Minis are undoubtedly one of the big successes of BMC>ARG. Here we have a rather special one, painstakingly restored to original condition as it left the Authi-factory in Spain. This was much more involved than the owner and restorer, Matthias Boller, thought it would be when he started. Due to his determination we are able to see how an Spanish-built Mini would have looked in 1971.
Words: Alexander Boucke Photography: Alexander Boucke and Matthias Boller
Well, as AROnline’s Deputy Editor, I have an admission to make: because you see so many of them, I largely ignore Minis at shows. However, I had already noticed that there was something special about this one from across the hall – it had a GT badge on the classic nose. Wouldn’t that be…? Yes, it was – a Spanish-built Authi 1275 GT from 1971, basically the equivalent to the UK Mini Clubman 1275GT. I remember seeing these on holiday in Spain more than two decades ago, even though various ADO16 derivatives seemed to be much more common during the second half of the 1980s.
So there I stood in front of the stand, still marvelling at my luck in being able inspect this Authi at close quarters, when someone from the stand came over to ask me if I knew what I was looking (well, staring) at. Well, of course, I did! Next, I got introduced to Matthias, the owner of the Mini, who luckily was on duty that afternoon and had some time to tell me about his Mini.
Sadly, as the car was on a show stand at the Techno Classica, we were unable to go for a drive. That would have been fun as this Mini not only has the punchy 1275cc engine, but also Hydrolastic suspension – at a time when UK Minis with the round nose were all being built with dry rubber cone suspension again. Anyone who has never driven in a Hydrolastic Mini – find one and try it. It is simply amazing how much the interconnection transforms the ride quality. The engine in the 1275GT is in the same state of tune as in the Austin 1300 and Mini Clubman 1275GT, and so not a high performance Cooper unit, but one which still creates a very nippy and lively car.
Matthias bought this Mini in 2011 as a partially-finished restoration job. The bodywork had been mostly finished, but there still was the puzzle of how to get it all back together again. Matthias also had a particular aim which made that task more challenging at times: he wanted to use only parts originating from Spain, as fitted to the car when it left the factory. Unlike Innocenti, who got their engines shipped over from the Midlands, Authi used their own foundry. Instead of MOWOG, the stamps on all the engine and gearbox parts read NMQ-BMC. However, even those less interested in diving under the bonnet will find plenty of differences to the UK Minis of the time – such as, for example, the very supportive and comfortable seats, built to the pattern of those featured in the Innocenti Cooper 1300 of the time. With the steering wheel with a proper wooden rim the whole cabin looks very well finished and inviting.
In the end, it took Matthias nearly four years to complete the car. It took him so long, because he did not want to put any parts from UK-made Minis onto the Authi. He discovered that every part, right down to small plastic trim clips, carried different markings to the UK equivalents. The hunt for original spares was the real struggle during all these years. Keeping all the original bits was a priority though, creating a true matching numbers classic.
If you really want it, this Mini may be up for sale – isn’t that tempting?