The Italian Job


While many St. Thomas students take to lifted pickups, conforming to a rather unfortunate stereotype, a select few have gone a complete 180. Unlike most students, they saw the impracticality of an F150, why would they possibly need a 4wd truck? For Octavio and Joe, the obvious choice of car when they became eligible drivers was the Mini Cooper. After all, a Mini can easily take on gravel roads and dirt tracks that many full-size trucks never see.

Octavio enjoys his standard transmission Mini Cooper S and its surprisingly great rates. The horsepower, not the insurance, is terrible for a male teenager.
“My favorite part of driving my Mini is being able to drive a manual sports car,” Octavio said.
With 180 horsepower the Mini may sound underwhelming, that’s less than half of the weakest truck, but what the mini lacks in power it earns in weight. In a race to 60, it is only one to two seconds faster than a moderately equipped truck, but in practice, it is much faster. The mini has its wheels at the corners of the car and its weight is low and centralized, so it can corner at 0.85g compared to a full-size truck of approx. 0.7g. All this means that the Mini is much faster in traffic, and able to hold much more speed in corners (very helpful when trying to beat a red light while turning).

Joe loves his Mini for the easy parking, he can take advantage of compact car spaces and all the spaces where klutzes in BMW’s park over the line.

“I get choice parking spots others are forced to pass by,” Joe said.

This is what the Mini is known for to all who have seen the British classic and the American remake, The Italian Job. Both movies star Mini coopers as the choice getaway vehicle for a gold heist. In the original, the Minis can be seen driving through impossible gaps in tight streets and on the roof of the Torino Palavela, Turin, Italy. The modern Minis make their way under LA through sewer pipes with millions of dollars worth of gold in the boot.
The original Mini Cooper was a pop icon in England in the 60s. Everyone from plumbers to rock stars drove a Mini. Soon John Cooper discovered just what Octavio did, the mini was an excellent sports car. He took advantage of the wide stance, central mass, and low weight of the mini, turning it into a rally icon. The Mini outpaced the French, the Germans, and the Italians in their bloated and clumsy sedans. The Mini’s penultimate achievement was three wins at the Monte Carlo rally from 1964 to 1967. The crowning accomplishment was that there was a mini truck.
Unfortunately, Mini died with all the other British car manufacturers. However, there was new hope when BMW revived the brand, producing the first modern Mini in 2001. The modern Mini is a fantastic car, but alas it is plagued with the same flaws as every other BMW, overcomplication, and poor durability. The entertainment system is overly complex and dysfunctional, and the badges and licenses plates fall off the car. So go buy a Mini, enjoy the go-kart feel, but don’t hold it too long or you might just drive the wheels off it.