Gene and Barbara Moore just dropped off the Beehive, bringing the team back together and bringing closure to our MTTS trip.
Going through lots of small, southern towns with really cool, old courthouses. This one is in Sparta, Georgia.
After nearly seven years and 158,000 miles of motoring, MINIBee, the 2006 Cooper Convertible that changed my life forever, has been retired to light use. She has been and continues to be a great MINI and after driving her hard on mountain roads, autocross days and for normal daily drives, she has earned a rest. Is she running fine? Yes. Does she still give me what I need when I put the throttle down? Yes, and that’s the point. I intend to keep her forever, and I want to preserve her now so I can enjoy her until we are both old. In 9-10 years when we retire to the mountains, you will see Killboy photos of me and MINIBee on the Dragon, just like the old days.
A few weeks ago I took her to the Dragon for the last time until we retire. It was a quick trip, and the goal was to round her up from her Dragon run total of 143 to a nice, even 150. We had a great time, with cool, dry weather and empty roads. In a matter of a few hours the seven runs were done and six were clean runs from start to finish with no other cars or bikes. Woohoo! To keep the total at 150 we cut across the Foothills Parkway after run #150, then circled back through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, returning to Robbinsville, NC for the night. The next day we did a solo run on the Cherohala Skyway, again with no other cars. Spectacular!
And now, MINIBee is in a private room at a nice retirement community (OK, it’s a storage place). I plan to decorate the place a little for her and stop by to take her out and let her spin her wheels once or twice a month. It sort of made me sad to see her there, all alone in the dark, but I know I’m doing the right thing.
About six weeks ago, a funny thing happened as I was planning to order and adopt another MINI, a JCW Roadster. I had the MINI configured and planned to place the order in October so I could take delivery before the end of the year to take advantage of some MINI employee discounts. I got busy helping customers adopt their MINIs, and when I went to place the order, JCW production for October had already begun and I had lost my allocation until November. A November order wasn’t going to get the MINI here by the end of the year, so I was stuck. And then, fate struck.
A Midnight Black Metallic JCW Roadster, configured and ordered by my general manager to sell on the lot at MINI of Wesley Chapel, came in. It was very close to what I wanted, missing only the rear fog light option, chromeline interior and comfort access. The interior, mirror caps and stripes were Chili Red, which wasn’t going to work for me (no offense to my Chili Red-loving friends), but that MINI was calling my name, saying “Bee, all that you can Bee!” I accepted the challenge and a few days later, motored home in what would soon be the next bee in the hive – MightyBee!
The first order of business was to give MightyBee the Visine treatment, to get the red out. The Chili Red stripes were removed after just a few days and I began the search for solutions to convert the interior trim to Liquid Yellow (MINIBee’s body color). I considered having the parts wrapped but two different places said the door ovals would be near impossible to do without removing them. So I decided to get the parts painted, along with mirror caps and a few additional exterior parts. My MINI friend BillTheCat recommended a local paint shop in Tampa, Wally’s Paint and Body, and they did a fantastic job matching the paint. Wally and his team took apart my door ovals, painted them and reattached them with screws and JB Weld with fantastic results. After installing all the yellow painted parts the new Bee was starting to buzz.
The next step was getting stripes. My friend Sara Neave at Sign Solutions in Tampa had matched MINIBee’s color in custom-printed vinyl when I needed my headlight rings wrapped, so I asked her to do the stripes. When I visited there last week they took some photos of MightyBee and made some measurements, then used a graphics program to produce a composite that showed how the stripes would look. The stripes were installed today and they look fantastic! The color is right on and although there are a few minor adjustments I’d like them to make to the cuts, the overall result is better than I’d hoped. So MightyBee is reaching an early stage of identity, with a unique look but one that still honors MINIBee’s heritage.
This is a fun time, just as it was before, with every little addition adding a tiny piece of character to the final MINI that MightyBee will become. Sometime after the holidays I will get them together for photos, which will be fun. I’m also planning to have a retirement party for MINIBee at the dealership, where stories will be told about the spunky, yellow MINI and how she changed one man’s life forever. Her younger brother, MightyBee, will be there too, hopefully listening and learning from the old girl. After all, he and I have a lot of motoring to do.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here and that seems odd, since now my life is filled with MINIs more than ever before. My life isn’t just filled with MINIs, it IS MINIs, since I became a Motoring Advisor at MINI of Wesley Chapel last March. Being an MA and doing it well requires about 55-60 hours a week at work so free time is tight. But I figure if I back off on Facebook a little and try to post here 3-4 times a week, I’ll be off to a good start. I’m working on the inside now, so I have access to a lot of cool stuff I can share. And my recent purchase of a John Cooper Works Roadster will provide plenty of opportunity for me to share my experiences as I build the next bee.
So if you haven’t been here in awhile because there weren’t any new posts, know that I’m working on it and intend to post here regularly starting now. There’s a lot happening in MINIBee’s world and your invited to motor along with me. I hope you enjoy the ride.
People who don’t own a MINI but are considering getting one always have questions about the interior space and the ability to haul stuff. We own three MINIs and after driving SUVs for years I can tell you we don’t miss the SUVs one bit. When we need to get some bags of mulch or other large items we just fold the seats down and throw a blanket in the back (to protect the plastics) and we’re in business. For the few times each year when we’ve needed to haul something that’s too large to fit in one of the MINIs, I rent one of those $19.99-an-hour trucks at Lowe’s and us it to make a quick trip. What we save in gas by driving MINIs every day more than offsets the few times each year when we have to rent a truck to haul something. And in the convertible I can haul all kinds of stuff. Check out this photo of MINIBee with an 8-foot box inside. No problem!
Two of our MINIs have trailer hitches too, and we have one of those inexpensive Harbor Freight trailers. So we’ve gone as far as North Carolina with all four of us in the cabrio and our luggage in the trailer. You also can get one of those trailer hitch boxes for the back if you don’t want to pull a trailer. They hold a lot of stuff! Here’s MINIBee with our trailer attached during a trip to The Florida Keys.
So don’t worry about the MINI being too small inside because it’s not, especially if you only haul large items a few times a year. You can save money on gas plus have a ton of fun driving your little street-legal go-kart. Once you go MINI you’ll never go MAXI again!