Category Archives : books


book review: The MINI Story

The MINI Story

If you weren’t able to visit the BMW Museum to see “The MINI Story” exhibit before it closed last month, you can still read the companion book.

The MINI Story was edited by Andreas Braun, Curator of the BMW Museum, and published in cooperation with BMW and MINI.  The book’s text is bilingual, each page’s left column written in German while the right column is in English.  It’s a big and heavy book—it certainly can be classified as a coffeetable book—measuring in at 12.9″ wide by 10.9″ tall by 1.0″ thick.  It contains 236 pages, many filled with full-page photographs taken by automobile photographer Erik Chmil.  The “Words of Welcome” is by Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, and the Forward is by Gabriele Fink, Director of the BMW Museum in Munich.

From the inside cover description:

The MINI is a Legend. Its success story began in 1956 when the British Motor Corporation commissioned engineer Alec Issigonis to develop a revolutionary small car offering the maximum interior space on a minimum footprint. Three years later the task was realized brilliantly, and in 1959 the first Mini rolled off the production line. At just 3.05 metres long and 1.41 metres wide the car seated four passengers and had a boot capacity of 195 litres. It was the birth of the first small car that was not just tiny but that also fulfilled all the functions of a ‘grown-up’ automobile.

But the Mini was more than just a miracle of space. It was a car unlike all others that defied convention and created a lot of driving fun into the bargain. It embodied the spirit of the Swinging Sixties, becoming a cult object almost overnight. As a star of the rallying world the Mini claimed many legendary victories.

A new chapter in the history of this small car was opened in 1994 when BMW AG acquired the brand. With the launch of the first new MINI in 2001 the foundation stone of future MINI generations was laid. Alongside all the adjustments for modern technology and comfort, the essential characteristics of the original Mini were preserved. A timeless classic in the history of the car, after more than 50 years the MINI still represents an innovative concept of space, youthful design, unconventionality and its own MINI lifestyle.

The content of the book is divided into six broad chapters:

  1. Identity and Lifestyle
  2. History
  3. Motorsport
  4. Design and Technology
  5. The New MINI
  6. Gallery

Despite the book’s large size—and due to the book’s duel languages—it doesn’t go into too much depth in any of its topics.  Again, consider that this is a picture book written as much to entertain as to inform.  It’s also, of course, a bit of a marketing tool, often reading like a press release.  There is fascinating information inside and the full-page drawings and photographs are excellent.  The book would be worth buying for the images alone, you’ll be tempted to cut them out to hang on the wall.

Chapter 1

Identity and Lifestyle is perhaps a strange subject to begin an automotive book, but this is Mini.  “MINI in Advertising” is the very first topic with the first image being one of the newest ads, the “Spot the Difference” ad for the new MINI 5 Door.  But that’s it for the MINI, the next few pages taken up by images of classic Mini ads.  The chapter continues with “MINI at the Movies”, “MINI in Art”, “The Swinging Sixties”, and “Fashion”.

The MINI Story Book (Pages 18-19)

Chapter 2

After covering MINI’s cultural impact, the book moves onto more traditional ground with a brief historical overview of the brand.  After a two-page timeline, the chapter starts with a look at “The Logo” and “Brand Identity”.  Again, a heavy marketing influence in the choice of topics.  No MINI book would be complete without a biography of Sir Alec Issigonis and this one presents his life and achievements in yet another timeline.  Further topics include “The First Mini”, A Miracle of Space”, “The Classic Models”, “Community”, and “Individuality” all broken into bite-size bits.

Chapter 3

MINI enthusiasts know the brand has had a long success story in rallies and on the track. Chapter 3 covers Mini’s success in the 1960s highlighting the three Monte Carlo wins, of course.  Intertwined are more modern racing topics including the MINI Challenge series and success at Dakar.  Finally, there are mini bios of racing drivers Rauno Aaltonen, Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen, Niki Lauda, and Stéphane Peterhansel.

 

The MINI Story Book (Pages 86-87)

Chapter 4

Perhaps the best chapter in the book is the one covering Design and Technology. Focusing on the design of the new MINI, the book gives a fascinating look into exterior and interior design of the MINI and goes over the iconic design features and the overall philosophy.  After “Design”, topics include “Growing up”, “Design Process”, and “Design Sketches”. At this point the glossy pages give way to an unnumbered section of matte pages with beautiful full-page design sketches from designers like Frank Stephenson, Tony Hunter, Marcus Syring, Henning Holstein, and others.

 

The MINI Story Book (Pages 106-107)

Back into the main text, the chapter continues with an overview on “Production” and a surprisingly brief run-through of “The Engine” of each MINI generation. More specifications here would have been appropriate and appreciated.  Again, the choice of content is aimed at the casual reader and is not an in-depth study of the cars.  Despite the chapter title, there was very little technology hightlighted here.

Chapter 5

While much of the content so far is about the new MINI, Chapter 5 is explicitly titled “The New MINI”. It begins with another timeline covering the BMW era from 1994 to the present.  Again, there are bite-sized sections on MINI concepts and models including: MINI ACV 30, Spiritual, the new MINI, MINI Convertible, MINI Concept Geneva (Clubman), MINI Clubman/Clubvan, MINI Coupé Concept, MINI Countryman, MINI Beachcomber Concept, MINI Rocketman Concept, MINI Roadster, MINI Pacemen, MINI XXL (stretch limousine), MINI Superleggera, and the new MINI Clubman Concept.

Chapter 6

The rest of the book from page 156 on contains only photographs.  Chapter 6 is exactly what its title implies: a “Gallery” of color and black & white photos.  The only text is the model name and year at the bottom of some pages.  Many of these pages are ones you want to cut out and put in a picture frame.  There is a good mix of artistic and journalistic photographs.

The MINI Story Book (Pages 164-165)The MINI Story Book (Pages 182-183)The MINI Story Book (Pages 204-205)

If you want a thorough chronological history or detailed information about Mini and MINI models, this isn’t the book for you.  But if you want an entertaining and visually-pleasing read, with official and authentic MINI inside information, you’ll want to add this book to your collection.  While you can read The MINI Story cover-to-cover, this is a book best read in short bursts.  Buy the book, put it on your livingroom table, and pick it up any time you need a dose of MINI reading.

Buy The MINI Story from AmazonAmazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.


MINI releases updated John Cooper Works press book

MINI John Cooper Works press book
MINI has released an updated version of its online press book called MINI John Cooper Works which covers all current aspects of the performance sub-brand.  The electronic press book is available in English and German and contains over 100 pages of text, tables, and photographs.  It covers all MINI JCW models including the forthcoming 2013 MINI JCW Paceman. The content is divided into six main sections:

  • Introduction
  • History
  • Models
  • Tuning
  • Motorsport
  • Specifications

You can also download the MINI John Cooper Works press book in English (PDF 132 MB) and German (PDF 132 MB).


MINI releases online John Cooper Works press book

MINI John Cooper Works press book
MINI has released an online press book called MINI John Cooper Works which covers all current aspects of the performance sub-brand.  The electronic press book is available in English and German and contains about 100 pages of text, tables, and photographs.  It covers all MINI JCW models including the forthcoming 2013 MINI JCW GP and MINI JCW Countryman. The content is divided into six main sections:

  • Introduction
  • History
  • Models
  • Tuning
  • Motorsport
  • Specifications
You can also download the MINI John Cooper Works press book in English (PDF 115 MB) and German (PDF 169 MB).

new MINI buyer’s guide published

New MINI: All Models 2001 to 2006 (The Essential Buyer's Guide)Published last month in the UK and scheduled for release this monthin the US, New MINI: All Models 2001 to 2006 (The Essential Buyer’s Guide) by Martyn Collins is a brief (64 pages in paperback) but illustrated guide to purchasing a first-generation MINI.  The book description states:

With so many different models and specifications to navigate, this book will help you get the Mini you want at the right price. Featuring over a hundred color images, plus details of problems to keep an eye out for, it is an essential aid for the discerning buyer, providing insight into market and value data and predicting future collectable models. Owning a Mini can be a very sociable experience, and this book gives details of back-up and support organizations for BMW’s British-built baby.

Table of Contents:

  1. Is it the right car for you?
  2. Cost considerations
  3. Living with a MINI
  4. Models compared
  5. Before you view
  6. Inspection equipment
  7. Fifteen minute evaluation
  8. Key points
  9. Serious evaluation
  10. Auctions
  11. Paperwork
  12. What’s it worth?
  13. Paint problems
  14. Lack of use problems
  15. The community
  16. Vital statistics

The cover price is $19.95 (£9.99 in the UK).  Pre-order from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Mini Mania.

New MINI: All Models 2001 to 2006 (The Essential Buyer’s Guide)
Martyn Collins
Veloce, 2012
64 p.
ISBN-10: 1845844084
ISBN-13: 978-1845844080


Bentley Service Manual for second-generation MINIs coming

MINI Cooper Service Manual: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works (JCW) Including Clubman, Convertible 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Nearly five years after the second-generation MINI arrived, Bentley Publishers is about to release its well-known MINI Cooper Service Manual for the R56 Hardtop, R55 Clubman, and R57 Convertible.  Set to be published on September 6, 2011, this large and thick paperback book has over 1,000 pages of information for do-it-yourself repairs.  The cover price is $139.95.

MINI Cooper Service Manual: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works (JCW) Including Clubman, Convertible 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Bentley Publishers, 2011
1,058 p.
ISBN-10: 0837616719
ISBN-13: 978-0837616711

You can pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

Bentley Publishers has previously published several service manuals for the first-generation MINI:

  • MINI Cooper 2002-2006 Cooper, Cooper S: Diagnosis Without Guesswork
  • MINI Cooper Service Manual: 2002, 2003, 2004 MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper Service Manual: MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S, Convertible 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
  • MINI Cooper Service Manual: MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S, Convertible 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 [with Diagnostic Trouble Code Manual]
MINI Cooper 2002-2006 Cooper, Cooper S: Diagnosis Without Guesswork MINI Cooper Service Manual: 2002, 2003, 2004 MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S MINI Cooper Service Manual: MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S, Convertible 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 MINI Cooper Service Manual: MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S, Convertible 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 [with Diagnostic Trouble Code Manual]

first ebook about MINI published

Is the MINI Cooper on Steroids?
The first ebook about MINI has been published.  The ebook titled Is the MINI Cooper on Steroids? by James Hawthorn is available only as an Amazon Kindle Edition.  It is published by Tudor eBooks, which has a large selection of titles, but it seems like an amateur publication.

From the Forward:

The Mini Cooper has packed on the pounds and gained a lot of muscle. Judging by the appearance of the latest Countryman model they must be feeding them steriods. This ebook contains a mass of information on the various models plus essential maintenance and performance improvement tips to keep your Mini in great shape.

The subjects covered meander from Mini history to MINI models to servicing to aftermarket parts.  A reading of the table of contents will demonstrate this:

  • Disclaimer
  • History
  • The Man Behind the Car
  • The Re-Birth
  • Re-Designed
  • Previous Models
  • 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible
  • The Countryman
  • Countryman Interior
  • Countryman Options
  • Alarm System Upgrade
  • Buying Online
  • Choosing a Model
  • Mini Cooper Clubman
  • Cooper Quirks
  • Demon Tweaks
  • Mini Maintenance
  • Servicing Tips
  • Recommended Oils
  • Engine Coolants
  • Performance Muffler
  • Supercharger
  • The 2011 Range
  • The MINI E
  • Xenon Headlights

At times the book reads like a badly-written press release.  It has no photos or illustrations.  There are several inaccuracies that any MINI enthusiast will spot.  Regarding Mini production which lasted until 2000, the author states:

Though no longer available in the U.S., the Mini remained in production in Europe through the ’70s and ’80s. By the mid-’80s, more than 5 million Minis had been produced worldwide.

In chapters on increasing performance with aftermarket parts, the author recommended specific brands of parts and the reader wonders whether the author was paid for endorsing them.  In fact, several links in the book direct the reader to specific products sold on Amazon.com.

Not recommended.

The ebook sells for $3.40 on Amazon.com.


Mission MINI copy available

Mission MINI
A copy of Mission MINI, the 54 page booklet by Val McDermid is available for purchase from AbeBooks.com.

The bookseller is in the UK and priced the book at $12.75 with a shipping charge of $12.07.  According to the seller, the Mission MINI competition form is still attached.  The price is high but it’s a good chance to pick up a rare early MINI collectible.


collectible of the day: The MINI: Celebrating 50 Years of a Modern Motoring Icon

The MINI: Celebrating 50 Years of a Modern Motoring IconThe MINI: Celebrating 50 Years of a Modern Motoring Icon

Brian Laban might be the most prolific writer on the MINI.  We have already featured two of his other books: The Little Book of MINI and The MINI: The Making of a Modern Icon.

Shown is his most recent book from 2009.  From the book jacket:

The most innovative, fun-filled and spectacularly successful British car ever built, the Mini has come to be regarded as far more than just an automobile. This book is a celebration of the Mini and all that it stands for. It tells the story of the car’s development, from Issigonis’ original right up to BMW’s MINI of today, explaining the car’s enduring appeal.

Using original and contemporary photographs and with tales from the famous, the good and the infamous who have known and loved Minis, this is the only book on the Mini that every motoring enthusiast and Mini lover could ever want.

To many thousands of people around the world the Mini is a way of life. Since it first rolled off the production line in August 1959, the car remained essentially the same for 40 years while revolutionising the motor industry, inspiring artists, starring in films and winning numerous racing trophies. When change did eventually come with BMW’s new MINI, the style of the original car mixed with the up-to-date technology proved a winning combination that has continued to thrill Mini fans everywhere. Broken into sections dealing with Size – why no other ‘small’ car comes close; Class – how it was eagerly adopted by Lords and call-girls; Sex – the Swinging Sixties would have merely swayed without it; Speed – how it ate Jags for tea; Money – it never made any; Love – why it won the hearts of millions; Faith – how BMW came to the rescue; and, Rebirth – how it came back to life.

The 208 page hardcover book has forward by Jeremy Clarkson and Frank Stephenson, the designer of the original new MINI.  Chapters are one-word names including Size, Style, Class, Sex, Taste, Speed, Speed 2, Money, Love, Faith, Rebirth, and Success.

This edition is an update to his original The Mini: Forty Years of Fun published in 1999.

Laban Brian, Forward by Jeremy Clarkson
The MINI: Celebrating 50 Years of a Modern Motoring Icon
Carlton Books, 2009
208 p.
ISBN-10: 1847323731, ISBN-13: 978-1847323736


collectible of the day: New MINI Performance Manual

We previously featured another MINI book by Tim Mundy: You & Your New MINI: Buying, Enjoying, Maintaining, Modifying.  His second MINI book is this New MINI Performance Manual published in 2008.

Another Haynes book, New MINI Performance Manual is a hardcover guide with 160 pages of information on the MINI engine, transmission, and running gear.  From the book description:

Since its launch in 2001, the New Mini has been a spectacular sales success in all its major markets, carving out its own identity in a marketplace full of increasingly bland small hatchbacks. It is a car that still turns heads, and has inspired a burgeoning aftermarket tuning and accessory industry, leading to the availability of a wide range of both official and aftermarket tuning packages. Written in down-to-earth language, this extensively illustrated manual is a practical enthusiast’s guide to realistic Mini tuning, providing advice on how to make the best of the options available.

Mundy, Tim
New MINI Performance Manual
Yeovil: Haynes Publishing, 2008
160 p.
ISBN-10: 1844251225, ISBN-13: 978-1844251223


collectible of the day: The MINI: The Making of a Modern Icon

The Mini: The Making of a Modern Icon
Today we feature another collectible book on the MINI.

The MINI: The Making of a Modern Icon was written by Brian Laban and includes forwards by Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear and Frank Stephenson, the designer of the original new MINI.

From Amazon UK:

This text tells the story of the Mini’s development over time and the story of how Mini owners have changed and the uses to which the car has been put. A socio-political examination of the Mini as a statement of class, sex, status and environmental intention, the book is also full of tales of racing, naughty goings-on and the Mini’s life in films and music. It includes original and contemporary photography, and features interviews with famous, and infamous people who have known and loved Minis, people such as Sterling Moss, Jamie Blandford, Jeremy Clarkson, Damon Hill, Twiggy, David Bailey, George Harrison and Julie Christie. A history of workers’ struggles, rust, wood, neglect decline and of the rebirth of the mini is also given.

Laban Brian, Forwards by Jeremy Clarkson and Frank Stephenson
The MINI: The Making of a Modern Icon
London: HarperCollins, 1999, updated edition 2003
192 p.
ISBN-10: 0007691998, 0007152752, ISBN-13: 978-0007152759