A decade ago, MINI launched in the United States, at a time when gas was cheap and small cars were decidedly not in vogue. The original Cooper has given birth to the Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster, in a brilliant display of making many lengths of sausage from one pile of meat.
MINI hasn’t always been a bright and shining success story. Reliability problems have plagued the brand, even though they make some of the most fun vehicles at any price. Issues with the CVT gearbox, for example, have been manifold and the transmission is staggeringly expensive to replace.
On the other hand, cars like the Mini Cooper S offer a sublime mixture of performance and style. Of course, you’ll pay for that. Today’s MINI no longer resembles the original iconic design and MINI’s future seems to be oriented more towards “mobility” than the automobile. Nevertheless, we salute MINI here at TTAC, and the above photo, taken in a Clubman S JCW at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will always be one of my most memorable drives, from the parade lap of the circuit to the meandering journey I took in it through the Eastern Seaboard, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana over 4 days. If only they weren’t so damn expensive.