The heyday of the Mini Cooper was the "swinging Sixties" in London. The British Motor Company owned two brands, Austin and Morris, both of which marketed various "Mini" models, which closely resemble today's MINIs. (The Austin Mini's tininess was commemorated in a mildly naughty limerick that begins "There once was a man from Boston.") One of these Mini models picked up the "Cooper" label when it was re-engineered for rallies by legendary race car designer John �xADCooper--"rallying" being an obscure brand of racing that never really caught on this side of the Atlantic. BMW bought BMC in 2000, designed an all-new model, and renamed the brand MINI. What's with the caps? It's a marketing thing.
The MINI Hardtop is by far the most popular--Woolson says the first one to sell, a few days after they opened, was "a pepper-white MINI hardtop." But there are actually seven models, from the Coupe, a jaunty little thing that looks like it's wearing a backwards baseball cap, to the Countryman, a mini SUV.
MINI of Ann Arbor, 3500 Jackson Rd. 929-4601. Mon. & Thurs. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tues., Wed., & Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sun. miniofannarbor.com
[Originally published in August, 2013.]