Blog : IMM – where Minis, people and nations come together

Keith Adams

International Mini Meet - where you'd swear British Leyland was still a going concerned, frequented by a huge and adoring customer base.
International Mini Meet 2013 – where you’d swear British Leyland was still a going concerned, frequented by a huge and adoring customer base.

I’m currently enjoying a bit of a break from work. It’s been an interesting few months, writing and launching Honest John Classics, running AROnline and working on That’s why I reckoned that, for a birthday treat to myself, I deserved something of a screen break. Being (the partner of) a very satisfied MINI First owner, I decided that the International Mini Meet 2013 was a great event to visit – helped not only by the fact that all the best Minis and their owners visit the IMM, but also that for 2013, it’s being held at the Mugello racing circuit, in the heart of Tuscany, Italy.

I was going to drive down in my (partner’s) MINI First, but when she made loud grumbling noises reminiscent of the rear differential of my Lancia Integrale, I went with Plan B, borrowing a Clubvan (AKA ‘Britain’s fastest van’) from MINI UK, and hacking down in that instead. I went in convoy with my good friend Dave Smart (see his blogs, entitled Dave’s Marvellous Mini of Doom) through Switzerland and Italy (and you can read all about that later), and had an absolutely brilliant time in the process.

I have to say, I absolutely love that little van – even if I’m the first to accept that it’s not going to be the first choice of commercial vehicle for those looking to carry large loads on a Europallet. Think of it as the ideal cupcake or croissant delivery vehicle and you’ll get the idea.

We've even dressed up the MINI Clubvan with a nice little logo for IMM2013.
We’ve even dressed up the MINI Clubvan with a nice little logo for IMM2013.

Of course, for this trip, the event’s the star, and I have to say that as a fan of Issigonis’ ‘wizardry on wheels’, the IMM2013 has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of.

For those who haven’t been to IMM before, and who do have a love – or even curiosity – about Minis, it’s well worth a trip. In 2014, the event takes place in Kent, so you won’t have to go quite as far as I have this year, but you might not find that you enjoy the drive quite as much fun. When I rolled into Scapreria, near Florence, the village that Mugello backs on to, the place was literally over-run by BMC’s little blighters. They were everywhere, their owners hooting noisily and flashing their spotlights at each other – it’s hard not to be overcome by such infectious enthusiasm.

And once into the circuit’s surrounding grounds, the sheer number of Minis (around 2000) that have attended don’t actually overwhelm; no it’s the variety of the cars – from the maddest tuned R56 John Cooper Works cars, to the most standard and well-preserved 850s – and where they’ve come from. For a geeky numberplate spotter like me, seeing ‘plates from Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania (the host of IMM in 2015), France, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Malta and a host of other countries is a sheer joy. Then there’s the cars – most are gorgeous, some are just wacky, and a few are battered, bruised and bear the scars of active and happy lives.

IMM2013- Innocenti 90

The stars for me – of course – were the Innocentis. I absolutely adore the Bertone-styled Mini 90/120, and to see a selection at the show – first hand – has been a genuine pleasure. There were many of the facelifted Daihatsu-powered examples but, in among them was a delectable A-Series powered Mini 90 (above) and a Cooper S powered De Tomaso. I wanted both. But seeing so many Innocentis, so lovingly looked after, sporting more appealing details, and weird names like Mini-Minor, Minimatic, or 1001, than their British cousins was lovely. I believe there’s about half a dozen of the things back at home – at IMM, I must have seen more than 50.

However, what really makes IMM so special is the sheer unbridled enthusiasm of everyone there. Yes, it rained during the event, the toilet facilities were medieval and plenty of people were camping in a quagmire, but they were all smiling, cheery and having a great time. On the day I left, Evo’s Editorial Director, Harry Metcalfe (a massive, massive car nut), said to me that going to Mugello must have seemed like a huge journey in a classic Mini – to which I responded that the owners are a hardy bunch. I’d now add sociable, too – and, here, I have seen this first hand.

That’s because everyone is so accepting. The Mini scene is young and vibrant. It’s a multi-faceted community united by its love of the cars. It doesn’t matter how good, bad, or ugly your Mini is, it’s as celebrated as the next car. The post-2001 MINI’s presence is getting stronger and, from my first-hand experience, they’re now very much part of the scene (very ably supported by its parent company), even if the real stars of the show were ten-feet and a quarter inches long and were designed by Alec Issigonis.

I can’t wait for the next one – and stay tuned for galleries of the most interesting cars from the event, both here and on Honest John Classics.

Keith Adams


  1. That red Innocenti looks like the hire car that my colleague and I used in Tunisia in 1977, to drive from Tunis to a town called Sfax, in order to carry out some offshore work. It managed to carry our luggage and a small amount of kit there and back, without incident. Interesting times.

  2. Beats me why BL never saw the potential of the Bertones work on the Mini 90/120 – not just for the Mini, but scaled up as an Allegro alternative. That really would have given the Golf a run for its money. Given Bertone was styling the 90/120 at the same time Harris Manns car was morphing into a blob on wheels its unbelievable that nobody thought hang on a minute..

  3. @3 – You could also argue why did BL not entrust all styling to Pininfarina or Michelotti?


  5. The Innocenti could’ve been a Metro before the Metro.

    Though the R50 story suggests that they found it “Too costly to build at Longbridge.”

    A range of cars would’ve been great, a larger Allegro-size Golf beater through to D segment hatch/saloon that would’ve looked contemporary when the Maxi was seen as a bit frumpy.

  6. @7 MM

    I think they may have had a slightly shorter wheelbase compared to the original Mini, though LWB (utilising the Estate floorpan) and 5-door prototypes were looked into.

  7. @7
    “Accommodation-wise, what you gain on the roundabout compared to the normal Mini you lose on the swings. What you gain is a lifting tailgate providing access to a boot slightly larger than normal, and the facility to tip the rear seat forward to obtain a flat and usefully shaped cargo deck. What you lose is some legroom, not because the interior is any shorter than the British car’s, but as a consequence of valuable fractions of inches stolen by the more plushly upholstered front seats. On the other hand, said seats really are quit comfy, and help you make the most of the strange driving position forced on you by the curiously angled steering wheel”
    More details here:

  8. It sounds like a fantastic event and I’m so jelous I didn’t go. I’m glad you like the “Clubvan” as we’ve just ordered one for my wife’s cafebar vinotec company here in Madrid!
    We got a great PX on the three year old Clubman.
    Keep up the great articles.

  9. I haven’t seen one of those Innocenti Minis in years – it’s very reminiscent of one of the later versions of the Fiat 127, particularly the design of the wheels. And I agree with Will M’s comment re this car and the Metro – it would have pre-dated the Fiesta and Polo too, wouldn’t it?

  10. Good day from Italy, everybody. Just to clarify.Mr. Will M: having owned both Metro and Mini 90 can witness Metro was far more confortable than Mini 90; also Metro’s inner layout was far more modern. Anyway the modified supension (coupled to 3-cylinders engine) was a great leap forward and last version of innocenti named “small” born in 1990 (in its top-of-the range version) had some items (leather interior, wood inlays in the dash) reminding of Vanden Plas Metro… but it was never built in a 5-doors shape! So I would not say “metro before metro…” Metro was really needed… as a five-gears box, anyway!!

  11. @13 Domenico

    Good points raised.
    My mum had a Mini and I drove a friend’s 114GTa a few years ago.

    The Mini I remember being a bit underpowered and go-kart like – great for handling, a bit hairy next to HGVs.

    The 114GTa (assuming it shared the driving position with the Metro) did seem like driving any other car.

    As a stop gap measure though, it may have sufficed. And it could’ve been a lower market citycar, similar to Fiat’s original 500/600/Panda/90s Cinquecento, allowing the Metro to push up market.

  12. @ 14 Will M:

    In this case I would agree with you; on the other hand Panda had a long time before getting a favourite in italian public taste. It was known as the “skeleton car” in the early 80’s. Mini90 could have been also a Fiat 126 remarkable competitor – but the power and fuel consumption gap maybe too wide. Innocenti marketing choise was to sell it as top-of-the-range instead: the Mini 90/120 were launched and advertised as something “cool”, high-class-young-people oriented (especially in DeTomaso form) and – therefore – expensive! Average competitors such as Fiat 127 and Ford Fiesta were cheaper. Only in the end of the 80’s innocenti was re-positioned as a low-profile industry and relevant “Small” (same Mini bodyshell) and a brasilian-built “fiat Uno” (renamed “Mille” = “onethousand”) were sold at a real “discount” price.

  13. @ 14

    Its important remember that 1974 was a very different Super Mini market than in 1982 when the arrival of the 205 / UNO changed the market to favour of the 5 doors, which forced Austin Rover to add 2 doors to the Metro.

    We should also consider that the BL Innocenti reskin would have been a little more significant than the original. In particular it would have like the Metro replaced the then 5 year old Clubman Mini, so given that we had already had a Hydroelastic mini, it’s almost certain that to give it distance from the “old” mini it would have been given Hydragas.

    Certainly not as good as the Metro, but it would have meant that British Leyland would have had a Supermini hatchback with all that Mini brand value in the market ahead of Ford.

  14. Domenico

    It was not sold as a 5-door though from the line below it seems a stillborn 5-door prototype was looked into.

    Out of interest Domenico, do you have any information on the Moto Guzzi 650cc V-twin motorcycle-engined prototypes?

  15. @18

    That looks good.

    Just shows how far off the mark they were with the Allegro styling once it reached production.

  16. @18: thanks for the pic, new to me!! Also new to me understand a Guzzi enginereed prototype was created, thank-you!

    By the way should you get/need whatever italian documentation and need to sort and/or translate, pls write me at my address : I’ll be happy to help you (all).


    @16: Graham: early ’70s were indeed a styling and technical mess; talking about italian market hatchbacks were a rarity at that time, but 4 doors saloons and wagons with a 1000-1100 cc engine were not new stuff: patriot FIAT 128 was launched in 1969 (1100cc) while 5-doors FIAT 127 was about to be launched (1977). Don’t forget the french ladies Renault “4” and Citroen “2CV” were still selling strong their 4 doors! also pls note FIAT 127 was also sold as “Francis Lombardi Lucciola” as 1973 as a 5-door Fiat 127! (Not many left today and also in 1974 it was really rare)!I would say there was enough market for a modern 5-doors mini – which sadly was kept away from projects/market.

  17. I wonder if amongst the 2000 Minis there was a genuine Mini-Sprint as designed by Neville Tricket, originally sold be Stewart and Arden and later taken up by Rob Walker. Some may remember that it had a major chop and de-seaming but unlike ordinary chops, it was widened significantly too.
    CAR magazine tested one in the 60’s – think it might have been Steady Barker but could be wrong on that one – mags are in the loft – take too long to check tonight!
    We still have a seriously chopped mini that was used in the early 70’s with 1440 engine taking Triumph 2000 pistons. I think everything was lightened – lots of things had holes in – flywheel included. It was recording sub 7 seconds to 60 with a van diff and happily wore a set of wide tyres out in 2000 miles. I loved the extreme letter box view with a 10 inch high windscreen and the seat base bolted directly to the floor. Such thrills when one is a mere 23! Of course the reference to 2000 miles on a set of tyres was academic as the engine always blew up after 500 miles!

  18. Here are my pics of the cars.

    You might recognise one of the characters.

  19. @20 Domenico

    The Innocenti mini was done on pennies and think the 5 door which I guess is on a mini van platform would be too narrow too look good. But with proper investment with production the UK, a widened platform (something BMW did just for fun when they owned Rover), Hydragas and they would have had the equivalent of the Pug 104, short wheel base 3 door and longer 5 door.

    Sold as the Mini 3 and Mini 5 would have have made a perfect replacement for the bottom end of the ADO16. Allegro could thus have been made bigger with a 1300 and 1600 E series engine to take on the bottom of the Cortina range which the dead in water Maxi had failed to do and replaced the Marina which was going to have a limited shelf life. A 6 cylinder 2 and 2.4litre E series would have been pitched at the top end and bottom of Ford Granada.

    A plan and I am sure somebody may just have had the vision at the time, but of course they could never have made enough of them be they old mini and Allegro’s to meet demand anyway.

  20. @ 23 Graham

    I would have probably kept the Innocenti Mini as it is, included various bodystyles (e.g. 5-door, 3-door estate / van, SWB/LWB, etc) as well as more engines either sticking with the A-Series(1098cc, A-Plus/OHC, Turbo, lower-end 475-500cc A-Series 2-cylinder, A-Series Diesel) or going the E-Series/other-route (750-1000cc DX, 1114/1311cc E3, 1400-1600cc E-Series, E-Series diesel, Italian-market Guzzi 650cc V-Twin above the 475-500cc A 2-cylinder or as replacement) in order to broaden the range.

    Like you, I would have fitted with Hydragas suspension, albeit initially derived from Alex Moulton’s 1966 Mini Cooper S non-interconnected Hydragas-equipped prototype (with the alternate Metro receiving the Interconnected Hydragas).

    The Allegro would be a Golf-rival whereas the Innocenti Mini
    would face the 104/127 in the newly form Supermini class, the former retaining the sleeker styling (with the front being a quad-headlight cross of a Opel Kaddet C and a Reliant Scimitar SE5/SE8), being a hatchback from the outset and using the B-OHC (1.6-2.4) as a stopgap (until the alternate O-Series) in place of the E-Series.

    The Marina meanwhile would be based on a lengthened Triumph Dolomite platform in order to compete with the Cortina and be powered by (1.4-2.8) E-Series engines in place of the B-Series though the Princess would need a radical rethink in order to properly compete with the Granada.

    Granted, it is easier to look back with hindsight though that does not change the fact that BL were very short-sighted.

  21. Reading the Wikipedia entry for Innocenti, a successful operation second only to Fiat for domestic sales in Italy, bought out by BLMC in 1972 and British management installed.

    Sorry to be so cynical, but the operation was on the rocks, soon after buyout. British management to the fore again?

  22. I have attended a few IMM ‘s and have a great time!

    everyone very friendly and happy to share time with other mini fans

    i agree that the whole world seems to be there!

    Does anyone know if when the mini finished on 4th October that it was the same date as Sputnik was launched all be it 43 years later

    Is this just a coincidence as early prototype were nicknamed sputnik?

  23. @25

    The UK has fantastic engineering talent, yet it seems that the country cannot produce management.

    Why is this? Why do UK managed companies typically have short sighted managers?

  24. As a resident Aussie, and first time IMM visitor, it was certainly great to see the huge range of different variants and the great Innocenti range in particular. It is certainly interesting to muse on what could have been, I just say thanks for what we have left …. and I better get out to the shed and start fixing up another one !!!!! Roger

  25. The brown Innocenti 90 is mine. I went to IMM afer 500km (i live in the north-west of Italy,in Trieste) with that 1978 Inno. When in 1969 the Fiat group come out with the Autobianchi A112,the sell of the traditional Mini (Issigonis obviosy,built in Italy by Innocenti and after Leyland-innocenti) start to have some problems. The new hatchback body (but with the same mechanical of traditional Mini)come in 1974,styled by Bertone,with the third door,was thinkin’ for doin’ an alternate of Fiat-Autobianchi (the first car with that formula). In Italy,especially in the first years,the Mini Bertone was a cool and fashion car,and the Issigonis desing in late 70’s was considered outdated. Between 1978 and 1979 they sell 40.000 Innocenti Bertone. The British mechanical was replaced in 1982 with italian sospension (similar than Fiat 127 and Autobianchi A112) and japanese engine (the 993cc from Daihatsu Charade). The production continue since 30th March 1993. One of most successeful Daihatsu-InnoMini was Innocenti 500 LS,with 548cc (and after 659cc) of Daihatsu Leeza. The most desiderable was the DeTomaso Turbo (1983-1990),a sort of Italo-Jap MG Metro,the first italian subcompact with Turbo,built in only 6000 specimens,and the ’86 Innocenti 990 SE,a luxury supermini,with radica-wood insert,electric windows,and in some versions,alcantara or Missoni seats.

  26. Stefano, I loved your Inno Mini. I did speak to you at the show – and said so 🙂

    As far as I am concerned, it was the car of the show. A credit to you!

  27. Thanks to Keith and you all. Especially the site to pub the pic of my car. The story of Innocenti and its cars,the italian badge for Leyland for many many years,interest me very much. It’s an industrial story very strange and particoular. After the Leyland years,from 1976 on,the state of Italy help the factory to product away,with the new owner,the vulcanic (and sometimes crazy..) Alejandro DeTomaso. The Mini Bertone was at the time almost a new model (born in 1974) and DeTomaso,with the help of the state, sell it very well for all the rest of ’70s. The car was in competition with Autobianchi A112,Fiat 127,Peugeot 104,Citroen Visa,Renault 5,Opel Kadett City and also another mid-british,the beauty (for me) Chrysler/Talbot Sunbeam. The British engine A-Series was not cheap to buy,so DeTomaso in 1982 turn to Daihatsu power for the Mini Bertone,short after the Austin Metro arrives in Italy (1981). It’s funny because the Innocenti dealers was often the same of the Austin Rover,because a few year before they was Leyland Innocenti dealers. In 1982 when DeTomaso decided to product in the Innocenti factory the beauty (but weak..) Maserati Biturbo,the ex Leyland Innocenti dealers sell Innocenti,Maserati and Austin Rover group (..sometimes with Jaguar too..)!

  28. So in the 80’s Mini Bertone,called now Mini3 (for 3cylinders engine..) and Metro was rivals sell in the same place,like XJ6 and Maserati Biturbo. The InnoBertone with Daihatsu engine was more technological than the Metro,because they had 5speed gearbox in every version and balancing countershaft for the 993cc engine,but the Metro has got more space inside. The InnoBertone was the first car in Italy with electric windows (the luxury Mille,1980,still with british engine),the first with foglamps (the sporty Mini DeTomaso,1977,with 1275cc of Cooper S) and the first subcompact with air conditioned (the new 990SE,with restyled body 17cm longest,born in 1986)

  29. If the problem to sellin’ Metros well in Italy come after 1983,from the new Fiat Uno (the Metro was the future in comparison of the old Fiat 127..),especially after 1985,when the italian car has got the new revolutionary 999cc Fire engine,for selling well Innos the problem was the new Autobianchi-Lancia,the Y10. The restyled 990SE was a very good car,but the new Autobianchi became a fashion phenomenon after a couple of years of normal production. The last success of InnoBertone was the 1987 Innocenti 500,a sort of microcar,born mixin’ pieces of new 990 SE and old Mini3 body,with new 548cc(later 659cc) engine. The new rivals was outdated (Fiat 126,Citroen 2Cv..) end when a new generation of microcar went out,in the early 90s (Subaru M80,Suzuki Maruti,Fiat Cinquecento),the Inno,now called Small,sell decently for couple of years. In 1993 Fiat,the new owner of Innocenti,decide to stop the production of Mini Bertone,to sell awful reinterpretations of Fiat Uno and brazilian Duna called Innocenti Clip and Elba since 1997,when they closed Innocenti.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.