Tag Archives: MINI Clubman

Car Spot: 1992 Mini Cooper

If ever there was an iconic British car, this is it …

I was surprised when I started writing this article that fuel shortages are nothing new. It was one in 1956 that was the push British Motor Corp. needed to develop the Mini. Introduced in 1959, it was the car’s space-saving transverse engine and front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80% of the car’s floor pan to be used for passengers and luggage, that influenced a generation of car makers.

1992 Mini Cooper
Please do not touch but please take me home.

So Sir Leonard Lord of the Morris Co. issued his top engineer, Alec Issigonis, a challenge: design and build a small, fuel-efficient car capable of carrying four adults, within the economic reach of just about everyone. As fate would have it, the challenge of fitting so much function into such a small package inspired a couple of historic innovations.

RELATED Spot: Its upscale British cousin, the Bently S1

The car and company have gone through a few owners. Originally made by BMC, thata firm becamse part of British Motor Holdings in 1966. It then merged with Leyland Motors in 1968 to form British Leyland. In the 1980s British Leyland broke up, and in 1988 Rover Group, including Mini, was acquired by British Aerospace, yup the same company that makes jets. Mini models included the Morris Mini-Minor, the Austin Seven, the Countryman, Moke, 1275GT, and Clubman. Through a partnership with British racing legend John Cooper, a number of performance models were introduced. The original Mini continued in production until 2000.

RELATED Spot: Its more famous relative.

1992 Mini Cooper logo

More changes came in 1994 when the Rover Group was acquired by BMW with BMW retaining the Mini brand. Development of a modern successor to the Mini began in 1995 and an entirely new Mini was launched in 2001 by BMW.

1992 Mini Cooper interior
Rare right-hand drive model in the US.

It remains a cult classic today. I found this 1992 example for sale at a shop that specializes in classic cars. Not a lot of miles and with a price tag of $22 grand perhaps a bit on the high side since the most expensive ’92 I found on Bring a Trailer was $19,000. Still not a lot of money for a car that is a ton of fun and sure to get noticed at any Cars and Coffee event or summer car show.

1992 Mini Cooper rear
An iconic shape from the front and back,

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another one of my spots along with some of the history of the vehicle. Tell your friends and have a great weekend.


#Mini Cooper



2014 Fiat 500L Lounge

Fiat goes long with 500L (get it?) to connect with more buyers

The 500L fairly dwarfs Fiat's standard 500 model.
The 500L fairly dwarfs Fiat’s standard 500 model.

Credit Fiat for quickly deducing that its cute, but diminutive, 500 runabout simply won’t do for many U.S. families. The Italian automaker that owns Chrysler needed something that would cast a wider net when trying to land more customers on our shores.

Voila! The 500L!

This is a small crossover or wagon much along the lines of MINI’s Clubman. That’s to say it’s boxy and big enough to hold four adults and some groceries under the hatch. It remains cute, like the MINI is cute, but no one will mistake it for the much smaller Fiat 500 that its name implies it descends from.

But this is a different beast in that at 167.1 inches the 500L is nearly two feet longer, plus a little wider and taller, than the tiny 500. The 500L rides on a much larger 102.8-inch wheelbase, a little shorter than a Subaru Forester, for example, and nearly a foot longer than Fiat’s 500. The L is no featherweight either, at 3,203 lbs. it’s about 900 lbs. heavier than its smaller sibling.

I parked the 500L next to a standard MINI in a fast food parking lot and was amazed at how much larger the Fiat looked.

What all this size means is that the 500L rides well, but remains a good handler, like its smaller model, the 500. The suspension does a surprisingly good job of soaking up our roads’ numerous imperfections. Some larger crossovers and small utes don’t feel this well controlled. As with the 500 model, this one’s ride quality surprises. Continue reading 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge