Car of the Month : November 2005

What happens when you cross a Mini with a Cortina Mk2? Well, you get a Mini Clubman, of course… some say that the larger front was put there to house a front mounted radiator fan, but the more likely reason is to balance out the elongated rear that was also penned for the car…

Now owned by Justin Blythe, from Norwich, this particular Mini finished in this particular colour shows that the fifties classic can strut in a Seventies stylee with the best of them…

THIS is an example of Britain’s most numerically successful car; but it is more than that. It is redolent of the automotive fashion of the era in which it was built – the early Seventies. As the Sixties ended and the Seventies began, ‘Leylandised’ versions of existing BMC designs began to appear. The Mini Clubman was a great example of the breed, and the top of that range was the sometimes-lambasted 1275GT.

However, around here, we like the 1275GT – finding it a curious hangover of a very brave experiment. The Roy Haynes restlye of the Mini was essentially a Ford Cortina 1600E in miniature, making it a real clash of ideals. It came complete with 10-inch Rostyle wheels, and a Cortina-esque steering wheel and radiator grille. And in addition to this were the go-faster stripes. If that didn’t make your mouth water back then you were obviously a Mini traditionalist… For the rest of us, it was a case of, ‘hello baby…’

The other ‘Leylandised’ BMC cars were far more modest. The ADO16 1300GT had to make do with just a vinyl roof and wheel trims, and it was the same with the 1800S. The emboldening of the BL range wasn’t limited to the Austin-Morris range though – take a look at the revised Rover P6 and MGB to see examples of a brasher, louder, and ultimately more gaudy family look. Again though – we love it…

Now owned by Justin Blythe of Norwich, KGP 779K left Longbridge in 1971, and much of this car’s fantastic overall condition (concours, at least) is down to a combination of the current and previous owners’ fastidious approach to looking after their car. The previous owner restored the 1275GT, but also thought to sympathetically add a bit extra; recreating the BL Special Tuning kit that was available for the model back in 1971, for the not-unreasonable sum of £125. This kit gave the 1275GT similar performance to the recently discontinued Mini Cooper 1275S.

In fact, a delve into the car magazines of 1971 reveals that the only diffence in price between a 1275S and an Special Tuning 1275GT was the BL dealers’ fitting charge for the ST kit… And the 1275GT was better equipped – and came with that three instrument dashboard binnacle, which became a Mini mainstay from pretty much that moment on.

Justin’s car also features other non-standard parts such as the driver’s seat of unknown origin and an impressive Webasto sunroof – there was no cheap and nasty plastic there.

So, oggle over this throwback to 1971; an era of hotpants, the start of Glam Rock, when the late Edward Heath was Prime Minister… and most people still had monochrome television sets.

Justin and son are proud to be pictured at this year’s BMC/BL Rally at Peterborough…

Love the stripes, Love the twin fillers…

Yup – a leak-free A-Series… this 1275 is in truly amazing condition…


Keith Adams

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