It’s a MINI (related) Adventure.
You may have seen the widespread BMW advertising campaign for the new MINI, quoting the slogan "It’s a MINI Adventure", well for Autofashion Boss, and Chief designer Phil Chapman, the events related below really were.
In Early July Phil collected his brand new MINI from BMW, and immediately designed, built and moulded his own bodykit. This was the world’s first production kit for the MINI and has been available since mid July for purchase.
In late August North America’s leading Mini specialist "Mini-Mania" contacted Autofashion with a view to fitting a kit to the MINI of Mini-Mania boss Don Racine. This was to be fitted for the SEMA show in Las Vegas at the end of October, and then a few days later to race at the infamous Leguna Seca raceway in Monterey California.
The kit was made in plenty of time, and then shipped using an unnamed but very famous Parcel Carrier – what a Farce. The kit was sent to New York, and then for some unknown reason returned to Autofashion! This was a potential disaster for Mini-Mania, as there was less than a week to go to the show.
Autofashion spent hours on the phones to airlines, and to carriers desperately trying to find a way to get the kit there in time for Mini-Mania to fit for the show. All carriers could do it but not in time, and the costs were astronomical – someone joked that you could fly there and back for half the freight charges being quoted. This simple joke sparked Phil’s Mini related adventure. After a quick call to the airlines it was clear that they would be happy to take the kits even though they were very bulky instead of suitcases full of luguage.
Next problem was that Phil had never been abroad and had no passport! Photos were taken, and a desperate rush to the very efficient Passport Office at Peterborough followed. The tickets were booked only a few hours before the plane was due to fly and after 50 hours without sleep Phil arrived in San Francisco. He had never been abroad, and had never driven a column shift, or driven on the left. It was a three hour drive some 160 miles to Mini-Mania, a couple of hours much needed rest and then he was to meet the very friendly crew at Mini-Mania.
Straight to the bodyshop high in the mountains of northern California, sorting out glues, paint (the MINI will not be launched in USA until spring 2002 so no-one has any paint codes, and the paints they use are different to UK). One of the Mini Mania crew Steve assisted, and after a hard day Thursday and a very late night for the painter Friday the car was ready for loading on the trailer Saturday for the 600 mile drive through the desert to Las Vegas. The glorious sunshine of northern California made a wonderful working environment and the kit was entirely fitted outside.
The kit was exhibited successfully at the awesome SEMA show which is huge. It is even more impressive given that it is a trade only show, where the traders are not allowed to "shift product" which is american for sell products! The car received a lot of attention and even the great Paddy Hopkirk took an interest in it.
The car left the show early and was racing at Leguna Seca by the weekend. For pictures and mpeg see www.mini-mania.com and for Phil’s own snaps see left hand navigation buttons.