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ISSUE 286This week the Classic Car Buyer team picks out whatever they deem to be ‘the best’ of the Mini, and there’s certainly a lot to choose from. You can read my excuses for the original MkI creation on page 28, but I’m going to make full use of the privileges of an editorial column to add some more thoughts to the pot. While these Best Of features can cause a fair amount of headscratching over the defi nition of ‘best’ the actual genre is rarely in dispute – for example, looking at previous Best Of features, an Italian car is an Italian car, a ‘Sixties car is a ‘Sixties car. But what represents the best of the Mini? Jon Burgess wanted to submit the Unipower GT but we managed to talk him out of it, or at least get him to grudgingly agree to hold fire until we do ‘Best Of Cars Built By Dumper Truck Manufacturers’ or something, on the basis that the Unipower only uses the Mini’s 1275cc drivetrain and therefore represents the Vanden Plas 1300 or the Austin Allegro as much as it does the Mini. I did consider my own rather wildcard choice, which I think is less clear-cut but still rather controversial. What about the Metro? Yes, in strict terms the only parts of the Mini used directly in the angular little car is its drivetrain, which casts it in the same company as the Unipower, but I’d like to argue that the Metro is conceptually a Mini, only better – a literal Super Mini, if you will. There has actually been discussion on the Metro’s place in the Mini story in our sister title Mini World (to which I occasionally contribute the latest snags to befall my own Mini…) and raising the question of whether, these days, Metros are too rare and too significant in their own right to be viewed simply as a source of A-Plus engines and better brakes. I still remember my two-and-a-bit years of Metro ownership with fondness (it was stolen almost exactly a year ago today, in fact). It was an unexpected fondness too, for I really didn’t anticipate how much I, as a card-carrying Mini fan, would grow to like its successor. It may not have the cheeky retro looks or the same widespread adoration from the general public, but the driving experience is virtually identical, only with a better ride, vastly more interior space, less noise, five doors, better fuel economy and very patchy parts support. So maybe Jon was right, and the best Mini isn’t a Mini at all.

Jack Grover
Deputy editor