Around the World : South African Minis

South Africa produced the Mini in an interesting variety of body combinations not seen elsewhere…

These included the Wolseley 1000, the Mini K and a strange Mini MK3 – a cross between a Riley Elf and standard Mini.


Wolseley 1000

The Wolseley 1000 was South Africa’s first mix-and-match Mini, mating the glitzy Wolseley front end – complete with the obligatory illuminated grille badge – to the standard Mini bodyshell. Well, almost standard – as can be seen in the above brochure image, the door featured ADO16-like opening quarterlights and wind-down windows, thanks to engineering input from BMC Australia.

As the name implies, the Wolseley 1000 was powered by the 998cc version of the familiar A-Series engine, and it also benefitted from Hydrolastic suspension. Inside, the dashboard featured extra padding and a centrally-mounted three-dial instrument pod, housing a speedometer flanked by gauges for water temperature and oil pressure, plus a small group of warning lights.

Sales began in September 1967, with a Mk2 version appearing in December 1968, featuring refinements similar to those introduced on the UK’s Mk2 Minis. However, in the latter half of 1969, Leyland South Africa (or Leykor) implemented a product rationalisation programme which mirrored what was happening within the recently-formed BLMC back in the UK.

As a result of this, the Wolseley 1000 was axed in August of that year, along with the locally-produced Cooper S. It is thought that only around 450 Wolseley 1000s were built in total.


Other Minis

The so-called Mini MK3 appeared in September 1969, effectively replacing the Wolseley 1000. In styling terms, it seems that the thinking behind the earlier car was simply reversed to produce a booted version of the standard-fronted Mini.

Presumably the intention was to combine a more modern appearance with greater luggage capacity, but whatever the reason, the resulting car can’t help but look decidedly odd to anyone familiar only with the standard European versions of the car. During the 1970s, Leykor (later Leyland South Africa) also produced standard-bodied Minis with either the rounded Mk3-style or the square-set Clubman front ends.

The South-African answer to the Clubman-style 1275GT was known as the Mini GTS, which was boldly announced by its bodyside graphics.
The South-African answer to the Clubman-style 1275GT was known as the Mini GTS, which was boldly announced by its bodyside graphics
1980 saw the Mini's final fling in South Africa, with the launch of the Clubman-style 1275E, featuring a 56bhp version of the 1275cc A-series engine, 10-inch steel wheels and drum brakes all round. The 1275E, as pictured above, could easily be identified by it broad twin side-stripes.
1980 saw the Mini’s final fling in South Africa, with the launch of the Clubman-style 1275E, featuring a 56bhp version of the 1275cc A-Series engine, 10-inch steel wheels and drum brakes all round. The 1275E, as pictured above, could easily be identified by it broad twin side-stripes
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14 Comments

  1. Does anyone have info on the 1976/1977 mini hatchback proposal from the Blackheath Styling Department in Mini: The Definitive History?

  2. Hi Keith,
    Did South Africa make or import the original body Mini, or were they all hybrids of other [later] Mini bodies? I also have seen 2 published sources saying that the early adoption of windup windows in Oz, led Australia to export their wind-up window doors to SA long before supply was be obtained over seas. True or false?

    I ask because I am writing about racing classic Mini under strict FIA regs today– & racers need a series one [1959-67] outline…

    Thanks for you time, JW

  3. One of the books on the history of the Mini has a picture of a mock up with a Clubman front with the Hornet tail.

  4. I am trying to trace the history of my Morris Mini Minor MK1, M/A2S4, Number 138879.
    The car was assembled by Morris Motors SA (PTY) Ltd in Blackheath, South Africa, Body Number: 2402, Engine number: 8AM U H400398. I am the process of restoring the car to original and would like to know what the colour should be. The interior panels look original and are Cream and Red

  5. Did the radiator grille badge on the Wolseley 1000 have – as on ‘real’ Wolseleys – a light bulb to illuminate it from inside? I recall, as a 1940s child, being amused by this simple bit of instant brand identification – at night time; “Hey Dad/Mum. That’s a Wolseley.” “Clever boy!” Occasionally one sees a police Wolseley at night in old black and white crime films.

  6. I never noticed before, but now I found something odd on my 67 Cooper “S”. The body-plate has the Afrikaans word spelled in English. “BMC SUID AFRICA” instead of AFRIKA. Who made these? The plate is also slightly bigger than the English plate. Is this correct or not.?

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