What The Hell Do I Do With This

Guys, guys, guys, guys, guys! Holy shit, I bought a car with an automatic transmission! Can you believe it? WTF brand of artisanal crack was I smoking when that happened. Like, seriously, what the actual (delete expletive)?!?

Dear dbmini.us reader & whiteroofradio.com listener,

You weren’t dreaming. One of the loudest members of Team Manual Transmission (TMT) has actually gone the other way and purchased a car with an automatic transmission. A MINI no less. With an automatic.

(Sorry, I am still slightly coming to grips with this myself)

Since 1995, I have only owned 3 cars with an automatic, and the new R59 is one of them. And, if I’m honest, I am having some struggles with it. Which I will list for you now, and in no particular order.

I think I’m going to stall

When coming to a stop, I’m still amazed that the car doesn’t stall because I did not depress the clutch. Of course, this MINI doesn’t have a clutch, but my brain doesn’t know that. Yet.

Power in the corners

Or, rather, a lack of power in the corners. Halfway through a corner I get on the gas and acceleration doesn’t start until I have fully exited said corner. I have yet to test this with the sport button on and the shifter in the left hand position, but in full auto this is how it works. Not going to lie, this is taking some getting used to.

Hard acceleration is awesome.

Please allow me to remember the feeling of having more than 120HP. Even with the A/C on, this MINI can boogie. Really getting on it, in a straight line, is a hoot! Nice that I don’t have to worry about shifts and can keep both hands on the wheel.

Keeping both hands on the wheel in a corner

Speaking of, I’m still not used to taking corners without having to deal with a shift before or after said corner. I’m hoping I don’t pull a cars and coffee style spin out in front of a Dunkin Donuts or anything.

(P)ark

Right. When I stop, need to put the transmission into the spot marked P.

Brake

Right, if the car is in park, I don’t have to sit in the parking lot with my foot on the brake while I put on my sunglasses or turn on my music. See above.

Traffic

Again, if I’m honest, an automatic is better for my daily crawl. I’m less frustrated because you drive like an idiot and make me have to continually row the gears.

I’m still a better driver than you

Let’s face it, the automatic transmission has made the American driver a lazy pile of crap that likes to tail gate, drive with both feet (accelerate with the brake lights on is still my favorite) and stop 4 car lengths back so they can creep up, 4 inches at a time. These are all problems that I thought were due to the automatic transmission. But, you know what, they aren’t. I drive an automatic and don’t do any of those things. Oddly enough, I drive pretty much the same as I did with the manual, just without having to shift. It’s not the transmission, it is the driver.

The last thing to do with the automatic is get it out for a track day. I’m not sure I can get one in before the season is over, but I’m going to give it a shot. And you know I’ll get back to you as soon as I do.

First Wash

Took longer than I wanted to get this done, but did my first drive way wash with the new Roadster this weekend. Nothing fancy, just a bucket and a hose. And I have some notes.

  • The top is in desperate need of some 303. It acted like a sponge when the water hit it.
  • Overall, the paint is in pretty good shape. I did find a couple of small dents but nothing to get in a snit over.
  • Unlike the last MINI, this one has been taken care of on the outside. It might have been awhile, but it has seen the business end of claybar.
  • So. Much. Chrome. Seriously, this car has more chrome than my ’65 El Camino. Most of it is ok, but some bits need polishing*.
  • Black Conical Spoke wheels are super easy to clean.

With AMVIV coming up next month, I still have plenty of time to get him a full detail. Clay bar, a little polish (boot and bonnet need the machine) and a coat or 2 of NXT.

*Yes, polishing of the chrome. Even the bits that will be black after Todd get done. If it’s going to be there, you’re damned right you’ll need sunglasses to look at it. #becausechrome

Changes

When last we met, you already knew that I was trying to get out of Bruce and into something different. If you play the DonBurnside™ home game, you already know what happened. But, because I’m a giant nerd and am feeling the need to write, you get the words.

I did a bit more research on this guy before I rolled in. Our man Brian Dallas hooked me up with a full VIN history (this MINI is very well taken care of). With that, and other research that shows this MINI started life as a MINIUSA mule (possible press car), and that it was CPOd when acquired by a local dealer, I was in good shape.

For the financing, let’s just say I got a proper APR this time around. Not as good as it can be, but really close. Close enough that you would be impressed.

Oh yea, the car. It’s a 2013 MINI Cooper Roadster S. The original sticker price on this MINI was right at $40K when it was new, which means it is loaded. And, when I say loaded, it really has all the things.

  • Heated leather seats
  • MINI Connected, Nav, HK
  • MINI Yours steering wheel
  • Sport pack
  • Automatic transmission
  • Everything else

The color is called Kite Blue and it is quite striking no matter how you look at it.

And yes, it has an automatic. I know, I know! I can already hear you screaming…

“But db, an AUTOMATIC? I thought you hated the automatic!?!?”

So, here’s the thing there. Since 2003 I have driven MINIs with Manual transmissions. In rain, in sleet, in snow, across the US and on F1 circuits in Europe. Awesome times. Until it comes time to use this car for actual transportation back and forth to work. My current commute is a 20 mile crawl that usually takes me about an hour each direction. And I’m over the whole shifting thing in traffic. Seriously. Over. It. That plus some medical things make the automatic a good choice for me at this time.

I’ve only spent a few hours with it so far but can tell you it is a joy to drive. The last roadster I drove was the MotoringFile company car, which was a JCW. While that car was a blast to drive, I am finding the standard S to be slightly more forgiving and joyous for normal driving.

A quick shout-out to my squad for the sounding board and advice when it came time to start dropping offers. The slack channel was very busy for a few days!

Before you ask…

  • No mechanical mods planned at this time
  • This car does not yet have a sex designation
  • Or a name

While no mechanical mods are planned, I am in agreement with the boys about this. So. Much. Chrome.

AMVIV is coming up which means Todd will be performing some black-out magic and, very possibly, some stripes.

The Value of MINI

Back in 2003, I bought my first MINI. Got it to 100,000 miles in the first 2 years. Just for grins, I recall running it through Kelly Blue Book to see what it was worth. If memory serves, I believe it was showing up as having a trade-in value close to $15,000. Not bad for 100K miles.

Fast forward to 2012 when she had over 200K miles. I believe KBB had given me a trade in value of about $4,000.

Fast forward to this week when I ran Bruce through KBB. 9 years old, 100K miles. KBB gives me a trade in value of about $2,200 or less!

What happened to the value of MINI?

The first generation MINIs really held their value. Like a BMW back in the early ’00s. Now, not so much. Possibly due to reliability issues of the R5X cars? Possibly due to the overall lack of build quality? Possibly due to MINI dealers offering incentives? I really don’t know the cause, I only know the affect. And I’m getting killed.


I bought Bruce for several reasons.

  • Roxy needed another $1200 repair that I wasn’t about to pay
  • Bruce is an R56 Cooper with a manual transmission and no sunroof. A rare find.
  • The price was right
  • I was beginning to rebuild my credit

The interest that I am paying on the loan would make most of you shudder, but for me I was amazed I was able to get it as low as it is. I was expecting credit card levels and am below that. But, now I am upside-down 4x over on that car and my credit is substatially better. And since I don’t really like this car anyway (a story for another time), time to do something about it.

Earlier this week I found a 2013 MINI Cooper Roadster that ticked all of the boxes I was looking for.

  • It’s an S
  • It has HK
  • It has cloth seats
  • It has an automatic (another story for another time)

It’s Black and is in amazingly good shape. The previous owners probably never used sport mode on the transmission from what I could tell. Runs great, everything works, no leaks, top is in good shape. The only issue was some pretty good shaking starting around 80MPH that is probably due to a balance or alignment issue.

Listed for right about $16K, I do my research on the VIN and KBB, where it shows a trade-in value less than $12K. Which means if I pay the full purchase price, drive it down the street to In-N-Out for lunch and come back to use it as a trade-in for another car, I would be out almost $5K!

So I offered $12K. It was declined, as you would have expected. The sales manager thought I wasn’t very smart, telling me the dealer was into this MINI for $15K already and blah blah blah. I told him I knew that car had been on the lot for 30 days and the weather in Arizona will be turning from convertible weather to not in very short order. I thanked them for their time and left. I expect they will give me a call today or tomorrow with some kind of counter offer. If they do not, then I’ll be looking into refinancing options on Bruce.


I haven’t had the chance to run any F5X cars through KBB but would be very curious if you have. Comments are open! Let’s hear the horror stories!

It Could Have Been Better

I’ve always said that **every** car looks better in maroon. This Kia Forte is definitely included in the list. Recently had this as a rental, and as cheap 4 door car, it wasn’t horrible. The interior had a good layout that wasn’t too cheap. The tech was better than you would expect from a sub-$18,000 car. It had backup camera and bluetooth. The stereo wasn’t great, but you wouldn’t expect it to be. Also, for an inexpensive car, it was not horrible looking. And it was comfortable.

And, it wasn’t completely horrible to drive.

No, that’s not quite true.

Sure, it drove ok. For an automatic transmission on a baby 4 banger, it went pretty decent. I would say the handling also wasn’t too bad. But, and this is a huge but…

_waiting for the giggle to stop…_

The sound this thing made. Dear god, it was awful. At least it was when you gave the car too much right foot. I can’t even describe to you the sound this car made when getting over 3K RPM, but trust me when I say it was really bad. Really.

To be fair, my MINI is a cheap car. Come on, it’s an R56. Premium skipped this version, but that’s for another post. But, when I drop into third and get on it (even before I upgraded to a K&N air filter), the sound is actually pretty amazing. With the K&N, it’s even more amazing.

If the cheap car makers were to take a minute or 3 to add some decent sound to their engines, the experience would be so much better. And this car could have been better.