Today's the day! After a long search of almost a year I finally found the perfect Mini. That said, I should also mention that in the beginning of my search, I was dreaming and fantasizing more than I was actually searching. At that time, I didn't have enough money to actually buy a Mini. At least, not in the state that I wanted it to be. The Mini had to be in good condition so I could drive it immediately without any problems. After half a year, I had saved up enough money, and the real quest could begin. I began my search on the known used car sites. After an intensive search I came across a number of Classic Mini specialists in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The first Classic Mini specialist that I visited was here in Belgium. This was at Go Mini near Brussels. Here, saw a beautiful Mini 1.3 "Union Jack". A red Mini Cooper with white stripes on the bonnet and the British flag on the roof. But after a test drive I noticed there was a problem with the gearbox. He crunched pretty hard during downshifts from third to second gear. A common ailment in the Classic Mini, not insurmountable, but I know too little about cars to fix this myself, and I didn't have enough money to have it fixed by a garage. After this visit, my feet were put back on the ground. My requirements for the Mini and my budget did not really match. Since I did not intend to reduce my demands, the only solution was to increase my budget and, in other words, wait a little longer.
Last month I went to the second Classic Mini specialist. This one was located in the Netherlands. It was a drive of about an hour and fifteen minutes to The Little Car Company . The people here were very kind and gave me a very good explanation. Each Mini fanatic who hasn't been there yet should surely check it out. Their showroom is really full of beautiful Mini's! My girlfriend was came with me that day, and if I had left the choice to her, I didn't have not one, but five Minis. In other words: There were a lot of beautiful cars, but there were two who jumped me in the eye, both in "Tahiti Blue Metallic".
One was a real "Cooper S". This means it had the mandatory Cooper stripes. A beautiful mini '96 if I remember correctly. It had done something of a 45.000km and he looked like he just came from the factory. Beautiful black leather interior with beige stitching. Everything looked very authentic, besides from the new radio that was installed. Since the "real" Mini Coopers are popular among enthusiasts, the price was a bit higher than the second blue Mini that they had. Unfortunately, this one was still out budget for me, even though my budget was now larger than half a year ago.
The second was a mini "Monza", and thus without the Cooper stripes. Actually, this is a rarer model, since only 125 were made. In addition, they were only put on the market in Germany. This Mini had found its way to our northern neighbors, and now it had caught my eye. This one had a black leather interior as well, but this time with black stitching. There was no radio, but the salesman told me the same radio as in the other Mini would be installed in the Monza before it was sold. The Monza had fewer kilometers on the clock (about 30,000) and was built in '98. This was a younger, rarer Mini with less mileage than the "real" Cooper S, and yet it was cheaper. The only paper he had for this car, however, was the "Fahrzeugbrief", the German equivalent of the Belgian registration paper. I knew I was going to the Netherlands to look at cars, so I had already inquired about importing cars. The only paper that you need at the customs is this paper, later in the registration, you also need a certificate of conformity (which this car also didn't have), but you could do a separate, one-time inspection to obtain this paper. I immediately asked for a test drive. The salesman told me that before I could have a test drive, the Mini had to be checked and put in order. So he kindly asked me to come back next week.
So the week afterwards I returned to the Netherlands for the test drive with the Monza. When we arrived we saw him waiting outside. My parents, girlfriend and sister of my girlfriend all came along to see the Mini. Again, we were warmly received and the salesman immediately took out the keys. When he started the Mini for me it immediately began to honk his horn. Nick responded very calmly ("Oops ... ") and pressed the remote control of the car. This immobilizer with matching "alarm" was apparently standard on the Mini's when they were made, at least on the newer Classic Minis. The honking immediately stopped and this time the car started. A beautiful and surprisingly powerful sound came from under the hood and out of the exhaust.
I crawled behind the wheel, my girlfriend beside me, and her sister, surprisingly comfortable with her length of about 1m70, in the backseat. And off we went, this was only my second drive in a Classic Mini, and my first in a Mini which was 100% in order. I can assure you, there aren't many things that put such a big smile on your face like driving one of your dream cars. I think I was a little rushed in the moment, because after driving it for a while (to me it seemed only like a minute or two), my girlfriend got a phone call from my parents: "Are you lost?". So, to my regret, we drove back.
When I came back from the test drive I had made my decision. I just had to have this Mini! There was only one small problem ... The budget. Again that damn budget ... This time it was close, but I would not make it. I asked the salesman for some more info on the delivery. He told me it would take at least another week before he could deliver the car. There were still some details to be finished. For example, the radio still had to be installed. I recalculated my budget and began to negotiate. I got the price down a little and asked him to wait with delivery until the end of the month. This meant I would have another new salary on my bank account and that I would have enough money to buy the car. He completely understood and agreed to wait. The purchase of my Mini was a fact!
And today's the day! The Mini has just been delivered and is safe inside a garage at my grandparents until all papers are in order. Starting today, I am a very proud owner of my very own Classic Mini Monza! I really, really want to start driving it, but as I have no license plates, insurance, etc. I'm not going to risk it. It would be very sad and stupid to lose the mini on a little drive around the block. Patience is key ... Hopefully I'll be able to drive it soon!