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Waitin' for the boat
Originally uploaded by PorcoRosso.


The MINI is now finished and sitting at the Southampton docks, waiting to board the slow boat to North America. Just one small problem...the boat doesn't come until March 4th. Looks like MINI production has increased to the point where cars no longer go out on the first available boat. So right now it's sitting on the Southampton docks (as seen here...thanks again, Google Earth!), impatiently tapping its 17" alloy foot.

According to the projected voyage schedule from the good people of Walhenius Wilhelmsen, it will disembark in Charleston, SC on March 18. After that, it should take another week or so to reach the dealer and be prepped and upgraded with my chosen dealer options.

Be sure to click the photos and zoom in on the massive collection of MINIs sitting on the dock. That could well be the twee-est auto image EVER.

An-tici.............


pation.
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scheduled
Originally uploaded by PorcoRosso.
For those of you who think I'm taking the whole MINI process a little too seriously, bear in mind two things:

1) This is the first time ever that I'm buying precisely the car I want.

2) They encourage this sort of thing themselves, with their marketing and even with the cheeky online tracking pages. Note the goofy birth metaphor in today's page from order tracking:

Your MINI has been scheduled for production and will begin to move through the "birth canal" at our Oxford plant, one of the most modern and advanced production facilities in all of Europe. With our extremely rigorous quality control standards in place, you should rest well knowing that your baby is in the best of hands.

Yes, as of Friday, the MINI was scheduled for production, and as of today it's IN production with a scheduled completion (birth) date of February 26.

One thing I've learned thus far, and I mention this for any of you who may consider a future MINI purchase: the automated phone hotline is much more detailed and up-to-date than the webpage. The webpage didn't reflect the change to Scheduled status until today, and it makes no further distinction between Scheduled For and In Production. Trust the phone line, that's my advice.

Now, I could be really obsessive and get even more detail by pestering a live phone representative - other bloggers have done so, but I'm not going to go there. So this should be the last MINI update for a while until the 26th. Then things will get really geeky as I bust out the satellite tracking of my MINI on its seaborne journey.

You have to love the Internets for stuff like this.
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mini_plant2
Originally uploaded by PorcoRosso.
As of today, my MINI's status is "Scheduled for production with no confirmed production date", whatever that bit of doublespeak means. In other words, nothing new to report.

Meanwhile, I decided to have a bit of fun with Google Earth and have a look at the MINI factory in Cowley, Oxfordshire, UK. It's just southeast of Oxford proper, and as you can see it's a pretty large facility.

Unfortunately, the satellite detail is missing from part of the image, but you can still make out most of the site. On the upper left is the employee parking lot. The factory employs 4,000 local workers, and if you zoom in you can see that a very large percentage apparently drive MINIs themselves.

South of the parking lots are the main factory buildings. The square building to the far east appears to be the transport terminal, where Europe-bound MINIs are loaded on trucks, and the remainder are placed on trains for the journey to Southampton port.

Somewhere on this site, within viewing distance of the dreaming spires of Oxford, my car's genetic code sits in a computer, waiting to be turned into a bouncing baby MINI.
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my_mini_med
Originally uploaded by PorcoRosso.
As of today, my new car is officially in the MINI ordering system and on its way to being built. I'll try not to bore you with all of the day-to-day minutiae, but thanks to the magic of the online tracking system there may be a few updates along the way.

Anyway, here's a look at my soon-to-be-born MINI as I configured it. Eugenics at work, baby!

It's a Cooper S (the faster 168hp supercharged version) Convertible, with lots of bells & whistles and chrome. It also has a Limited Slip Differential for extra auto-geek coolness and better handling in swervy situations.

People compare the handling to a go-kart, but my goal is to fly the thing as if it's a WWI airplane that just happens to be stuck to the ground. Go-go 7G turns!

The dealership was initially anticipating I might get it as soon as late February, but now it's looking close to mid-March.

The line forms here for top-down roadtrips. Warning: You must be taller than 32 inches to board this ride.

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