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Shifty Needs Your Help in Buying a Car

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
Welcome to:

Shiftright’s Choice--a stirring drama of money, lust and pathetic waffling:


I need some advice here on the best way to go to acquire a MINI:

Choice #1:

Friend has a 2003 Cooper S (supercharged model), mint, 15,000 miles, black on black, well-equipped. Price is $17,000

Pros: It’s the S model, which is a lot faster than the base model Cooper. Miles are really low, condition is perfect, history known since new (one owner), price is about $7,000 less than a comparably equipped new S model, which is now a turbo, not a SC car. About the max I really want to spend on a car. No increase in car payments.

Cons: MINI resale values are damn high. It’s a lot for a 2003 with no warranty left. Black on black wouldn’t be my first choice in this car.

Choice #2:

Another friend has a 2005 Cooper S on his lot, massively equipped with everything, including NAV, 32,500 miles, good colors (blue/white), very small balance of warranty, for $22,000.

Pros: It’s an S, has some warranty, very well equipped, good colors

Cons: I could buy a brand new 2007 base model for the same price; miles are 2X the 2003 car, still more than I’d like to spend but I could stretch for it. Increases car payments $100 a month.

Choice #3:

I can buy a new BASE Mini in the colors I really like and well but not lavishly equipped for $21,000.

Pros: Get the colors and equipment I really want. Full warranty.

Cons: Not much faster than my Scion xA, and $5,000 more than the 2003 black one. Increases car payments about $100 a month

Not a Choice: A brand new Cooper S with equipment, tax and license is too much money for me.

As the FLY says in the end of the movie: Help ME! Help ME!

NOTE-- any of the used cars could get an extended warranty for about $1,000 on drivetrain and some other items (not everything).

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  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,877
    Hey Shifty:

    Nice of you to come to us with your choice.

    For what little it may be worth, I vote for option 3.

    The reasons I think 3 may be the best choice are as follows (and I know you know all of these reason already): First, you get a full factory warranty.That means that for the next 4 years you don't have to worry about anything serious going wrong. If anything does go wrong, it'll be fixed without cost to you. That's a big deal in my book. Second, even though all of us love old cars, the blunt fact is that some new cars are better, and this is probably true for a new Mini. Most of the bugs have been resolved, and everything is a little bit better. And who really needs the power of an S? Oh, sure, it might be fun, but for those who know how to drive it a standard model with a manual shift will be almost as fun. And you can pick your own color. I look forward to your review of whatever you choose...

    Best, Ben
  • The original base MINI was never much fun to me but maybe the new new base MINI will be better.

    I would say either choice 1 or choice 3. Drive them both back to back and see which one you like better.

    My 2004 MINI Cooper S that I sold is now out of warranty by miles and has still not had any problems. I talked to the person that bought it a couple of weeks ago and they just had the first out of warranty service done at the dealer for 500 dollars. Probably paid a little too much for the service but you do get a loaner car and a hand wash/vacuum with every service.
  • okko1okko1 Posts: 327
    not that i know anything but which one looks the best to you. i had some of the same questions. the car i bought was an 06 in feb. of 07 and pay less personal property tax on it when i licensed it. i also looked at the minni's but thought the price was a little high.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I agree with benjaminh, for the reasons he stated, plus one more. I think the ride of the "S" may be a little stiff, with little practical difference in handling performance for road use. It goes without saying that for competition and track use the "S" suspension tuning would be the one to get, but for daily driving, the regular Mini is better, in my opinion. I base my comments on having driven an '06, and I felt that not only was there no need for a suspension upgrade, but any additional stiffness would have produced a negative tradeoff, for me.

    Also, remember, Shifty, when a while back we discussed the fact that you don't need tremendous power to have fun? I believe that was the gist of your comments concerning the fun that could be had with the relatively low powered (especially by today's standards) MGA and B. I agreed with you, which is why I don't think you need the forced induction to enjoy the Mini. If it were free you'd take it, of course, but given the extra cost, it's not a big deal to do without it.

    As an additional comment, I'll add that when the resale value is as strong as the Mini's, it pays to buy new. Buying used is great when depreciation is average or greater than average, but the Mini's resale values have been remarkable.

    Now I understand the ride quality of the new Mini has been improved, and there is less difference in ride harshness between the regular and "S" models than in the previous generation Mini. Notwithstanding this, and factoring in the value proposition, I'd still go for a nicely optioned regular Mini.

    Question for you, since I've never driven a Scion: is the Mini considerably more satisfying to drive than your Xa?
  • I like door #1, the price is excellent if it's as nice as any car I would expect you to purchase to be.

    Price is about wholesale actually, scary as that may be... suckers are doing in the strong 16s still with those miles.

    Door #2, with the miles, isn't nearly as good of a deal, about average retail.. $18k wholesale car. Nav adds little to resale.

    Door #3 is a no-go, you said from the outset that it isn't what you want.

    And another thing to consider is that I am sure you can retrofit factory nav to the Mini if that's what you really want.... I have yet to see a BMW where this can't be done with relative ease.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    Hey these are GREAT suggestions.

    It's interesting that nobody much went for #2, the "newer" used's almost like you're saying "well, used is used, so go for the low miles and lower price as a heavy decider".

    Okay, how 'bout this then? A compromise.

    Buy the black one and paint the roof light gray or silver in the future to put some lightness on the car?

    I have NOT driven a 2007 base model yet. I think I need to do that. As someone did point out, the original base MINI is fairly anemic, with about 110HP. My xA has 108HP and it's fine but I'm workin' the gearshift a lot. I wouldn't mind some torque here.

    Harsh ride isn't really an issue and great handling would be very helpful on the infamous Hwy 17 into Santa Cruz CA. Being so used to MGs and Porsches, which are hard riding, I'm okay with badda-bang, badda-boom.

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  • texasestexases Posts: 7,771
    Is this a replacement for the xA, or a 'fun' car?
  • Drive the 2003 S back to back with the base 2007 MINI to compare the difference.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    Yeah the MINI would be a replacement. I don't want to keep two cars right now. The MINI is for fun but also very good business image. If you are appraising cars worth $100K+, one's credibility is important, shallow as that sounds.

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  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I vote for Choice #4: wait until next summer and get an '08 base Mini Clubman. Given the breadvan duty the xA sees, I think the extra space in the Club would serve you well.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    I have a feeling the Clubman is going to cost a lot however, even though I like your idea.

    Remember these new MINIS are expensive cars to buy can easily blow $30K out the door, no problem. I don't want to do that.

    I try to take my own advice, which is "throw a big down on a car loan because that way you are never bottoms up if you ditch it---also smaller payments".

    Throwing a big down on a buy isn't dumb like throwing a big down on a lease.

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  • texasestexases Posts: 7,771
    OK, I get the image thing, I have to drive clients at times. I would then be a little more inclined for #3 over #1, for mileage and comfort, still would be fun. Course I've not been in either, so if the rides fine and you keep your foot out of it most of the time, the S would be great.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    Keep foot out? :(

    Seriously, I don't race around like a nut but there are many times during the day I need to "make a move" and it's very hard with the xA. I have to plan my shot, keep the car on the cam, etc, to pull it off.

    I figured with the extra power of the SC, I can pretty much just mash the gas when i need to and not worry.

    But I have no real "need" for a Cooper S--it is a pretty fast car however and a lot of fun. I've driven them.

    I guess my dilemma is this (and it could be wrong-thinking): "Why spend 1/3rd more money for 1/2 the horses?"

    Something about that bugs me...I's like buying the 6 cylinder Mustang convertible with an automatic.

    Maybe I want to be "smug". Did anyone see South Park last night? They sent up Prius owners forever. It was soooo funny.

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  • texasestexases Posts: 7,771
    Then the S it is...always good to let someone else take the depreciation hit, sounds like it's well maintained, why not? You sold me on the Mustang comment - gotta get the good one :shades:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    But I am gonna do the back to back thing you guys the used S and the new Base model on the same day.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    This is actually a 2005 I think, but you get the idea.


    Here's a cute little model with a white top. I think it's too much like a cop car!


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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    ...give us feedback on the used S vs. the new Base model, as well as how the new Base compares with the xA.

    Yes, the Clubman will probably be expensive to buy, but if it holds its value as well as the regular Minis, it may not be expensive to own.

    I had occasion to drive a '07 VW Rabbit several months ago, and I was very impressed, but the Rabbit probably wouldn't satisfy your image needs. I understand that the '08 will have 170 hp vs. 150 for the '07.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    I find the idea of buying a VW a bit scary, given what we often read around here.

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  • Whatever happened to your 164?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Yes, I know VW's reliability ranking is very near the bottom, and reliability is a very important consideration in a purchase decision.

    I won't cite the fact that a family member has a '02 Jetta with 52,000 miles that has an excellent reliability record as an argument for buying a VW because an example of one is statistically insignificant. However, I've read that VW management has recognized the quality problems, and is committed to improving reliability and dealer service. I believe that future reliability surveys will show VW moving up in the rankings. Secondly, "average" and even "below average" is much better than it was in the '90s. My conclusion is that if I liked a VW and a Toyota equally, I'd buy the Toyota every time. However, whereas I wouldn't have considered a VW until recently, because of reliability concerns, I would today if I really liked the car. My main concern regarding the Rabbit and Jetta is mediocre fuel economy compared with Toyota and Honda. Reliability has now become my second concern. It remains a concern, but is no longer a deal breaker for me. I'd now consider a new Rabbit because I like its design and driving dynamics. The latter surprised me. I'd value your impressions, if you should test drive one.

    I should add that I'd also consider a Mini, but the fact that, for practical purposes, its essentially a two seater, or a 2+2 at best, is a drawback for me. The Clubman may resolve that issue.
  • I never lacked for power with my S unless I was loping along in 6th gear and then full boost was only a down shift away.

    IIRC 6th to 3rd at about 55 mph puts you at full boost and nearly at peak horse power instantly with about a 1,000 rpms to go before red line. There aren't many cars you can't blow away on the highway with that trick.

    The MINI Cooper S, with an open diff, also won SCC's burn out contest a few years back. They left close to a 150 feet of rubber with the Cooper S.

    I could chirp tires in first, second and even third gear. To do the third gear chirp I had to let the engine rev up to within 50 rpms of the fuel cut off or it wouldn't work.

    I wouldn't recommend doing any of that too much though if you care about your clutch and/or tire life.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    Nah, to me, clutches and tires are merely sacrifices I make to the FUN GOD---lol! My Scion tires were DEAD at 27000 miles. Actually I'm good on clutches. Nigel does not do burn outs because Nigel thinks drag racing is silly. Nigel is being smug.

    So you have experience with driving the S and the base model? I'm told there is really no comparison whatsoever in driving experience. It's like two different cars they say. Or is that an exaggeration? I did drive a base MINI with CVT and paddle shifters, a 2007 and it felt like a dodge dart.

    RE: VW---it's not just the reliability stats that scared me, but listening to people's stories of WHAT happened to their cars and how OFTEN. You know, I'll give any car some slack but these repetitive stories of windows falling into doors, and slimey goo leaking out of door panels (???) and having to worship Our Lady of the Perpetual Engine Light every morning---that really gets my attention.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I understand, and, of couse, it's essential that a buyer feel comfortable with his purchase.

    In terms of the future, Toyota's and Honda's inroads in Europe should add urgency to VW's reliability drive, as it did with our domestic manufacturers. I'm sure it's important for VW to remain #1 in sales in Europe, and it's reasonable to assume that, like us, Europeans assign a high value to reliability.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    I'm willing to sacrifice a certain DEGREE of reliability for fun and pleasure. I've always done that. I'm sure the MINI will have its glitches. But I do draw the line and some makes just don't sit right with me. I even regard Mitsubishi higher than Mercedes for that reason (not build quality, but day to day reliability I mean).

    I'm sure that one day I'll be on the side of the road in the MINI in a rainstorm watching Scion xAs just breezing past with their annoying level of perfection, but that's can't play it safe all your live safe, you'll die safe, and so what?

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  • I have only driven a Base MINI with the god awful 5 speed they used to put in it. I am sure the 6 speed getrag from the S makes the car much better.

    Drive the New New base cooper back to back with the New Cooper S and your decision will be made.

    Ditch the runflats with either one of them though. They really ruin the ride and the 17 inch run flat wheel and tire combo that come with he sport package weigh 52 LBS EACH. That is insane for a 2,600 lbs or so car to have over 200 lbs of its weight tied up in wheels and tires.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,771
    One reason no one 'seconded' the run flats in the '7 wonders' discussion. Are the wheels also a problem, or can you just replace the tires?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    Yeah the run flats will go as soon as they are worn out, or before. I wonder if you need to change out the rims or anything?

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  • Nope don't need to do anything with the rims. The sensors for the older MINIs, not sure about the NEW NEW MINIs, are just the ABS wheel speed sensors. Even if they used the newer in wheel radio transmitters for the TPMS you would not need to change wheels. The system will still work with non-run flat tires.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,602
    It's interesting how many wrinkles there can be in a new/used car purchase. Do you guys think that a lot of regretted decisions (that is, quick trade-ins on new cars that were just bought) are caused by lack of research or is it more about the general fickleness of human nature, in spite of doing research?

    I read somewhere that 3 out of 10 new car buyers don't even drive the cars!!!

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I read somewhere that 3 out of 10 new car buyers don't even drive the cars!!!

    Now that's one thing I could never do, because I need to make sure that the car is going to fit me! And you can't always go by published dimensions. I've found some cars to have less published legroom, but actually end up being roomier, than some cars with greater published legroom!

    I remember years ago, the mother of one of my coworkers had a 1994 Dodge Intrepid. It only had about 35,000 miles on it, and there was nothing wrong with it. But she was going away that weekend to some golf tournament, and wanted a new car to show off to her friends, so at the spur of the moment, she bought a new 1999 Intrepid...and immediately hated it! I think the biggest problem was that the '94 was a base model, but had a lot of options, whereas the '99 was a bare bones base model. Plus, while the '99 had a stronger engine, it was DOHC versus pushrod, and you had to stomp it to get that power. A lot of old people just aren't used to that...they associate power with just barely tapping the pedal and it takes off. The concept of flooring the thing is alien to them. :P
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