When we drive in our dreams, we throw ourselves through traffic, drive recklessly through local malls, challenge subway trains and dodge hostile men chasing us in helicopters. If we’ve just seen “The Italian Job”, we do it in a Mini Cooper.
Mini Coopers have everything a driver needs to enjoy a car. They’re small, powerful and handle like go-karts. They make a nice noise as well. The Mini was born in 1959 in a plant owned by the British Motor Corporation and kept the same general shape and layout for the next sixty years. The engine sits longitudinally just in back of the front axle. The car is short and the passengers sit upright. There’s not much room for luggage, but the gas mileage and handling are excellent.
The plot of the movie opens with a betrayal of a team of thieves by one of its members, Steve. The team stole $35 million in gold and want to get it out of Italy. Driving through the Alps, Steve leads them to an ambush in which Steve kills the father of Stella, another gang member, and steals the gold for himself. A year later, the gang locates Steve in Los Angeles. They steal the gold from him and use Mini-Coopers to get away. They trap Steve at the end of the movie and allow him to be taken away for torture and death by a Ukrainian mob.
The chase scenes show Steve hunting down the gang in a helicopter through the streets of L.A. The heavily modified Mini’s weave through traffic, play chicken with the helicopter in a parking garage, dash down the stairs in a subway tunnel and drive recklessly through the sewers and onto the L.A. river.
Mark Wahlberg plays Charlie Croker, the team leader. Wahlberg carries an honest sense of menace. As a juvenile, Wahlberg was in trouble with the Boston Legal System 20 to 25 times. He was addicted to cocaine and other illegal substances by age 13. At 16 he attacked two Vietnamese men, in two separate incidents, and served time in prison for attempted murder. He broke the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked assault when he was 21. He came by the criminal life naturally; three of his brothers served time in prison. After realizing that life in prison didn’t fit his personality, he changed and has been living an honorable life since then. However, the feeling of danger clings to him like the smell of his cologne.
BMW owns the Mini-Cooper Company, and they bring their racing expertise to the smaller car. The current performance-tuned Mini-Cooper is a responsive, powerful car with good suspension, brakes and acceleration. The engine of a current Mini Cooper S has a supercharger and puts out 208 horsepower. Swapping the supercharger pulley for a smaller one will increase horsepower by 15%. That’s almost 240 horsepower in a car that weighs under 2,700 pounds. A supercar you can tuck in your pocket.
We don’t live in a movie. We have to drive the kids to the mall as well as spend time on twisty mountain roads. A Mini Cooper is a good dual-personality car.
Author:Andre Smith – Follow him on Google+.