More than just a car: MINI love stories. 

There is a moment in every Miniac's life when they realise that they are hooked. One day, they look in the mirror and the person looking back is not just someone who appreciates classic Minis and modern MINI vehicles, but someone who loves them. Perhaps you are also one of these people. But how does this love affair begin, and what makes it so special for each individual? We visited the International MINI Meeting 2023 in Florence, Italy, where we spoke to some of the people of the MINI community who not only love MINI but whose passion elevates it beyond being just a vehicle.  


Attila Fülöp's Mini is not just one of the most colourful Mini ever created; it's actually a tribute to all International MINI Meetings, which have been going strong since the end of the 1970s. This is great, considering Attila – who is now the president of MINI Club Hungary – wasn't even interested in, or aware of, the classic Mini until he saw a green Mini Cooper that had belonged to his then-employer in 2013. That car was in some disarray: it had no lights, the wheels were deflated, and the brake oil was leaking. “I said if I could take it home, I could fix it up. So, my employer gave me the keys and told me that if I could repair it, I could drive it.” But Attila didn’t just repair it; he fell in love with it the first time he drove it. “I was blown away by the driving experience, and I kept asking where MINI had been all my life.” Fast-forward to 2018, and Attila had the chance to design a souvenir Mini model (a 1:43-scale diecast Corgi model ) to be exact, for an IMM-organised competition. His idea was to drape a Mini with flags of previous IMM host countries (in chronological order), with the Union Jack adorning the top of the car. In the end, he won the competition, which meant that his special car was also produced as a limited line of toy cars. And it has been a star wherever it goes ever since.  

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Attila Fülöp and his Mini is a tribute to past IMM's, and also the international community that makes MINI the brand that it is.
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Around 20 years ago, when Olivier had an accident with his motorbike, he realised he needed a new, safer toy. "When I drove the Mini, I fell in love. You don't have to break the speed limit to have fun. If I wanted the same excitement from other cars, I would lose my driving licence every day," he says with a laugh. Since then, Olivier has bought and repaired Minis in his own garage in Nantes, France. His passion and involvement with the little car rubbed off on his son, Iowan. “I saw my dad repair old Minis in our small garage, and I thought they were amazing.” Although Iowan is not old enough to have a driver's licence yet, he and his father have already prepared a Mini just for him, so when he gets that licence, he can immediately take their beloved car for a spin. Although he’d rather let his father do the repairing. “I did some repairs on my car, but I would rather just drive it.” As for Olivier, he still has big plans to expand his carefully handled Mini collection. He would like to race his Mini one day, and he also wants to get his hands on a Mini Marcos, a special two-door coupé version of the Mini. As to whether his ambitions will one day rub off on his son, or whether he'll be satisfied with finally being able to drive his own Mini, the jury's still out.  

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Olivier and Iowan represent Big Love that stretches across generations. Apart from memories, they also managed to snag an autograph from Rally and MINI legend, Rauno Aaltonen.
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Christian and his wife Diana live in Berlin, so it seems like an inevitability that they would have a car that was brimming with character. In fact, Christian's wife's first car was a Mini, so in 2011 he decided that he would get her another one. And what luck; it turned out that Christian’s boss had a Mini. And even better, Diana was away on a business trip, which gave Christian the perfect opportunity to surprise her. And although the car had been sitting in a garage for more than ten years and had a 2 cm thick layer of dust over it, he bought it. He picked up Diana immediately from the airport and took her to see their new Mini. Her first words upon seeing it were, "For God's sake, I do not want a car this ugly." Turns out, it wasn't just any Mini, but a special Grand Prix edition – of which only 500 were ever made – with a very particular body kit. The couple decided to fix up the car and sell it. But before getting rid of it, they thought they'd participate in a little local quarter-mile race, just for the fun of it. As Christian was sick, Diana took the wheel. She drove in the race, and when she returned, the first thing she said to her husband was, "We're not selling this car." Sometimes it's that simple to fall in love for a lifetime. Since then, the pair have acquired three other Minis, and we hope their family will continue to grow.  

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What do you think? Is the Grand Prix as controversial as Diana thought?
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Did you know that it is quite hard to find a classic Mini in Norway? When Przemek moved to the Nordic country from his native Poland in 2012, he had to sell his old 1966 Mini. But a few years later, he decided that he wanted to drive a Mini again. It took him until 2021 to get his hands on one. The Norwegian market is small, and there aren't many sales annually. Przemek had to spend years trying to find the exact type of classic Mini he wanted. One day, he found one that was apparently only 10 km from his home. Apparently, the car had been parked in a street, covered up for over ten years. It sounded perfect. Too perfect. By the time Przemek got there, he was told that the car had been towed and taken to a junkyard to be demolished. And there he stood, outside that junkyard's gates, way after closing, looking at what must have been the Mini hidden under dirty covers. He had to quickly strike up a deal with the person who legally owned the Mini to save it from oblivion. Then came the hard part. The Mini, a 40th-anniversary Special Edition no less, was in complete disrepair. More than ten years of Norwegian winters will do that to any car. Przemek spent the next two years restoring it to be as authentic as possible. He wanted the car to be ready in time for the International Mini Meeting. And just at the beginning of this year, his very special Mini was good to go. And the car works like a charm. So much so that Przemek drove his entire family – his wife and two daughters – in the Mini from Norway. Driving about 600 km per day, they arrived in Florence ahead of time. “We decided to drive for four days, but after two days we were in Italy. It was a really good drive, and my daughter got to celebrate her birthday in Italy.” Hopefully they had ample opportunities to stretch their legs and to celebrate.  

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Przemek almost missed out on his beloved 40th-anniversary Special Edition Mini, which just goes to show that if you want a MINI, you should never hesitate.
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The remarkable thing about a MINI is that even when it just looks like a simple MINI that anybody could buy at any time, you can be sure that the story of the car and its owner will be anything but conventional. Such is the case with Christoph, who was very lucky as a young man. His dad wanted him to drive a nice German car, like an Opel or Astra. Sensible? Possibly, but Christoph wasn’t interested. He desperately wanted a MINI, and he got the chance to purchase a MINI One at a reduced price when he was still in his teens. That was 11 years ago. Since then, Christoph and his car have been inseparable. He still uses the car every day, he has slept in it and has used it to move apartments on multiple occasions. Once when he visited Lake Garda in Italy, a storm blew away their tent, but luckily, his MINI was there to provide an adequate replacement. Indeed, Christoph hopes that this MINI will be his only MINI, and he means it in a completely positive way. “I have done a few things to the car, a few minor repairs, but I’ve never had trouble with it, never.” And we’d love for it to stay that way.  

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Christoph's MINI is nothing special (apart from being a MINI) at first glance, but has given him incredible memories to last a lifetime.
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The International MINI Meeting (IMM) is an annual gathering of MINI car enthusiasts from around the world. It serves as a platform for MINI owners, clubs, and fans to come together and celebrate their passion for classic Minis and the new MINI cars. The event includes displays of MINI cars, social activities, group drives, workshops, and entertainment. It fosters a sense of community among MINI enthusiasts and allows them to connect, and create lasting memories. The IMM was first held in 1978, in Germany, and since then has been hosted by numerous countries. Participants sometimes drive for days to get to the gathering. If you’re a MINI fan, you should definitely visit at least once. 

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