Blog : Mini madness

Steven Ward

After Richard Aucock’s recent blog and the updated Mini story, I decided to see if it was possible to bag a Mini for the hypothetical monkey. A gloriously fine Bank Holiday Monday last week saw me and my partner heading to BCA’s Easter Auction in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

I gambled that the sale itself would be quiet and nobody would have spotted the Mini Cooper in the prestigious line-up. BCA doesn’t need to heavily advertise to the public and, with it being Easter, I hoped the Trade itself would be relaxing.

The Mini itself was described thus: 96 P Austin Mini Cooper 35. 76,000 (non warranted) miles, sold without warranty, direct from a main agent. I had my hopes held high, the Cooper 35 was a limited run of just 200 to celebrate 35 years of John Cooper taking a royalty from the faster shoeboxes. I got there to find a twin point Mini with a Sports Pack and not the 35 LE as advertised.

That wasn’t all –  the car was rusting from every seam and showed all the usual wear and tear. Still, I’d covered the 150 miles and had no transport home so would have to wait for 3 hours until it went through the ring, whereupon I still fully expected the gavel to fall in my direction for under the £1700 I had tucked inside my sheepskin. The auction itself was absolutely crammed full of Trade & public, to an extent I’d not seen there in some 13 years of buying at Brighouse.

The Mini was a pain to start so it missed its slot by a few minutes. It whined and bounced its way in, as only a tired Min can. The auctioneer gave his customary opening statement, “A real classic here for you boys, none of the German nonsense you’re used to” and set the sale away at £500.

Before I even got a chance to nod a wink in, bidding soared over £2k and finished at…..£2650. Add to this the £200+ Indemnity that BCA will levy and that is one expensive restoration project. Defeated, I returned home on the train.

Wednesday dawned dull and I did my daily ritual and checked what was for sale in the regions 3 main motorcar auctions. Manheim Teesside showed, you’ve guessed it, an Austin Mini 1.0 City E for sale. 27,000 warranted miles, direct from a main agent. Sensing a purchase that could make my Mini mission achievable and off-set the loss of time and money that I’d suffered on the Monday, I gathered up my missus and once again headed south, forsaking an arranged meal out with friends.

This was an evening sale and I anticipated a large number of public with their dog-eared Parkers Guides would be in attendance. Freezing fog may have dulled the evening, but nothing could dull the brutal respray this ARG entry-level model had just received. Still sticky and with more orange peal on display than a Jaffy open day, I was aghast. Not even the underside of the radiator cap had escaped. The block, the wheel arches, in fact, everywhere. The wheels had been rattled-canned silver without any masking or sanding. Awful. Then, of course, there was its stance. Nose down, arse up, it slumped on the worn cones that afflict all Minis if left. Only this car was a classic crabber – the rear subframe may as well have been fitted sideways.

The fresh MOT must surely have come from Blind Dave himself, especially when I caught sight of the cover sills that appeared to have been welded with chicken shit. Anyway, never one to give up, I set myself a limit of £500. Imagine my disappointment when it made double. Imagine my shock when I was told its reserve was over £1k…

There must surely have been a proper Mini in a sale somewhere in the country in the past few weeks…

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

4 Comments on "Blog : Mini madness"

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  1. I’m not surprised you had a problem finding a cheap Mini. The cheapest I’ve seen in ages was £1495 for a tarted up one on a local forecourt.

    I wonder if Clubmans are worth a look at for a cheap Mini – a Clubman with a standard style flipfront might work out cheaper than a ‘proper’ Mini. And most wouldn’t mind the nose – the Clubman’s not exactly unattractive.

    Can’t really say it bothers me either way – I prefer Allegros and Metros to Minis, and a decent enough example of either is yours within your budget of a monkey.

  2. Rhyds says:

    There’s no such thing as a cheap Mini any more. Like the Minor and 2CV before it, it’s gained a “scene”. This means a Mini is “cool” and, like all “cool” cars, they’re immediately worth 60% more than “uncool” cars.

    Its mental that a shed of a car can sell for £2650 when that money would see you wedged in to a sub 10yr old city car that is MUCH more useful than a Mini. I don’t disagree that they’re lovely little cars, but the prices are simply mental. Luckily you can get all the good bits of a Mini with few of the bad – it’s called a Metro 😀

  3. lord sward says:

    Sam Skelton (Capt. Slow) :I’m not surprised you had a problem finding a cheap Mini. The cheapest I’ve seen in ages was £1495 for a tarted up one on a local forecourt.
    – I prefer Allegros and Metros to Minis, and a decent enough example of either is yours within your budget of a monkey.

    I fully agree, they are much the better buy.

  4. James Anness says:

    I’m glad that old Volvos are seen as ‘uncool’ and are therefore cheap to buy!

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