Building Another Bee

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.

MINIBee and I at Deals Gap just before Dragon run #150.

MINIBee and I at Deals Gap just before Dragon run #150.

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!

MINIBee the MINI is now resting in a private room.

MINIBee the MINI is now resting in a private room.

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.

photo

MightyBee on the day I brought him home.

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.

MightyBee originally had a Chili Red interior.

MightyBee originally had a Chili Red interior.

Mighty after the Visine treatment.

Mighty after the Visine treatment.

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.

MightyBee with his new stripes.

MightyBee with his new stripes.

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.

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4 Responses to “Building Another Bee”

  1. Incredible! Congratulations both bees are stunning and thank you for sharing the story!

    • Thanks so much, Christina! I often think about how different my life would be if I had not adopted MINIBee and met so many incredible MINI owners, like you, along the way. I am blessed!

  2. Liquid Yellow looking really good inside. Just don’t know how you can permanently-store MINIBee!

  3. Great Story! Love the new addition!

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