By 25 September 2010 6 Comments Read More →

Wood & Pickett Minis

Wood & Pickett’s riposte to Radford’s upmarket de Ville…

HAVING seen how Radford’s Mini de Ville conversions were catching on, Wood & Pickett decided that they too could take a slice of the action. They set about creating their own “Margrave” conversion, apparently taking their first order from actress Hayley Mills (although this may be apochryphal).

Trademark Margrave features included the obligatory redesigned dashboard, spotlights recessed into the grille (a la Radford) and WP’s own-design nudge bars which soon became the last word in Mini-chic. But few customers stopped there: Wood & Pickett were in the business of making dreams come true, so in addition to an options list as long as your arm they were prepared to consider undertaking just about anything requested of them.

A Mini Margrave interior, this example dating from the mid-Seventies. The central area housing the instruments, radio and glovebox lid would more typically be given a walnut veneer finish rather than this all-white treatment.

Popular interior upgrades included more supportive and adjustable front seats, Dralon or leather retrims, electric windows and sunroofs, while outside many owners opted for wider wheels with extended arches, rear wash-wipe and deeply-tinted windows. For those with a bit more to spend, Wood & Pickett offered a full de-seaming service, ridding the Mini of its distinctive but primitive front and rear body seams and endowing it with an altogether smoother appearance. For those who really wanted their Mini to stand out from the crowd, Wood & Pickett came up with a Thirties-style treatment for the rear bodywork, whereby the side and rear windows were replaced with new metalwork, with a tinted oval rear window and the option of a variety of small opera windows at the side; this was then (usually) topped-off with a vinyl roof and the finishing touch of ornamental hood-irons.

A few of W&P’s bespoke conversions featured these neatly-integrated Mercedes-Benz headlight/indicator units, an expensive modifcation as it involved some reworking of the front wings. Arguably more successful than Radford’s similar conversion using rather more exclusive Facel units.

When the Mini Clubman was launched in 1969, that also came in for Wood & Pickett’s attention. Their first conversion (ALD 877H) look fairly standard from the outside, save for the Webasto sunroof, chrome wheel trims and tell-tale front quarterlight which was a feature of W&P’s electric window conversions. Most of the work was reserved for the interior, which featured a tasteful walnut-and-leather dashboard and substantial leather seats. Later Clubmans would feature a twin-headlight conversion, intially using modified Vauxhall Ventora units which later gave way to Wood & Pickett’s own grille design.

A typical Seventies Clubman conversion, featuring a Vauxhall Ventora-sourced headlamp arrangement which works remarkably well. The idea was later copied by St Albans-based firm Trevor James Car Conversions, who sought to offer WP-style conversions at a fraction of the cost.

The 1973 oil crisis provided a boost to Wood & Pickett’s Mini business, as drivers of luxury cars sought to down-size without giving up too many of the refinements to which they had become accustomed. The company continued to carry out work on Minis throughout the following decades, albeit on a smaller scale than in the heady days of the Sixties and Seventies. Notable customers included the now-disgraced Jeffrey Archer, who ordered a deep-red, de-seamed Mini in the late Eighties to use as his London runabout.

Under new ownership in the 1990s, the company’s emphasis shifted towards marketing a comprehensive range of accessories for the Mini, including the trademark Margrave dashboard, although they continued to accept commissions for complete conversions. 1994 saw the creation of what must be one of the most expensive Minis ever: the Crown Prince of Jahor ordered a Cooper-based conversion – complete with TV, karaoke system and fridge – for which the final bill came to around £50,000…

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

6 Comments on "Wood & Pickett Minis"

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  1. MM says:

    Not quite my style, “Wagon Queen Family Truckster”

  2. Chris Baglin says:

    A TV, karaoke system, and a fridge?

    Not exactly a lot of room in a Mini to have a party in…

  3. simon_hodgetts says:

    ‘Orrible, quite simply.

  4. Paul S says:

    How to wind up Issy….

  5. Paul S says:

    If you want a 4-lamp Mini Clubman, find an Allegro grill. It bolts straight in. No need for custom-made or modified parts.

  6. Nate says:

    Would the Clubman-based Wood & Pickett have been better off featuring an Austin X6-sourced headlamp arrangement (or even an Austin Allegro-sourced headlamp arrangement as mentioned above) instead of one sourced from the Vauxhall Ventora?

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