Moldova is a tiny little country nestled in between Romania and the Ukraine. It’s not a large country and it’s not a wealthy country, so finding passionate car enthusiasts might be prove difficult. However, there is at least one man in Moldova who’s willing to show off his passion. In this new video from Petrolicious, we’re introduced to Sergiu Topala, the One-Man MINI Cooper Club.
Topala has spent the last eighteen years working on cars in a work shop in Moldova. He started the shop with friends and struggled for some time, as they cut their teeth learning to work on and modify cars. They specialized in imported UK-based MINI Coopers and converting them to left-hand drive. After many years of doing so and becoming quite experienced, Topala started to love the MINI brand and decided he wanted one of his own. But he wanted his to be a genuine left-hand drive car, as he wanted it unmodified when it got to him.
Once he got his classic MINI, a car built far before BMW’s affiliation with the brand, he began making it his own. His feelings about his car almost perfectly express how most car enthusiasts feel about their own car, or at least a car they’ve owned in the past. Cars can be special, they can form a bond with you that seems ridiculous from the outside but makes perfect sense to you. It’s like a family member. Topala compares his car to his dog, which goes along with him on his many drives, and in a lot of ways that makes a lot of sense. Cars, like dogs, can be your companion.
The biggest trip he takes in his car is about 3,500 km each way. He goes into Hungary, Italy and eventually the UK to meet up with MINI enthusiasts from around the world. Topala is proud that he gets to represent his country as the lone MINI Cooper fan at these meets and says that it feels like one giant family. It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter which MINI you drive. The only thing that matters is that everyone there shares the same passion. Like a family. I did three days with MINI during a MINI Takes the States event and I can personally attest to everything Topala says. MINI fans might be the most loyal and welcoming automotive fans in the world, from what I’ve seen and everything Topala is saying only reinforces that.