Home » Droptops In Saint Louis: 1993 Ford Mustang vs 2005 Mini Cooper

Droptops In Saint Louis: 1993 Ford Mustang vs 2005 Mini Cooper

Sbsd 3 30 2023
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Good morning, Autopians! Today we take on the second leg of our Route 66 tour, with a stop in St. Louis, Missouri. But first, let’s see how you got there, and check in on Chicago’s results:

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Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

A decisive win for the Galant. I was curious to see if the wagon bodystyle had enough pull to help the Saturn’s numbers; I guess not. 62,000 miles and rust-free is hard to pass up at that price. But yes, if you buy it, change that timing belt right away.

So now we head southwest through Illinois, past Dixie Trucker’s Home (if you know, you know), through Springfield, across the mighty Mississippi River, past the Gateway Arch to St. Louis, where an unlikely pair of convertibles waits for us.

First, though, it’s story time, if I may… In the spring of 1986, I was on an eighth-grade field trip to visit the Illinois capital of Springfield. There were about forty of us, riding down from the Chicago suburbs in a comfy tour bus (not one of the rickety old Bluebird school buses) for the day. We toured the capitol building, saw Lincoln’s tomb, met with our state representative (a guy who would later become infamous), and all piled back into the bus to head home.

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An hour or so into the trip, a wild pheasant jumped out of the weeds along the shoulder of Interstate 55, directly into the path of our bus’s windshield. The poor bird smashed clean through the right side of the windshield, and landed in a bloody lump of feathers on the entrance steps. Kids in the first two or three rows got a good view (and some blood and feathers of their own), and screams alerted the rest of us further back that something terrible had happened. The bus driver kept his cool and took the next good exit, onto US highway 136, and pulled into–you guessed it–Dixie Trucker’s Home.

For the next five hours, all of us kids milled around the giant truck stop, while we waited for a new bus to arrive and take us the rest of the way home. The phone tree (remember those?) was activated so our parents didn’t worry, our teacher bought us all dinner out of his own money, and we dumped every quarter we had into a row of arcade games. We eventually made it home at around 10 PM, pheasant-free, but with a hell of a story to tell on Monday morning.

Anyway, back to the cars. Here are today’s contestants.

1993 Ford Mustang LX – $3,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 2.3 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed automatic, RWD

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Location: Alton, IL

Odometer reading: 203,000 miles

Runs/drives? Sure does

The now-legendary Fox-body Mustang ran from 1979 to 1993, making this example one of the last. Engine choices came and went over the course of that long run, but one constant trusty powerplant remained: the 2.3 liter “Lima” four. We all wanted the five-liter V8, of course, but I’m willing to bet Ford sold way more of these four-bangers. It’s a good reliable engine, if a bit anemic with an automatic, and it’ll put the wind in your hair just as effectively as the five-point-oh. Just, you know, not quite as much of it.

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The third-generation Mustang wore three distinct faces over its run. This last design, introduced in 1987, has always been my favorite, possibly because of its similarity to the earlier Mustang SVO, which I still covet. It’s a handsome, friendly, approachable look, nothing at all like the angry Mustangs of today. This car wants to be your pal, not scare the crap out of pedestrians in a parking lot.

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This Mustang appears to be in such good shape that I question the listed mileage. This car has a five-digit odometer, so it might actually be 103,000 miles. I know the engine and drivetrain can go 200,000 miles, but Ford interiors of this era don’t often hold up this well. If it actually is 203,000, someone took damn good care of it.

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This plum-colored pony car is for sale at a dealership, so don’t expect to get much in the way of service records. But it’s a simple car, especially with the four; there’s just not much to go wrong, and it doesn’t have enough power to beat things up too badly. It should be a nice reliable ride for a good long while.

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2005 Mini Cooper convertible – $3,800

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD

Location: St. Louis, MO

Odometer reading: 122,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yep!

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BMW’s revived Mini Cooper has had a rocky road since its 2002 introduction. It got rave reviews, but quickly gained a reputation for mechanical troubles. It’s fun to drive, but a bit fragile, and not nearly as easy to work on as the BMC/British Leyland/Rover original. The new Mini did manage one trick the original never did, however: in 2004, a convertible version was introduced.

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The Mini convertible has a “sunroof” mode as well, just in case you don’t want to go full-open-top. It’s a bit like the Webasto cloth sunroofs that were popular when the original Mini was around. Of course, you can open it all the way for the true convertible experience. It’s always a plus when an ad for a convertible shows it with the top up and down. It’s not a guarantee that the top motor works, but it’s a good sign.

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This Mini Cooper is not the S model, so it lacks the supercharger and the six-speed manual. This one makes do with five forward gears, luckily in a Getrag box that’s more durable than the original Rover-derived five-speed. This Mini has 122,000 miles on it, and the seller says it runs well. It was used as a daily driver until recently, when it was retired to weekend duty.

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This car is in good condition cosmetically, and it’s a great color. There are a few bumps and bruises, but that just means you don’t have to worry about it in parking lots. It has the seventeen-inch wheels from the Cooper S, which give it a little bit more serious stance, but it does make replacement tires a bit more expensive.

So there we are; two different ways of taking your top off in Middle America. Open-air road tripping is a unique experience everyone should try. So what will it be: the slightly-underpowered classic Mustang, or the fiery orange Mini?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
1 year ago

As I write it’s 109 votes for the Mustang to 108 for the Mini. Shaping up to be one of the closest showdowns of all time?

Bach1991
Bach1991
1 year ago

Google paid 99 dollars an hour on the internet. Everything I did was basic Οnline w0rk from comfort at hΟme for 5-7 hours per day that I g0t from this office I f0und over the web and they paid me 100 dollars each hour. For more details
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Last edited 1 year ago by Bach1991
Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago
Reply to  Bach1991

still not enough to cover the maintenance on a BMW Mini Cooper 😛

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago
Reply to  Bach1991

Last edited 1 day ago by Bach1991″

Is this what the edit button leads to, was it a legit-looking post edited to spam or are they coming back and undoing the Autopian staff’s edits?

Phyrkrakr
Phyrkrakr
1 year ago

Oh, if we’re cruising Route 66 through St. Louis, gotta stop for Ted Drewe’s. I voted Mustang, because that red interior looks too nice not to enjoy. It’s hard to vote for a four cyl auto against a four cyl stick with half the miles, but man, nostalgia and aftermarket is too strong to say no to the ‘Stang.

Nycbjr
Nycbjr
1 year ago
Reply to  Phyrkrakr

100% stop at Ted Drewes the concretes are awesome!

Mike Kovac
Mike Kovac
1 year ago

I hate them both but I hate the Mini less.

Crisis
Crisis
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Kovac

I like them both, but I like the Mini less.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
1 year ago

That mustang reminds me of the one my friend had in college. The more obnoxious sound system I ever heard, then he swapped the engine for the 8 cyl, now it was dangerous as hell lol

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
1 year ago

Taking the mustang but leaving the whitewalls. Undoubtedly the mini is a more engaging drive, but I have to think of my wife here, and there’s little doubt that she’d never ride in it. I’d also be missing the hell out of my ’85 GT every time I put my foot down, but then again, I have to remember my wife who probably wouldn’t get the same thrill when the secondaries open up.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
1 year ago

This one is hard. The mustang is the least desirable out there, but is a solid platform for an engine/trans swap, but it’s not quite cheap enough for me to want to do that. The mini is a time bomb and while it’s fun when it runs, I foresee more issues. So fun car that has issues, or bland car that shouldn’t need a lot. I went with the Mustang this time.

World24
World24
1 year ago

I’d trust an early Mini about as much as a Jeep with a power top (like the Liberty’s Sky-Roof) or a Mopar products air suspension.
Automatic be damned, Foxbody all the way.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

Having owned sportier versions of each, I’m going with the Mini. Minis are just too damn fun to drive.

I had a ’90 Mustang GT convertible with 5-speed, and it was a great and reliable car. But I also had a Mustang II with the Lima and a 4-spd, and it was meh. I image the Lima with slushy is about as much fun as watching a marathon of Too Close for Comfort. Not the worst thing in the world, but pretty boring before long.

A Mini with a manual is not boring. Sure, a non-Cooper S isn’t going to win any stoplight drags, but that was never Mini’s thing. The go-kart handing is real. Seek out the curves. Maximize the slow-car fast mantra. As far as reliability, the first gens aren’t the worst. And this one looks reasonably well cared for. It WILL have issues, but it won’t be in the shop every month as long as you take care of it.

Bach1991
Bach1991
1 year ago

Google paid 99 dollars an hour on the internet. Everything I did was basic Οnline w0rk from comfort at hΟme for 5-7 hours per day that I g0t from this office I f0und over the web and they paid me 100 dollars each hour. For more details
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Last edited 1 year ago by Bach1991
Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
1 year ago

This was a tough choice; we have the 06 Mini Cooper S convertible with similar miles, and it is a blast to drive, even tho its an automatic. Manual would have more funners. But I will acknowledge it has been expensive to fix – a coolant leak lightened the wallet significantly, due to the labor necessary to get at it and the other parts that needed replacement. But it does have a timing chain not a belt (not sure if the non-S has this tho).
On the other hand, lately I am getting into vintage Fords (a few decades older than this mustang) and have confidence that replacing the engine would not be out of my wheelhouse.
Maximillian has the correct take, I think – my vote goes for the Mini.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

The Mustang’s condition and repairability win this one. You can’t think of it as a Pony of sports car. It’s for restaurant and ice cream shop runs, and that’s about it. But it will do that for a very long time.

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
1 year ago

The body on the Mustang is worth the price alone. As others have said, aftermarket support is huge for these, and it is easy to add more power.

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
1 year ago

The base cooper is hardly a maintenance nightmare. Worst case you need to replace the entire cooling system, clutch & flywheel, power steering pump, all bushings & ball joints, shocks, some gaskets, and maybe some electronics for the windows/doors/top. I’d say $10k, tops from a reputable shop, or $2k + a year of life expectancy if you go the DIY route.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 year ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

So your mini is like George Washington’s axe?

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 year ago

In high school I had a friend (or a friend of a friend, really) with an automatic, four cylinder Fox body convertible. It was terribly slow, the top leaked from seemingly everywhere, and had body flex for days – to the point that if it was parked with any flex in the chassis, the doors didn’t want to close. But, as others have said, the Fox has great aftermarket support, and I’ve spent enough time fighting the mechanisms of another friend’s Mini convertible, that Fox body it is.

Gene1969
Gene1969
1 year ago

Ooh! Close race. I chose the Mustang.

Mike Holzer
Mike Holzer
1 year ago

I didn’t even need to read this one in order to vote; it had to be the Fox Body. Could have been a burn victim and the Mini could have gold bullion in the trunk, it would still be the Mustang.

ES
ES
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Holzer

so a handful of krugerrand blanks in the trunk? (coming to a theater near you: the italian diversion)

R50 had usable cargo space with the seats down, but after following that with a 500c, i’d never again sacrifice the hatch of a hatchback with a droptop. the fiat’s cargo space compared to a commercial microwave oven.

10001010
10001010
1 year ago

Even without the 5.0 I’m going to pick the Mustang, however our Route66 trip is now going to have to take a detour to A1A BEACHFRONT AVENUE!!!

Pleiades
Pleiades
1 year ago
Reply to  10001010

Word to your mother.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago

How the fuck is the Mini winning this? They are some of the worst cars ever made, even worse than the 70s Mustang it’s up against.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Yes, but if you ever drove a fox body if this vintage, you would know the AOD trans was equally garbage and the 2.3 pinto motor was weak, this having those 2 things and RWD so no winter beating either. This was some retirees last hurrah, it is very clean for what it is and certainly a tough choice in the end though.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

still cheaper to replace that shit than even one year of Mini maintenance 😀

Besides, you can always swap in a Godzilla and a better trans 😉

Chris Moore
Chris Moore
1 year ago

Mustang then engine swap. Whatever you want…personally for the 4 cyl, I’d go with a modern ecoboost just annoy people. That might annoy more than an LS swap

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Moore
JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Moore

IT is a legit SVO homage, still slower than current v8’s and possibly even an old 5.0 though.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

I don’t know about slower than an old 5.0. 215hp and earth shattering torque compared to 310 hp and 320 lb/ft of torque. I think the ecoboost in and old LX would smoke old 5 liters….

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago

I’ll take the fun hit from the slush box over the inevitable headaches a mid 2000s BMW will come with

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 year ago

I want a Syclone, not a BMW maintenance headache from Cyclone Car Care.

Griznant
Griznant
1 year ago

The Mustang looks nice and its slowness is something that can be fixed easily with monumental aftermarket support. The Mini is cool but scares the hell out of me with reliability and “modern” complexity. Gotta go with the Fox-body.

Last edited 1 year ago by Griznant
JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Griznant

I kind of agree, but I always kind of wanted a mini, I am hoping the experience deletes that desire in my head

Andy Summers
Andy Summers
1 year ago

My sister-in-law bought a used MINI convertible, but took it to the dealer within a week due to some odd engine noise. The dealer did a repair and took it for a test drive. The engine caught on fire and was a loss. The MINI is small and cheerful, but like all British (OK, German in this case) fun cars, you never know when a catastrophic failure will occur. The Stang isn’t as sexy, but parts are cheap, the ride is soft, and the failures will be a succession of snmall cuts rather than a one sudden disaster. I’ll take the pony.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 year ago

A Fox-body vert with The Good Wheels (and whitewalls!)? Shut up and take my money!

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
1 year ago

Mustang! But, I’m biased. I looked at several of these about a year ago, when I was convertible shopping. I ended up with a 2001 model. This one looks to be in very good shape, and not too outrageously priced. If I went with a fox body, I was looking at earlier 4-eyed ones. I wanted rwd and a manual (and cheap), so I’m not the mini’s target customer.

Marc Miller
Marc Miller
1 year ago

Just couldn’t do the Mini hearing the clanking chains of the Ghost of Poor Reliability. I’ll take my chances with that Mustang with the tractor engine!

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Marc Miller

Pinto, the Lima 4’s were not used in any tractors.

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