Harold is your average MINI Owner, with one exception – he has over 488,000 miles on his MINI. We caught up with him to see how he's done it and why he's continued to stick with his MINI for so long.
Mileage one minute ago was 486,737.
I have always loved to drive. After I retired and the family was all gone, I sold the big house and moved into a small home right on Lake Michigan with a gorgeous view of Milwaukee's harbor and skyline. I sold my sailboat several years ago so I've been free to drive. If it was a nice day and no one expected me or cared where I was, I would drive – often 400 or 500 miles – or as far as I could go in daylight, then follow a bus or semi home. (They can deal more successfully with stray deer, etc.)
I had taken my BMW 5 series to International Autos in Milwaukee at 213,000 miles and said, "Give me the really big inspection; - this car is so good I'm going to keep it forever." While I was waiting, their first shipment of MINIs arrived. I was fascinated! But my Dad always taught me, "Never buy a new product the first year it's manufactured." So, I went home and read everything I could find in magazines and on the Internet about ‘The New MINI Cooper.'
Every review seemed more positive than the last - so, about 2 months later, I surrendered and placed my order. It took 2 1/2 months to arrive - and the wait was terrible. "What have I done?" "I don't need a different car" "My 12 year old BMW still looks great and runs like a new one!" "What if I sell this beauty - and the MINI turns out to be a dud?"
Well, the MINI arrived - and I sold the BMW 3 days later - to my Pastor's wife. (It was that good.)
The MINI instantly won me over and I never looked back. We had driven fine German cars for 45 years starting in 1956 with a series of 7 air-cooled Volkswagens (incl. 2 Westfalia Campers). The VWs, Mercedes, and BMWs were all good - or we wouldn't have kept buying them. But, the MINI has been better – and more fun to drive – than any of the others.
I grew up during the depression. My friends too. I didn't know anyone who bragged, "I'm hard on my toys!" If we broke stuff we didn't get another. I think you'll still find that attitude in many of my generation. One other thing. Many years ago, while still in high school, one of the girls in our church young people's group said, "I'm never afraid when you're driving." I liked that - and I've been a better driver ever since. I never wanted anyone to be afraid – in my car – or in the cars around me.
Yes, I'm a kinda-member of The Milwaukee MINIs – can't be as active as some who contribute so much but I do participate when I can. I was an early member of the Volkswagen Club of America and joined when we had our first 1956 VW. That was so long ago that the featured speaker at our National Convention in the Poconos was Walter Cronkite. He was a delightful guest – a Jaguar racer who said, "It's hard for me to believe that people from all over the nation would join a Volkswagen Club. That sounds about as dumb as joining a Dr. West's Toothbrush Club!"