Monday, March 03, 2008

The John Cooper Works

Although I have previously posted my planned MINI build, the new John Cooper Works MINI is promising. It would be about three thousand more than what I want out of a MINI, but the concept of the car as a pure, purposeful, performance MINI is certainly tempting. Why would I want to lose things such as the sunroof, sport suspension, LSD, and Laser Blue for a performance package?

Let me review what will be available through the JCW car. First are the engine upgrades: new turbo, improved air intake and exhaust, and optimized computer tuning. This gets the car up from 172hp to close to 207hp. Next are the clutch, transmission, and short-throw shifter. There is also the four-piston front brakes for even faster stopping times. An electronic differential lock will simulate an limited slip differential. The JCW will also have limited edition 17" wheels. The other details are still unclear, but the Hi-Fi sound, Anthracite headliner, and piano black/fluid silver dash may be included as well. The cars top speed also increases from 140 to 148 miles per hour.

It has always been tempting to spec a stripped down Cooper S with just LSD and Sport Suspension, even bypassing a metallic paint color to create a no-nonsense street and track attacker. A no-option JCW would represent that idea to the extreme.

And that last word may be just why I pass on a JCW. It is almost too extreme. The R56 is already very fast for such a small car. When I test drove one a year ago, I quickly realized my limits are reached far before the car's. I'm not saying I have ruled out the JCW, but my concept of my MINI will have to change before that decision is reached.

Besides, who goes 148mph in a MINI? Seriously...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Are Your Wheels Dirty?

Often when I'm driving down the road, I see cars with absolutely filthy front wheels. Sometimes, the car will even be relatively clean, but the wheels are blackened with brake dust. I know that not everyone sees their car as an extension of who they are, but you can learn a lot about a person from the condition of their car.

If you peek in my Saturn, you will see a few fast food bags and cups, some books in the back seat, as well as a Cars booster seat. I live a life on the go and don't have much time to clean up the mess. I try, though. :)

The Saturn isn't really my car. When the Neon died, I inherited it since we got the minivan for my wife, and I've never really gotten attached to the Saturn. It is living on borrowed time until I can sell it and finally get my MINI. Don't expect to see trash in the MINI.