Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bigger Is Not Better.

The Mini (Morris and Minor) was originally designed with economy in mind. Economy of price and economy of materials, which of course, go hand-in-hand. The original Mini had no window crank, but had a divided sliding window, and no interior door handle, but a cord instead. Two doors, a matchbox-sized trunk, and the motor turned on a 90 degree angle to a conventional car made the Mini a paragon of mindful design. It wasn't the giant muscle cars that were popular and presitigious in America, but post-WWII Britain was still in ration mode, and a petrol crisis had just passed. The Mini's introduction was perfect timing.

I loved Minis. I still do. I've not been in a new Mini yet. I was hell bent and determined to own one when I lived in England in '99-'00, so when it actually came to pass that I needed a car, it wasn't looking for just any car: I was looking for a Mini.

I had a ball in the shittiest car in the United Kingdom. It was black with a checkered roof, dots on the doors and racing stripes on the hood. It cost me £400, and it was probably worth half that.

This little trip down memory boulevard is brought to you by the release of the new Mini Clubman. The original Mini Clubman was a slightly longer and larger verion of the wee Mini, with a two-door back door system. The marketers called it a 4-door. (Sneaky buggers.)

I am pleased that the re-made Mini is such a success that it has an opportunity to have as many incarnations as the original. There's the basic Mini, a zippier Cooper, and now this Clubman.

If anyone's still searching for a gift, my birthday is coming up.

(This is absurd, of course. I don't need or want a car. Well, for a Mini, I might just park it and watch its wonder.)

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