route. It was another scorcher of a day, so we again travelled at 50mph with small stops to let our car cool down.
We only took one wrong turn in the village where we were staying so there was minimal panic.
The scenery was yet again very beautiful throughout the day and travelling at 50mph you can really to appreciate it.
Sunday, June 26
The dash for the finish line!
Unlike the campsite from the previous night, where we were unable to leave until 7am, we could leave this site at any time. As our Mini was speed restricted, we left the site at 5.30am, and used the direct motorway route as we had to be in Calais for noon for the finish.
We knew that all of the other cars would over-take us at some point.
As we got to the first service station we were surprised to see a convoy of classic Minis arrive hot on our tales as we were getting ready to push on. Many cars over took us en-route to the finish line and we decided to make the bold decision to increase our speed from 50mph to 55mph.
There weren’t many service stations on the way back and I was so grateful that I had our Jerry can of full of fuel in the boot. We would have really been in trouble without it! After cracking on again with minimal stops, we got to Calais ferry port at 11.45.
We made it!
When I say the Italian Job, most people think of Michael Cain, Mini’s and some breathtaking Italian scenery… Well this Italian Job has two thirds of those, it is a Mini car rally raising money for children’s charities. This Italian Job is a 10 day navigation time trial through various Italian cities that are featured in the film of the same name (original not the 2003 remake). The event has been running for 20 years and has raised well over £20 million for children’s charity KidsOut.
The 2009 Italian Job event saw over 200 Mini drivers and navigators, one of which was an Adrian Flux customer, Anthony Suckling, accompanied by his son and the Mini’s owner James. In return for sponsorship, the Mini was branded up with Adrian Flux stickers which you’ll be able to see below…
Anthony and James managed to raise a brilliant £2500 for KidsOut and came 13th out of 60 in the navigation rally, in their first attempt at the event. The 2009 rally managed to raise between £200,000 and £250,000. Anthony also told us that this provided many ‘money-can’t-buy’ moments, like driving around the old banked track at Monza.
The website says that ‘The event gives the opportunity to make new friends, explore new places and improve your driving/navigational skills. It’s about visiting off the beaten track places in your fantastic Minis and of course it’s a fun way to raise money for a really good cause!’
So I suggest if you have an old Mini and a spare couple of weeks in late October, you should really give this rally a go!
Although the scrappage scheme is mainly a good thing, people are buying new cars, there’s plenty of scrap metal around… One problem is that I can see a lot of nice cars, and potential classics being scrapped in favour of shiny new models. I had a trawl through a certain well known private car selling site and looked for any cars I could buy for under £2000, the minimum you’ll get on a scrappage deal. Here is a list of some of my favourite findings that could be in serious danger of becoming scrap metal:
1997 Alfa Romeo Spider ConvertibleThis car is simply beautiful! It has gorgeous curves, a good interior and a very reasonable 2.0 L engine with close to 150hp… and best of all, unlike the Alfa’s you can buy today, the number plate is in a conventional and better looking place!
1996 Fiat Coupé
A stylish Italian sports coupé with a curvy body and a stylish Pininfarina interior, still looking great 16 years after its introduction. Power is very respectable throughout the range, with the top 2.0 L 20V turbo version excelling to a massive 220hp.
1991 Jaguar XJS
A great Jaguar despite being overshadowed by it’s predecessor, the E-Type and it’s successor, the XK8. It has a smooth flowing body, and the typical mix of wood and leather interior typical of a Jag. Although sales struggled initially, it has become ever more popular with age and has matured like a fine wine. Although the economy is poor to say the least, about 10mpg in the earlier models, this car should be treasured.
1998 Rover Mini
There isn’t really much to say about saving the Rover Mini. This is one of the greatest stories in British engineering and it is sad to see the Mini being scrapped. A similar scheme in Italy saw thousands of Innocenti Mini’s being scrapped, we’ve got to hope that doesn’t happen here!
1990 BMW 3 Series (E30)
This is one of my favourites from the list, I love the E30. Altough there were plenty of E36‘s and a few E46‘s for under 2k, but I would be very sad if this car was scrapped. The M3 E30 is the real classic and anyone that scraps one of the those should be strung up, these great looking 3-Series also deserve to be savoured.
1992 Mitsubishi GTO
The GTO is a technically advanced Japanese sports coupe, and was created to rival the Nissan Skyline, Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra. With a 3.0 L V6 with 290hp in top spec and all-wheel drive, this car is undeniably fun. I would have thought that the only way this car would be scrapped is because it was wrapped around a tree, but there were loads of GTO’s available for less than the 2k mark, sad isn’t it?
1996 Mazda MX-5
My last choice is the MX-5, for simple reasons. It’s fun, nippy, cheap to run and you can even feel the wind in your hair! A real contender to be a true classic in years to come, unless of course they all get turned into little metal cubes like that poor little car in the advert!
Feel free to give me some of your suggestions…
Updated June 2012 with latest prices
There’s no getting away from it. Car insurance for 17 year olds is expensive. The simple fact is, the youngest drivers on our roads are, on the whole more dangerous, owing to their understandable lack of experience behind the wheel.
But if you are a young driver, there are things you can do to help yourself. First off, do an advanced driving course, like PassPlus, Btec level II, IAM, RoSPA or Max Driver. By getting extra skills and experience, you’ll be making yourself a safer driver and young drivers will save much more than the cost of the course on their first insurance premium.
Second, take a limited mileage policy if you can commit to driving less than, say 1500, 3,000 or 5,000 miles a year. This will save you money, and is a more convenient way of getting a discount than installing a “Pay as You Drive” black box into your car, where some insurers will discount for a limited mileage but can stop you driving at particular times of the day!!
Joining an owners club can drop your premium by up to 15%, parking your car in the garage will probably save you more than your dad, and fitting an alarm will bring down the premium too. Also adding a parent onto the policy will further reduce your premium.
So far, so good, but there are some factors you can’t, or are unlikely to change. You can’t make yourself any older, and you probably don’t want to move house just to get cheaper car insurance. So that leaves the car that you choose as the main factor in determining the price you will pay.
So what is the cheapest car to insure. We did some research and the result may surprise you.
The cheapest car to insure, for a teenage driver, is, by a country mile, the classic VW Beetle. Other classics have also done well, with the Ford Anglia coming in 3rd and the Citroen 2CV6 coming 4th, but it’s not just a list of bangers with respectable modern motors like the Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 106 and the quirky Vauxhall Agila all doing very well.
Of course, not all classic beetles are all that old – production continued in Mexico and Brazil right up to 2003, and some enthusiasts import these to the UK enjoying the classic Beetle styling and air-cooled power, with a few (slightly) more modern creature comforts. Check out mexibugs, for more details.
Here is the list of cars, you’ll notice that almost all of them are low powered 1 litre engines – if you go for a more powerful car too soon, your premium will accelerate faster than your car, for example, if that Renault 5 at number nine were the turbo version, the premium for a bloke would be £4,000, so watch out. All the quotes below are for Third Party Fire & Theft Cover for a 17 year old driver living in a moderate-to-low risk area in a white collar occupation and assume the car is valued at less than £5,000.
|Car model / engine size||Male||Female|
|Volkswagen Beetle (old shape, up to 1600cc)||1450||1000|
|Ford Anglia 1000cc||1890||850|
|Vauxhall Agila 1000c||1980||1500|
|Vauxhall Corsa 1000c||1980||1500|
|Hyundai Amica 1000c||2030||1530|
|Hyundai Atoz 1000c||2030||1530|
|Fiat 126 0652cc||2030||950|
|Austi Mini 1000cc||2150||1150|
|Citroen C1 1000cc||2170||1200|
|Renault Clio 1149cc||2220||1630|
|Daewoo Matiz 1000cc||2200||1680|
|Peugeot 106 1000cc||2250||1700|
|Fiat uno 1000cc||2250||1500|
|Fiat Panda 1000cc||2250||1700|
|Volkswagen Fox 1200cc||2280||1290|
|Suzuki Alto 1000cc||2350||1770|
|Volkswagen Lupo 1000cc||2350||1550|
|Seat Ibiza 1000cc||2350||1680|
|Daihatsu Cuore 1000cc||2600||1640|
|Toyota Aygo 1000cc||2600||1120|
While it seems unlikely that we’ll get a new Morris Minor anytime soon, there is mixed news for fans of the 2CV, which has received a modern update that Citroen apparently like, although nothing concrete has been forthcoming as yet.
For Fiat 500 fans, though the news is excellent, with the new 500 due in 9 months. And unlike the 90′s incarnation of the Cinquecento, this one will get all its styling cues from the Italian classic. Mechanically, though, components will be shared with the Fiat Panda and the new Ford Ka. You can find tons of classic Fiat 500 stuff here.
These eminently sensible cost saving measures mean that, unlike the MINI and Beetle, which have re-emerged as luxury hatches with a premium price tag, the Fiat Nuovo 500 will remain a true car for the people – the projected price tag is a mere £5000 – cheap enough to attract a whole new generation of young Topolino fans.
Fiat have put together a fantastic site, where you can play around with the design elements of the car, play cool games and competitions, and even try your hand at designing some sticker graphics – if your artwork is the best they’ll stick it on a real car.
Because Flux had the only stand with a £20k pimped ride (most of the others just had leaflets) a large crowd formed around the luminous orange glow. But it wasn’t just PDA’s permatan attracting attention, as the kids were trying to watch DVD’s through the tinted windows of the Mini too.
Matt of Ghost Concept, who built the car for us, is currently showing her off at the British Motor Show at ExCel in London’s Docklands, and is due to take her to a host of other shows over the coming months including Mini in the Park. Make sure you get a look at this car if you possibly can, because it looks absolutely stunning in the flesh.
To stand a chance of winning this unbelievable Mini and a year’s free insurance, just answer this simple question:
A gang of thieves used Mini Coopers as their getaway cars in which famous film?
a. The Lord of the Rings
b. The Italian Job
c. Independence Day
Text the word MINI followed by a, b or c to:
* Free insurance included up to the value of £500. + All texts charged at £1.50 each, plus standard operator’s rate. Please read the competition rules for full terms and conditions.