International Mini Meeting 2024 - an adventure to remember!

The IMM returned this year to Germany from 30th May to 3rd June, hosted by Mini IG Bamberg. Extreme wet weather had been forecast, but that didn't deter thousands of Mini fans from making their way to Geiselwind in Bavaria for the four-day festival.

If you've never been to an International Mini Meeting before, it's quite self-explanatory - a social get-together for likeminded Mini fans that moves between countries each year. 

So grab your camping gear (or book a hotel if you're feeling posh), pack the Mini and head off on an annual adventure.

It's different to a regular Mini show, with as much emphasis on the socialising as the cars themselves, and each event is hosted by a different Mini club, so they all have a unique flavour.

But the biggest draw has to the adventure of trekking across Europe in a classic Mini, the achievement of making it there and back and the people you meet along the way. And the more events you visit, the more friends you'll reunite with each year.

Despite the classic Mini being a largely British creation, its fan base is very much worldwide, with the first IMMs all held in Germany, from 1978 to 1982.

Since then the event has moved across Europe and traditionally comes back to England every five years. It seems that the further from the UK you travel, the more enthusiastic Mini fans become! 

COVID put the brakes on for three years, so the Bamberg Mini Club had its event rescheduled twice before finally getting the go-ahead this year. And although the weather was undeniably awful, hats off to the organising team for managing one of the smoothest events in recent times.  

For those who braved the camping, heavy rain brought muddy conditions to the event ground, and some spots were drier than others, but it's an IMM - it happens. In the venue's favour was the large indoor arena where bands and DJs played until the early hours.

As part of the entry ticket, there were food vouchers for the pizza van and Airstream-based eatery. Plus of course a customary IMM T-shirt and grille plaque. Have you really experienced Germany without a trying some bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer?

MINI had a decent presence, with a range of new models alongside early rally cars, the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally winning trophy and fun activities for the kids. 

MINI had brought along an outdoor photo stage, complete with Monte Carlo rally back drop and rocky cliff, which you could reverse your Mini up a ramp to replicate a famous photo of Timo Makinen/Paul Easter's famous Mini win.

There were even magnetic AJB 44B plates and door numbers to complete the look, with free photo prints as a souvenir - a nice touch!

We spotted flying Finn Rauno Altonen there too, signing signatures and generally being a legend.

Elsewhere, a steady stream of Mini shoppers browsed the trade area in search of rare parts and Mini merchandise, of which you find a different selection to regular UK Mini shows.

Unusual alloy wheels, dashboards and trim are worth looking out for, as the Mini was made and sold across the world in different local varieties.

The main event hall hosted the traditional opening and closing ceremonies, where the large IMM key is symbolically handed over to the next year's hosts, and was a good chance to escape the wet conditions. 

The show and shine competition came down to a public vote on the Sunday, and Sandra Wright's stunning Island Blue and White MkI Cooper S took first prize after its extensive restoration.

The club games, loudest exhaust competition, autotest and rocker cover race also kept the crowds amused during the day time, or there were coach trips out to the historic local city of Bamburg if you fancied something more touristy.  

Mini rocker cover race

Is there anything more geeky? We're not sure, so we had a go, and actually it was a whole load of fun!

Some 86 grown adults were there competing to have the fastest rocker cover on the scaled-down ramp, complete with electronic timing gates, a lighting 'tree' and computer controlled results.

The premise is simple - build a four-wheeled gravity racer from an A-Series rocker cover that fits within set dimensions and weighs no more than 8lb. Line it up at the top, then let gravity and a bit of luck do the rest. 

The kids class aims to be even more straightforward, with a more restrictive skateboard axle design allowing for more fun and less expense. 

So do you choose a light weight setup or a heavy brick, thin disc wheels or roller blade specials? There's probably some university dissertation in the making with the physics involved, but it's supposed to just be a bit of fun. 

There were all sorts of designs, some replicating their owner's real Minis, others with amusing add-ons and those designed to be absolute speed demons. 

Trevor Toombs modified his Mini Pick-up themed rocker cover mid-contest with three cans of ale for extra ballast, which seemed to improve performance considerably!

Before heading out to the IMM, we found a damaged MED alloy rocker cover and dismantled some old hard disc drives to make use of the metal discs as thin wheels.

These were mounted to a radio control car axle with plastic bearing carriers and some ceramic roller bearings with the seals removed.

Opting to max-out the weight, the internals were filled with stick-on tyre weights until within 1-gram of the target, and off we went. After carefully tracking the 'car' in the warehouse before setting off, we knew it rolled relatively well and straight.

And as it turned out, it was pretty quick. As numbers slowly reduced with the knock-out format on day two, we were still in with a chance for a trophy. The final result was a third place and neat little trophy, which now lives proudly in our showroom here at MED!

Our fastest time of 2.20 seconds down the ramp was some way off the fastest 'Masters Class' rocker covers, so we'll have to improve for next year...

It's all very silly, but like the evening entertainment and club games, a great way to bring people together. It was one of the highlights of the trip.  

The road trip

We headed down in our project Japanese Mini 40 and decided to turn the adventure into an annual holiday, rather than a flat-out Autobahn blast.

After a leisurely drive down to the channel tunnel, we decided to make best use of Belgium's lorry-free Sunday roads and quickly made it out of France to the border. 

When you're buzzing down the road at 65mph, snailing past stacks of HGV traffic on the motorway can be a real grind, and we didn't want to hammer the car at 4000rpm for hours on end.

The rain began an hour or so into Belgium and it was properly torrential, to the point where we considered jumping off the motorway. But the little wiper blades' kept going, the screen stayed largely de-misted and the new sound system was pumping. It was luxurious by Mini standards!

So far so good, and having a later MPi engine block, there was no wet distributor to worry about. The only slight gripe was a water leak into the cabin, which we'll need to try and sort at some point before it causes any issues. 

For the first two nights we stopped at the pretty Belgian town of Dinant on the banks of the River Meuse.

Drawn in by Maison Leffe, we had a tour of the Belgian beer museum in an old chapel, before a meander through the town.

It's an ideal first destination to stop over for a couple of nights, with history, scenery and good beer in equal measure. 

From Dinant we trekked east to Luxemburg, avoiding the motorways for a few hours before conceding to the local traffic and jumping on to the German Autobahns. They're not all free of speed limits, but quite a few are, and the speed difference to a classic Mini can be quite alarming. 

Our stop-off for the next two nights was central Nuremburg (no, not Nurburg!), a Bavarian city with an equally interesting, yet sometimes dark history.

Today it's a fascinating place to explore, from the cobbled streets to the former rally grounds, and we were there just in time for an Oktoberfest-style Bank Holiday beer festival!  

Relaxed and ready for the IMM, we wiped the Mini over with Meguairs' fantastic water-less wash and wax in the hotel car park and headed back west to Geiselwind.

Next year's IMM will return to the UK, and be hosted at Laughton Showground near Lewes by the Mini Cooper Club. If you fancy a trip further afield, in 2026 the IMM key is handed to Poland. We wouldn't miss it!

Stephen Colbran

June 2024