Text by Karl H. Kazaks
Photos by Nathan Cooke

Reginald Davis knows what it’s like to feel a calling. He’s been a devoted religious man since 1977, when, as he says, “I met the Lord.” For the past eight years, he’s been the pastor of Strait Gate Ministries in Christiansburg where his wife, Evelyn, is the church’s director of women. One Saturday, a few years ago, he was at a Christian bookstore, when he felt a different kind of calling.

“We had gone to get some literature for Sunday school,” he recalls. “I had been looking at MINI Coopers online,” inspired by seeing one at a neighborhood block party. “I liked their shape and size.” He suggested to his wife that they drive to Winston-Salem to inspect the cars on display at the MINI Cooper dealership there.

“Why?” she asked,
“Just to look,” he replied. “We ended up driving one away. Well – I did, anyway.”

The Davis’s 2013 MINI Cooper is notable for its aftermarket decorative check detailing. It came from the lot as a black-and-white two-tone. Their son, Rikki, added the details, which form swooping patterns on the sides of the car from the front to rear wheels, as well as down the back and on the hood. The car even has a black-and-white checkered flag fluttering from the roof and black-and-white checkered seat covers. The roof of the car is presently solid black, but Davis is considering added a check pattern to it as well.

The vehicle is a two-door, four-seater, with comfortable room for adults in the front seats.

“I’ve had tall people say they didn’t think they could get into it,” he recalls. “But when they try, they fit, and they like it.”

The MINI has the base 121-hp, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. It gets good mileage which is useful as they drive it frequently to see grandchildren in the Carolinas and Georgia. MINI Coopers have a distinctive look, thanks to their relatively diminutive size and the prominent beltline between the windows and body panels. The front end of the car has an open, appealing look ~ something it shares with the Davises themselves, who are quick to wear the smiles which light up their faces.

One standout aspect of the MINI’s front end is its big, oval headlights. The lights actually present through apertures in the hood, so that when the hood is lifted, you can pass your arm through the gap for each light. The car has front-wheel drive and handles well in snow. It is his regular ride to work at Montgomery County schools, after having retired from Virginia Tech.

The MINI Cooper rides quite comfortably and has good power. “You won’t know you’re driving that fast,” Davis states. “You have to keep your eye on the speedometer.” That’s easy to do because it has an oversized circular speedometer in the center of the dash. Inside there is more modern technology, such as six airbags – two in the front, two at the sides and two mounted in the roof.

While the space in the backseat isn’t large – the car, after all, is called a MINI – the Davises have toted grandchildren back there. When the back seats are not occupied, they fold down, making the rear storage area feel “like a mini-station wagon,” Evelyn says. She drives a car of a rather different stature than the MINI – a 2006 Lincoln Town Car, but she likes riding in Reginald’s MINI (which has the license plate “REG – MIN”).

“We get a lot of looks,” she says. “He loves that car, and sometimes I feel that I’m in competition with it.” While it’s true Reginald is a fan of his MINI – he cheerfully wears a MINI Cooper hat and shirt when the mood is right, it’s clear, from the way the happy couple interacts, that as much as the car brings a smile to Reginald’s face, it’s Evelyn who lights up his heart.