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Old And New, These Are The Track Stars We Love

We like fast machines around here, and that means we're drawn to racecars past and present. Here's a list of our favorites.

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In the wee hours of the morning, police discover four men passed out in a Mini Cooper on the side of the road, with three dead deer in the back of the car and another dead deer outside the car. Can you guess what state this happened in?

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The new Mini Cooper Hardtop only recently reached the market, but already BMW is having to recall a limited number of the hatchbacks.

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BMW just keeps lopping off cylinders from its engines and sliding the ever-more-diminutive mills into its models. This spring, Europeans will get some of the automaker's smallest yet thanks to a new entry-level 2 Series that will share a powerplant with the Mini Cooper. The Bavarian company will also introduce a few other tweaks to the compact coupe across the pond.

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Whenever this writer thinks of fancy parking jobs, we go straight to Buddy Love singing Strokin' in a red Dodge Viper he slides into a tiny space in The Nutty Professor. But after watching the video above, we might have to start thinking about Han Yue, who broke the world record for getting into the tightest parallel parking space. The previous record was set in July 2013 by Alastair Moffatt, who had 3.4 inches to spare between his car and those around. Yue used a Mini Cooper at the China Drift

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Things aren't looking good for Mini this year. The diminutive BMW brand has shown falling sales every month in 2014 in our By the Numbers wrap-ups. If that weren't bad enough, the latest Cooper Hardtop suffered fuel economy issues upon arriving to the US. First, there was a delay getting some versions certified, and then several models had to have their miles-per-gallon ratings revised.

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So Much More Than Toys, These Cars Are Grown-Up Fun For Enthusiasts

Update: Check out our reader submission at the end.

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After the huge problems that Hyundai/Kia experienced with its mislabeled fuel economy labels, you'd think that any time an automaker has to adjust its mpg numbers, heralds would be shouting from the rooftops. But, after Ford admitted to three big mistakes with its numbers for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz had to lower the fuel economy rating for the C-Class, we understand if those heralds are a bit tired by now.

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The Mini brand and its products have typically been a runaway success for BMW, but sales of the retro hatchback dropped a drastic 20.5 percent last month, and have been doing such pretty much all year.

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We've seen it in super high-res glory, and we can even build one on the automaker's website, but the Paris Motor Show marks the official coming out party for the new Mini Hardtop 4 Door (which is what it's called in the US, despite this Euro car having "5 Door" badging). It's a stretched version of the third-generation Mini Hardtop, but with an extra set of doors for rear seat passengers. Think of it as a more useful Clubman, but with a lower ride height and less rugged-ness than the Countryman.

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The Mini Cooper five-door hatchback, which the company insists on calling the Mini Hardtop 4 Door, doesn't start arriving at US dealers until January 2015. However, if you dig the latest model's styling but can't live without the two extra doors, you can start speccing one right now in the recently launched configurator.

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It sold over five million units. It was voted the second most influential car of the last century, bested only by the pioneering Ford Model T. It counted among its owners Steve McQueen, Enzo Ferrari and Peter Sellers. It is the classic Mini.

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With the latest generation of Minis having only recently launched a few months ago, the company's Plant Oxford has found another reason to celebrate as it reached two major milestones almost simultaneously. Since production of the new, BMW-revived version began there in 2001, the factory has produced 3 million of the retro-looking models and 2 million vehicles exported outside of the UK. Just four years ago, it was celebrating building 1.5 million of them.

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A French marketing firm with the impenetrable name of Street Glory Mappers is literally turning cars into billboards. Of course, we've all seen vehicles painted up for promotional use, but this company is taking that concept even further by including video.

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Striking The Balance Its Predecessor Never Could

One of the big challenges as an automotive journalist is reviewing cars that you have a personal connection to. I have a strong passion for Minis. My first new car was a 2004 Cooper S, and I still own a 2006 model. It's this affinity that's left me with a general disdain of the 2007 to 2013 model relative to my first-gen.

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UPDATE: Information on US availability, specification and nomenclature added to the updated text below.

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Lego isn't just for kids anymore. A while back, the company cleverly realized that adults liked its connecting blocks as much as kids but wanted a more sophisticated project to take on. It offers a whole set of Expert models, including a wickedly cool Volkswagen Bus from a few years ago. Now, it's taking aim at automotive enthusiasts again with the recently announced classic Mini Cooper set due to go on sale on August 1 for $99.99.

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