MINI has completed the full restoration of a 1959 Austin Seven at the company’s soon-to-be-opened assembly plant, VDL NEDcar, in the Netherlands. It’s here that MINIs will roll off the line in 2014 – the second time in the company’s history. The 1959 Austin Seven, which is one of the first of the line was built in Holland, is now up and running and MINI’s decision to restore it is a case of squaring the circle – allowing the company to mark its heritage in the country.
The 1959 Austin Seven in question has a special history: it has chassis number 983, making it is one of just 30 cars built in the first year of Dutch production by Car Companies, a firm that assembled left-hand drive Minis for the local market using components sourced from the UK. VDL NEDcar employees undertook the restoration of one of the first Dutch Minis, which is also one of the oldest Minis in the world. It was assembled in 1959 at Molenaar’s Car Factory in Amersfoort, Holland and was completely rebuilt by a team of five. Minis were produced in the Netherlands from its year of introduction until 1966 – during that period the importer JJ Molenaar’s Car Companies in Amersfoort assembled over 4000 Minis. The full story of Amersfoort can be read elsewhere.
The job of restoring the Mini was particularly challenging because it spent over a quarter of a century abandoned in a damp barn, but MINI took on the project because the car was remarkably original and complete in spite of its advance state of decomposition. During the six-month restoration, the shell was stripped down to the bare metal and rebuilt it using as many original parts as possible. The engine and gearbox were fully rebuilt, the interior was given a thorough makeover and the body was treated to a full – and much needed – overhaul that included fitting new floors and a new rear apron. The finishing touch was a fresh coat of Farina Grey, the car’s original colour.
The car will no undoubtedly take centre stage when the NEDcar plant re-opens to production next year – and we hope that MINI won’t then squirrel it away, but let as many people as possible see this appealing 1959 original with a fascinating history.