Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides


Mini Published: 17th Feb 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!


What The Experts Say...

MAD4MINI ( caters for the BMW breed and is not a fan of the original, like many of its customers, it told us. The Yorkshire-based specialist covers all aspects of servicing and tuning and says owners are just as mad for them today as they were back in the 1960s and 70s although says they now appeal for different reasons. It advises to be careful with cheap sub £2000 cars as faults with the transmission and power steering will cost that much again to fix and warns there are a lot of poorly kept cars about. For those after a daily driver it recommends the R55 (diesel).

Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

BMC or BMW – who makes the Mini with the most? words by Alan Anderson images by various sources

The Mini has been part of all our lives and probably will remain so because it’s so much more than a car. This Clash of the Classics twin test is special insofar it doesn’t compare the pair side-byside because, let’s face it, with a difference of 42 years, how can you decide upon an overall winner? Rather it highlights their similarities and what suits your needs and taste best. Our findings might surprise you…


We can’t imagine anybody comparing the pair to make a final decision as they are chalk and cheese, designed 40 years apart for different markets and pockets. The Mini was essentially an economy car after the 1956 Suez crisis while the BMW recreation is essentially a lifestyle choice.

They are poles apart yet both shout Mini but to a opposite buying base. There’s no shortage of choice; the original is so well known and available as a saloon, estate, van, Cooper, Cooper S, Clubman, convertible and even a turbo! The reintroduction in 1990 of the Cooper name reignited interest in the car and must have not gone unnoticed by BMW who launched its brand a decade later as the One (R50) or the much more popular Cooper (R252) with the option of Pepper and Chilli option packs along with a host of accessories. The Toyota-engined diesel came on stream (R55) in 2003 and over the years the family was expanded by the Clubman (Traveller), convertible and of late a two-seater coupé and even a SUV. Clearly there’s a car, BMC or BMW to suit everybody.

Back to the original… There were seven generations and, generally, the later the car the better because over the years the Mini gained 12inch wheels, disc brakes, larger engines and taller gearing.

Without question. the most iconic come with the Cooper name and these and especially the Cooper S can command eye-watering amounts of money and the more original then the better, a far cry from when they were contemporary when tuning and customising was a way of Mini life.

Yet Minis remain affordable, especially mainstream models where £3000 can net a fair example. As a rule, Clubmans are worth less although there’s increasing interest in 1275GTs – get one while you can we advise – while the vans and particularly the pick-ups can match Cooper S’s for desirability and prices, as can Mokes.

The best value lies in the post 1990 Coopers which remain temptingly inexpensive and are almost good as the original, plus have the blessing of the late John Cooper himself. With the exception of the 210bhp JCW (John Cooper Works) BMW MINIs are classical rather than classics and you can pick an early 2003 car up for £1500-£3000 depending on if you go to a dealer or bid at auction. Coopers hold the most sway understandably and the S can sell for premium prices, especially if they are loaded with approved extras or is JCW tuned. So in this respect they have much in common although owners may not, so we are told.


Despite there being a generation gap between them, both share the same fun factor and thrills behind the wheel although they do it in different ways.

Who hasn’t driven the Issigonis original? But the Mini remains a car you like or loathe. Handling is wonderfully kart-like and agile and the (unassisted) steering is as sharp as razors, plus all feel fast, but it’s that lack of refinement and creature comforts that has as many detractors as it does admirers.

In contrast, while the BMW MINI still feels surprisingly like the BMC blueprint where it counts, it also provides levels of civility today’s owners demand and so perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that MINI owners aren’t automatically Mini fans – and vice versa. You’d think that the typical owner would have a Mini as a classic toy and a MINI for daily driving yet this simply isn’t the case say some specialists.

Only the Cooper and Cooper S provide what can be now termed as good performance whereas even the base MINI One will outpace them and the current Cooper S feels fantastically fast – and people still tune them for more, but the 115bhp Cooper more than dishes up enough fun.

Handling is great on all models but in terms of raw fun nothing can beat the original brick on its 10in wheels. The BMW car is faster through corners of course but that’s because it grips on massive 16inch items! Also driving the BMW model shows you just how far brake performance has come over the preceding 40 odd years…

One undisputed area where the modern MINI trounces the old one is comfort and thanks to a fine cabin and five or even six-speed transmissions, you can undertake the longest of journeys without feeling fatigued. And of course practicality is enhanced with its hatchback facility, although by careful packing it’s amazing how much you can cram into the old model, which remains the best choice for town work thanks to its size and nippy nature.

Minis were primarily about economy and all score well here. The Mini diesel (also available in Cooper guise) initially used a Toyota Yaris engine before being replaced by a Peugeot one and a few specialists recommended these to us as the best daily drivers because they give enough performance to make squeezing over 60mpg fun.


The only thing they have in common is that they are easy and low cost to keep. BMC Minis have always been well served in the trade and this continues to be so as a classic and all that you can wish for, including brand new British Heritage bodyshells, are available meaning your only limitations are budgets and determination!

There’s an extremely healthy aftermarket serving the BMW version with parts, repairs, servicing, tuning and customising equipment and their own racing series. Owners are as mad keen on them as perhaps their parents were with the original BMC car, of which their pitfalls and problems are well known!

That’s not to say the new MINI has lived up to its BMW parentage. The original R50 design has been littered with problems and recalls and some faults, relating to the gearbox and power steering, can even render early cars uneconomic to repair.

Other faults include rattly engines, jammed seats, cracked windscreens, faulty stop-start systems (designed to cut emissions and aid economy by automatically cutting the engine off when at standstill) and water ingress into the electrics and electronics. All this means you need to check a buy out carefully.

Happily, there are MINI specialists who not only fix them but sell ’em and the car was one of the instigators of free all inclusive servicing packages, so most will have been pretty well looked after. The R56 Mk2 models had most of the early faults cleared by launch time and they are the better buys in terms of reliability. While the BMW isn’t as DIY friendly as the BMC namesake, plenty of owners tune and improve them at home and there’s an excellent club support to not only help but also provide a great social scene. It is a Mini after all.

And The Winner Is...

A ‘Mini’. What one depends what you want from one but it’s clear that this icon remains very much a personal choice because you can’t objectively compare the two – and nor is it fair to. The original is a classic in every sense and more than just a car. The reincarnation by BMW was executed brilliantly for today’s motorist and the wonderful Mini spirit has woven its way into the hearts of a new generation of owners just like the BMC brick did. And in the end, that’s what counts most of all.

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Britians top classic cars bookazine