MINI gone – Honda here to stay
Once upon a time I had a 2002 MINI Cooper. I bought it after a full-time gig went away, thinking it would be my last car. After all, it was only 10 years old, had just over 123K miles on it and felt good. Engine was strong, brakes, steering and suspension felt great, clutch was soft and doable. That was January of 2012.
I had help putting the silver-on-black base MINI Cooper into proper shape. Firestone provided Indy 500 wide-oval tires, K&N offered a Typhoon cold-air intake and Magnaflow added the cat-back exhaust; the latter two items helped me hear and feel what the car was doing. It was a great ride for nearly four years.
Just before the California Hot Rod Reunion last October, and then with nearly 147,000 on the clock I took Rayder (she’s silver on black) to my regular shop (if you want the name of who to avoid, just contact me) for an oil/filter change, please check ALL fluids (and I asked them to accent ALL). When I picked up the car, there was a plug in one of my tires and it turned out the “work” of changing the oil and filter had been done by a lot boy who checked no fluids at all.
Long story short, a month later the transmission exploded. Despite never seeing any drips below Rayder – easy to daily check a small FWD car – there no longer was any fluid. With my discounts the minimum was $4100 and her value was just over $3000. Sold for $1500. Even with that wonderful sunroof, leather seating, repainted bodywork (metallic paint of that era sucked with new edicts of water-borne paint that hadn’t been properly tested before being imposed), HID headlights, full sport package, oh just about everything I wanted and needed in a car.
That occurred mid-November and left me without wheels. Knowing what I know about cars and looking with a meager budget in hand, I was screwed. Then my friend James Hamel came along and loaned me his brand new Mitsubishi Lancer GT (manual transmission – yay!) with just around 140 miles on it. I think I’ve put more miles on Sir Lancelot than he has – but no more.
After looking at E46 BMWs, C-Class Mercedes-Benz, Hondas of all stripe – especially Element – Scions, Toyotas, Kias, Mitsubishis, Hyundais but little else, I’ve finally brought home a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid 5-speed manual LX sedan model. Before finding this Honda, I had never seen so many crappy cars in my life, or people thinking they’ve got some kinda grail.
Meet Fridge: she’s white with beige cloth interior, and she’s got just under 115,300 miles on her, is very clean inside and out, with a single owner before me. She seems to be in good shape and her headlamp covers are totally clear! How often does that happen?
One reason I purchased this car – other than the $3500 price was right – is that Fridge has manual transmission rather than a CVT (continuously variable transmission or, in reality continually shifting transmission – different acronym, same meaning). Fridge’s clutch was completely replaced about 10,000 miles ago, so she’s got an easy 100K before that needs to be done again.
There is no timing belt on her (she uses a chain) and, in fact, the only item that could become a big ticket is the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), that serves as hybrid power. Oh, and she’s got cruise control, which stops me from getting tickets and/or driving more aggressively than I should in LA’s messed up traffic.
Everything works on Fridge and we’re ready for action. I’m hoping -expecting – that Fridge provides me with the excellent quality and fun quotient I have come to love in Honda cars. I am so grateful to James for his kindness and consideration towards me – don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it. I also hope James enjoys Sir Lancelot as much as I have!
Words and Photos by Anne Proffit