A Mini Adventure

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A boys’ day out for me! John C and I took a drive to the Mini production line in Cowley! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

The home of the Mini

These days, early departures for me are rare, so leaving ours at the unearthly hour of 7.30am felt like a bit of a stretch. It was going to be worth it though!

Welcome to Cowley!

We arrived just before 9am after a reasonably good journey, but we did get caught in some roadworks just before the Silverstone Bypass (note to self: If the sat-nav says ‘don’t use the A40’, it’s normally right!)

On arrival, we parked in the Cowley Plant car-park and headed for the Mini Welcome Centre. There, we were introduced to Graham, our Tour Guide.

Every iconic Mini since 1959! (Even a Morris Minor)

We were given around half-an-hour to look around their ‘Mini Museum‘ where there were examples of the various incarnations of this iconic brand โ€“ dating as far back as 1959.

Autograph anyone!

Next were two short videos explaining the H&S requirements and finishing with an explanation of the factory’s philosophy of how they build their cars. All very interesting stuff, but the Germanic tone of voice did make the latter sound like more of an ‘order’ than simply an information exchange! ๐Ÿง. Let’s not forget that BMW own the Mini brand though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yes, that is fur in the Mini closest to the lens

Sadly, after the Museum, we were required to hand in our camera phones (not surprisingly, I guess!) and the Tour began. I’ve been on a few of these type of Tours before (Volvo, Jaguar and Ford), but even I was surprised to see how much of it is now automated. In fact, during the first part of the tour where were saw the chassis being welded, I think there were around 40 robots… and just two people! It all felt very spooky!

Happily, in the next part of the Production, the car began to look like the familiar Mini, and there were a lot more staff around, busy ‘doing their thing’, but we did wonder how long before that part isl automated???? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Quirky fact of the day? They use ostrich feathers to remove all traces of dust prior to painting the cars โ€“ I’m pretty sure a robot can’t do that as it seems we can replace humans, but not ostriches! ๐Ÿ˜€

Two-hours later, it was all over. A great experience, if a bit rushed โ€“ and we could have done with a coffee-break or an opportunity for something to eat at the end. Thankfully, the journey home was jam-free, but we were ‘trapped in Burger King‘ for about half an hours (poor sods!) when the heavens opened, making it impossible to get back to the car. I dropped John back at his, and I was home just before 2pm. As there seemed to be so much going on at home this week, I was grateful to have clawed a few hours back!

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