It’s not all about how many miles your car has, sometimes it’s about a long term, committed relationship with your car. Today marks 13 years that I’ve owned my 2002 Cooper S (although she was built 6 weeks earlier, the last week of April, 2002). I picked up my brand new MINI on a sunny Monday morning in Westchester NY, some 2,200 miles from my home then in San Antonio. Why the long distance purchase? When the MINI was launched in 2002 there weren’t any MINI dealers anywhere in the entire state of Texas, and there wouldn’t be any until a year or two later. At the time of the MINI’s launch, there were just 2 dealerships in the country selling the cars at MSRP. Both were owned by BMW corporate, and one was in Manhattan and the other in Westchester NY. Much like Henry Ford saying “you can have any color Model T you want as long as it is black”, something similar was going on with the Cooper S at launch. You couldn’t pick and choose the options or color -- if you wanted one of the first MINI Cooper S models, you had to take one of the three special build models that were available. I found a Dark Silver one with a white roof that loaded with virtually everything offered at that time, and I made long-distance arrangements to buy it. My wife and I flew to NYC, and took the train to Westchester. The day I picked up my car was the first time I’d seen a Cooper S in person, and I loved it. Yes, I bought it sight unseen, never having driven one. I followed the break-in recommendations to the letter for the first 1,200 miles on the way home. But at 1,201 miles, I put my foot into it and heard the supercharger whine for the first time. Intoxicating then, and still a thrill now. Once back home in Texas, it was a bit of a nail-biter living with a brand new car but with the nearest MINI dealer being 8 hours away in New Orleans. I was very relieved when local MINI dealer finally opened in San Antonio 18 months later. Since the MINI was a brand new design from a brand new company, there were plenty of issues with the reliability and quality of the car that the dealer had to address. Eventually, they all got everything taken care of and the car has been great over the years. My 13 year old MINI has been to 23 states, to places as iconic as Washington DC and the Grand Canyon. I’ve taught two daughters how to drive a manual transmission with that car (something every driver should know how to do – even if you own an automatic). How long will I keep this old MINI? I’m not sure. The car has 104K miles now, but I’m not putting that many miles on it anymore --- I commute by train or I work from home, so the annual mileage each year is under 5K. At this rate, I could keep it another 10 years and barely crack 150K miles. It’s cheap to keep, and easy to maintain. And to be honest, I still really like the car. A lot. I like the way it looks, I like the way it drives, and I find it’s still a little bit of a thrill getting into it and taking off. And I love putting my foot down and hearing the supercharger whine. When I climb in, it feels comfortable and familiar, yet still very satisfying. I don’t feel any urge to get a new car. Some random thoughts on 13 years of ownership: The only time I ever had a flat tire (twice) was when I had runflat tires. When the original runflats wore out I was happy to replace them with conventional tires. Knock on wood, never had a flat in the 10 years since then. MiniDave helped me tremendously two and half years ago with doing some maintenance/changes on the old girl. We did changed out the clutch and awful dual-mass flywheel for the a conventional one (the biggest improvement you can make on a Cooper S says me), put a new P/S pump in, added a 15% supercharger pulley (and changed out supercharger oil), put new bushings in the suspension, and did other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting now. The idea was to do the things needed to keep my MINI going well into the future. The suspension is mighty stiff on the ’02 Cooper S models (they softened them up on later model years), but I like it that way. And even now it seems just as tight. The ’02 Cooper S models only came with a 6 speed. Because left feet need to be part of driving too. I like that the first year car has some unique features, some you may not like, but I do. No brake pad sensors -- if you want to know about your brake pads, take the wheel off and have a good look! There’s no speed readout in the tach – if you want to see how fast you are going, look at the speedometer. What a concept! No big ugly drink holder -- your drinks either fit under the toggle switches or you don’t bring them. When did we all become so damn thirsty anyway? So, my car is now a teenager. Join me in wishing her a Happy Birthday. Here she is with my dog, Cooper.