The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

“Things,” as a general rule aren’t supposed to be the foundation for your happiness. Focusing on acquiring this or that to make your life complete leads to a shallow and venal existence of trying to chase the high of possession with the next possession and the one after that until all you have is stuff that you can’t remember why you bought it in the first place.

That being said, many, “Things,” in my life give me great pleasure and have been well worth the money invested in them. Like my camera which allows me to get shots like the one below.

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Or my V-Strom which has taken me all over the US and Canada to some pretty spectacular places and which has run pretty much flawlessly through some truly heinous weather and tough terrain.

And then there’s my love of the Mini Cooper S. While my love of Ferrari and Porsche have been strong my love of the Mini Cooper S has been enduring. I saw my first Mini in a rally in Scotland my Papa had taken me to when I was about seven. It was coming off of a small hump in the track all but sideways to make the hard turn into a sharp corner. It left in a shower of mud and gravel and the smell of Castrol and gasoline (to this day, still two of my favourite smells). I’ve been a fan ever since.

For some reason and certainly not one where I consciously planned it that way, the majority of my cars have been manual transmissions. I prefer a manual over an automatic. It feels more like driving to me and always has.

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Minis are a funny car. Even used, they tend to be high mileage. The reason is simple, they’re stupid fun to drive and people find themselves making up excuses to just go drive somewhere. So when I purchased the above 03 Cooper S it had over 200,000km on the clock and it would be my daily driver for the next three years. It weighed just under 2800 lbs and pushed 163 bhp out of it’s 1.6L Supercharged engine and yes, it was stupid fun to drive. Unfortunately, all complex systems move towards entropy. I’d noticed it was leaking a bit of oil from the engine. I knew it possibly had a leak by the valve cover but the word back from my mechanic was much worse. It had multiple gaskets that had failed or were in the course of failing and it was coming up on time to replace the timing chain in the motor. The bill for all of this exceeded the value of the car. Not good news at all.

I started to look through the auto ads to see about a newer replacement. I’d decided to look for a 2010 Cooper S. The prices weren’t bad and there was a decent selection to choose from in the market.

My wife was also looking for me though she was choosing a much more direct route through BMW. “What about this one?” She asked and showed me a 2016 John Cooper Works Mini being sold in Ottawa.

“Well yeah,” I replied. “That would be amazing but it’s well above what I was going to spend.” She then went on about some stuff to do with our finances but really all I had heard at that point was, “You can buy the car of your dreams.”

I fired off an inquiry to the Ottawa dealership via email and figured I’d hear back the next day.

There were a couple of other JCW Minis being sold in St. Catherines down by Niagara so I fired off an email to them as well. Bear in mind, this was about 8pm at night. I got a call from their sales manager twelve minutes later. Usually I only get this kind of response time when I’m buying 3D CAD software. An appointment was made to view their stock that Saturday.

Now I’ve bought a few cars but I’ve never been treated like I was at Mini of St. Catherines. Maybe it’s because they know you’re there to buy a specific marque of car but there was zero pressure and certainly none of the sort of car sale antics you sort of expect. They made it all very easy.

Colin and I took the 2016 JCW for a test drive (Yes, the one below, so you know how that turned out). I’ve never been in a car where it felt like I was holding it back like this one and I hadn’t even engaged the exhaust gate. By comparison, the 2017 I test drove next felt sedate.

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The JCW comes in at just under 2900 lbs with 228 bhp from a 2.0L engine. However with the performance package, the output is bumped to 240 bhp and when the twin turbos kick in, this thing launches.

Every time I drive it, it makes me grin. The next step is to get it out on a track to do some laps. It’s all a bit mad but man is it fun.

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