The 20,000th Mile

This passed weekend, my MINI tacked on its 20,000th mile! That's well over 10,000 miles with a pulley, intake and exhaust on an MCSa with no issues to date. Here's a choppy video I captured of this moment on a Chicago expressway.


Starved Rock 2007

With the leaves turning those wonderful colors, it was time for the annual Starved Rock Run. What a great drive right in my own back yard. And this time the club had it planned just right with a nice brunch at a resort lodge nearby. I had a great time. Here are a few pictures of the event.


Holy Crap! The Dragon is Awesome!

Absolutely the best road I have ever driven. Hands down. This winding road demands full concentration and the utmost respect. I highly recommend it if you can make it there. I will most likely be attending next years MINIs on the Dragon if at all possible. It's that good. Here are a couple of picts of the pre Dragon part of highway 129. We just couldn't take any pictures during the really curvy parts because we needed to hold on. I did add the pictures from Killboy.com, which I will be ordering full res shots soon. Enjoy!....... and btw, you should go to the dragon..... now! :-D


MINI Road Trip 2007 (part 2)

First off, I just realized that this is post #101. Posting has been extremely fun for me and hope to continue for some time to come. Thanks to everyone for visiting.

Road Trip 2007:
Continuing on from Part 1 of the road trip, we made stops at a few more locations. The first part we stoped at Springdield IL, St. Louis and then Memphis. This half we visited Nashville, the Smokey Mountains, and Cininnati. Check out the pictures below. And with the stop to the Smokies, a visit to the Dragon was inevitable. ;-)


MINI Road Trip 2007 (part 1)

Road trip USA... in a MINI. So far it's been just great. We have traveled through Springfield IL, St. Louis MO, Memphis TN and Nashville TN. With temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees, we have been staying cool. There's still a lot more traveling to be done. With no exact route planned, we have ultimate flexibly. Next stop, The Smokey Mountains. Check out the pictures to far below.


DSG: Not Anytime Soon

All you MCSa heads out there, don't hold your breath waiting for a DSG type tranny in a MCSa. It seems that there just isn't any resources to develop this under the BMW roof. And nothing currently in development could be adapted to the new MINI. Here's an exerpt from Motoringfile's interview with MINIUSA product manager Jeff Stracco:
MF: A lot of posters want to know if MINI will be getting a DSG or equivalent.

Stracco Speaks: The only real manufacturer of Dual Clutch Transmissions right now is VW. They don’t have a supplier, they manufacture the DSG themselves. Their front wheel drive box is actually manufactured by VW under license from Borg-Warner. They can afford to manufacture it themselves because they have huge volumes with VW, Seat, Skoda, etc. But, as you could imagine they are not prepared to manufacture those for anyone outside the VW family.

Everyone else has a dual clutch gearbox “In development” or something like that. Or if they have one, it’s not appropriate for a MINI. So it will be a while yet.

I am not an expert in market feasibility but I would think the "business case" would be very strong seeming that the market would include everyone from a novice motorer to a well experienced driver. The fact that the DSG transmission could produce faster shift times and ultimately faster cars would get me (and many other enthusiasts) very interested.

For more info check out:
GTI Test Drive [ dcmini ]
VW DSG [ Carpages.co.uk ]
DSG Auto [ dcmini]
Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) [ about.com ]


Portillo's 7.11.07

Hot Dogs and MINIs, what a combo! For what seemed like a casual gathering of a few enthusists set up in a NAM thread, we had a very large crowd show up. I also met up with Juan, of blu-iguana.us fame, who happened to be in the area with his indi blue cooper with well over 100,000 miles on it. Wow! And he gave me a poster with a ton of his pictures! Very cool... I'm getting that framed soon.

I had a blast talking with a couple new faces as well as some passers by. I hope we can make this a regular event.


CMMC 4th of July Parade 2007

What better way to show off your MINI than in a parade! There was a total of eight MINIs that showed up to churp their tires, rev their engines and decorate their MINIs for the crowds at the Skokie 4th of July parade courtesy of the CMMC. My grandfather happened to be in town so he rode along with me and he said he had a blast. It was great fun and great weather. Check out the club post for more picts including mine or just enjoy the slide show below. Happy forth of July to all! Hope yours was as memorable. :-)


One Hand on the Wheel....

How funny is this!! I went out to buy a mattress set for my mom and needed to get it home. I wasn't expecting to have to take it at the time but since her home was less than a couple of miles from the store, it didn't seem like it would be a problem to toss them up on the roof for a quick drive. With a little twine and a strong fore arm, we made it home with out a hitch. I never thought I would be one of "those people", but it needed to be done to close the deal. ;-)


My First Flat on the MINI... Awww

On my way home this evening, I heard a loud thumping like something got caught in my wheel. I pulled over and didn't notice anything so I drove off. A few minutes later, my tire pressure light went off and I knew I must have run over something bad.

When I arrived home, luckily only a couple of miles where this happened, I heard a loud whistling from my rear driver's side tire. And this is what I saw:

It's a house key that had a key strap attached to it. I think I'll keep it as a momento. Now I get to track down a place to repair it. fun stuff. :-) click the picture for more photos.

Since I didn't want the MINI to ruin the run-flat, I jacked it up and took the wheel off. I then tossed it in the trunk of my other car. As I walked away, as a matter of habit, I set the alarm. When I came back I thought I would level the car out since it was jacked up pretty high. As I let the car down a bit, my alarm went off and scared the crap out of me. Its good to know that the alarm is in good working order. I didn't think it was going to be that sensitive but I'm glad it is.


Going Green [Video]

Sometimes being MINI can mean a lot of things. One of the side effects of being an architect is that we tend to cater to people who are well off and/or are not interested in reducing the size of their project. This house with regards to its size is certainly not very MINI. As an offset, we look at other ways to reduce the impact of a project as a whole, not only financially but environmentally. With that, there is often a little up charge for going green initially, but in a short time it most often pays for itself and them some. But what is even more rare is having a developer invest into such a concept up front. Here is a project I worked on that exemplifies just that. It was also featured in a local NBC news segment, Going Green. Check out the video here. If you are using Safari, it seems a little buggy with the video. It works fine with Firefox.


HD Dice iPod Kit

My Previous Setup:
One of the first mods I added, back in April of '05, was the OEM AUX input ($42). This was a simple, easy and inexpensive way to get my tunes off the iPod and into the car. It was much less expensive than the often buggy Dension Ice-link Plus at the time. After a short while, a ground loop became an issue and would cut out the AUX every so often. To solve that added the Belkin Auto Kit ($40) that I received as a Xmas gift back in December of '05. Since then i've been jamming my tunes without any problems. It was a clean set up, just one cord going from the cigarette lighter to the center coin tray, and it kept my iPod charged and ready to go. It even paused when I turned the car off so that I could resume it later.About HD Dice:
After a while I grew tired of not being able to advance to the next track with the steering wheel controls. In addition, I kinda always wanted to see the song info without having to access the iPod itself. Then along came Dice, and their new and improved HD Dice Ipod Integration Kit. I became aware of this product from a NAM Q/A thread started and maintained by Tom of EAS. So what's different from the regular Dice iPod integration kit? Well nothing really in regards to the iPod. The module is definitely larger but the iPod interface is pretty much the same from what I can tell. The big difference is the 'HD' for High Definition Radio. Being in a large metropolitan area, Chicago has pretty much most of its over the air radio simulcasted in high definition, but having a regular radio would never be able to receive the HD signal. With the HD Dice, you can not only get all your ipod features, including displaying current track info on the stock head unit display, but also listen to HD Radio. Some stations also have hidden channels, such as HD2 that have different programming and some surprisingly have uncensored content. The device itself emulates a CD changer so it connects to the CD changer connections in the boot.The Install:
The DH Dice iPod Integration kit is very simple to install. The hardest thing I encountered was fishing the cables through where I wanted to run them. The HD Dice comes with two items, the control unit itself and an HD radio antenna. The instructions suggest that the HD Radio antenna be installed on the side of the front windshield but I thought that would be horrible to look at. After-all, I have my iPass mounted on my rear windshield because I would hate to look at its white creamy color every time I look forward. So I installed the HD Radio antenna in the fixed rear sunroof pane and fished the wire down the rear 'C' pillar and back the the boot. From there, I connected the module to the antenna in the side cubby hole, since this is where the CD Changer connections are. Now the challenge was to get the iPod connected so that I could have it at the coin tray by the e-brake. To do this, I needed to buy an extending 8 pin MINI din cable in addition to the iPod connection that for some reason is an option to the kit. So I fished these cables under the carpet lining, under the rear seat cushions and ultimately to the e-brake. It's not so hard once you get going, but with all this said and done, it took me about a couple of hours with a bit of trial and error with where to run the wires exactly.HD Dice Reviewed:
Overall, the sound from the iPod and HD Radio is superb. Definitely better than the AUX input, cleaner and sharper. With the AUX input, i noticed sometimes that the highs and lows would sometimes sound a bit muffled. Certainly not very noticeable but now it is a bit more evident when comparing the two side by side. The interface of the HD Radio is a bit slow for my liking but it gets the job done. I went with the HD Dice because they currently have a rebate which basically covers the added cost from the regular Dice iPod setup. But what really makes this worth it is seeing the iD3 tags on the head-unit, and using the MFSW controls to advance to the next track. If I wanted to select a specific song, I still can navigate from the iPod which would be the fastest way. Overall, a very good upgrade to get iPod control and iD3 text on your head unit.

EAS Support:
I just want to say that Tom over at EAS was more that helpful. In fact, I did shop around before buying from him, but in the end he was the the one who offered a whole lot more than just a sale. He is easily contacted and usually responds to any questions on the NAM Q/A thread within a few hours. Big thumps up to him.


The Great Parallel Park-Off

CNET, in typical tounge and cheek fashion, have a great little episode that features a new R56 MINI Cooper S in a parallel parking challenge. Check it out.


MINI Motorby In Action, Happy B-Day

Today marks the day that I took delivery of my new 2005 MCSa, just two short years ago. It just so happened that I also received my MINI Motorby keychain. So I went for a short drive to the MINI billboard, which was located surprisingly close and in a bunny infested manufacturing district. As soon as I turned the corner, there was my name, with two different phases; "Keeping it Loose, Daniel" and "Turns Are Made to be Carved, Daniel." How cool is that. Not sure if there are other phrases but those were the only two that were cycling for about ten minutes. I'll drive by later to see if there are any phrases, perhaps some more that reference those questions I answered when I signed up. Either way, very cool! and Happy Birthday to my MINI. Two years young and still truckin'!


Spotted My First R56

So on this Easter Sunday, I spotted my first R56 on the road. A liquid yellow MCS driven by an Asian woman. I gave her a wave but did not get the favor returned. I spotted the chrome side marker from a good distance so I knew it was the 2nd generation model.


Spring Fwd Drive '07

Bright and early! We headed out for the annual spring drive for CMMC this past Sunday. We headed up from Kanuz MINI to the Jelly Belly warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin to get some snacks, then up to downtown Kenosha for lunch. As usual, the drive included some hair pin turns (some with ice on the corners!) and a cool jump off a railroad crossing, yikes!.... Check out some more picts here which include some shots from Jon, a college buddy of mine that has been bit by the MINI bug. It was his first outing with the club and it seems it won't be the last. For even more picts check out the CMMC Post.


Motoringfile Photo Contest

The results are in! Motoringfile.com hosted a photo contest in February to promote MINI owners to get out and snap some pictures. So I gave it a go, captured this one and sent it over to the Motoringfile flickr pool. Although its not first place (wow that is a great picture btw), I did get an honorable mention over at Motoringfile. Thanks blalor! There are some great pictures there.

So if you have a camera, send in those pictures. Flickr is a free service so there's really no reason not to.


R56 MCSa Faster Than Manual?

I was over at Motoringfun.com where Pedro linked up a roadfly.com video review that states the MCSa actually ran the 1/4 mile quicker than the manual. Very interesting. I imagine they forgot to press the sport button or something because it does seem hard to believe. The best time for a manual was 14.9s while the MCSa ran it in 14.77s.


I Saved Over 2 Grand!

I always had the intention of paying off my auto loan for the MINI in less time than the life of the loan. I estimated that I would save about a grand if I sent in a little extra every month. Well a little became as much as I could and boy did it pay off. My 60 month loan became a 22 month loan and I saved about $2200 on interest. Here's the details:

MINI Loan Summary
Loan Amount - (no down payment) - $28,508
Life of Loan - 60 Months
Total Cost of Loan - $31,905
Total Interest Charges - $3,397
Actual Cost of Loan - $29,729
Actual Life of Loan - 22 months
Interest Saved - $2,176

This may not be for everyone but it has been my experience that a little extra every month over your regular payment will make a difference. I was lucky enough to send at least an extra full payment every month. Now comes the hard part, what am I going to do with this new found cash?... spend it on the MINI of course! ;-)


Ninjas, Ninjas and more Ninjas

Last night, MINIUSA and Maxim/Stuff/Blender Mags hosted a private screening of the first three webisodes of the parody/ad campaign, Hammer & Coop as well as the movie Breach (I guess they selected this movie because Chris Cooper is in it). Kevin from PatrickMINI brought out a lighting striped laser blue R56 MCS out to the show. Looks great!

The third webisode of Hammer & Coop, expected to premier Thursday online, is hillarious! There's this great part where Coop makes fun of Hammer when he tries use his wristwatch to call him. I was dying, it was so funny. Be sure to check it out at hammerandcoop.com when it's posted up. I can't wait to see it again. Also, you can also get a sneak peek of future webisodes at your local dealer a day or two before it gets posted. Very cool!

Thanks to all including CMMC and PatrickMINI for inviting us and treating us to some free popcorn, sodas, some mags and a movie. Good show!

Oh, and did I mention ninjas!?!!


R56 Video

Just thought I'd post some video of the New MINI from the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. It's always fun to listen in on non-MINI owners experiencing the MINI for the first time. Enjoy.


2007 Chicago Auto Show

With the auto show coming to town, I could not pass up a first glimpse at the new 2007 MINI Cooper and Cooper S. Check out all the photos here.
Here's a few things I noticed:
  • The sunroof perimeter is not the dreaded felt that we are all used to. It's just a rubber lining so there would be no chance of lint getting cought there. Very nice improvment there, but I would imagine waxing the roof would require a bit of attention.

  • The tail pipe tips are much larger that before. The pipe itself is still the same but the tips are much larger.

  • The seating controls are much improved. Including the location for moving the seat forward and for flipping the seat forward to acess the rear seats. Nice improvement there.

  • The upper glove box is a bit awkward. With absolutely not graphic indication that there is any storage there, many did not know it was even there. You have to push the colored dash for it to pop out and the plastic mechanism is a bit flimsy.

  • The AUX input is located in the glove box, no surprize there, I just wish it were located out in the open so that one could charge their device at the same time. [UPDATE: It was confirmed that it would be located under the toggles. A better location imo.]

  • The sunroof shade is still not solid as some might want. I personaly like the shade not blocking out the sun completely. What is different is the shade can be positioned half way open. Gone is the snap back opening that I'm used to.

  • The speedo is pretty cool. I like the general size and shape. The tach and displays are easy to read. I still don't like the center stack controls.

  • I'm not sure what this rubber button is for on the door handle but it might be for a passenger to unlock their door with the key fob in the drivers pocket. Just a guess though

  • The stalks are nice and sturdy. There's also a button at the end of the turn stalk that you can program to a certain setting on the audio system. i.e. if you use the AUX input alot, you can set it for that button instead of using the dial in the speedo to select the mode to AUX.

  • The wheel arches are much wider, giving the apperance of a raised stance for the MINI. And it is a smooth finish black plastic, not the emossed, texture that we are used to. Not sure if that brings any issues with waxing the new MINI. The models at the show looked to have some blemishes. Also, if you look closely at the image above, you can see a scratch on the edge of the headlight cluster where the bonnet scrapes against the light when its closed. That scares me a little. I really like my bonnet with the lights affixed to it. [UPDATE:the arches shown are just preproduction pieces. The texture will me more familiar on the actual production model.]

  • The auto MCS shift knob has the appearance of a maunal transmission at first glance. You have to really look to to tell the difference.
  • 1/16/07

    What a Tease!

    I'm not one to get too wrapped up in politics, but at least its starting to get interesting. Obama for President? It doesn't seem so unlikely now. It will be fun to see him and Hillary duke it out for the prime spot. On with the show!


    MINI Motorby Program

    We'll see how this works exactly in 4 to 6 weeks. It sounds like a great idea. I guess it worth having a profile over at the MINI owners lounge, although navigation of that website is such a pain. I'll be sure to post any picts of the billboard. I love the tongue in cheek humor of MINIUSA advertising. good job!


    A New MINI Brother

    Well it was bound to happen. A long time college buddy of mine just recently crossed the line into MINI ownership. It's a great time for some deals on those '06's on the lot, now that the 2007 are around the corner. Needless to say, he is extremely thrilled, and I'd like to think that I had a little something to do with it since he picked my brain for some MINI insight. Chilli Red/White MCSa with all the bells and whistles, including the anthrcite headliner, clear bra and roof rack. Very nice! Congrats Jon!For more blurry photos click here [Flickr]

    Also, with a new year comes new audiences. dcmini is now linked from GoMotoring.com on the front page of live RSS feeds. Looks like I'll have to sharpen my proof reading skills ;-) Thanks Mark.

    If you are new to dcmini be sure to subcribe to the RSS feed or email subcription to the right or just get your updates from GoMotoring.com like I do everyday.

    Enjoy and Happy Motoring! Happy New Year Everyone!