At some point this year you might well become a little bit bored with the whole ‘Mini is 60 years old’ thing. I intend to add to that misery with a silly little book to cash in on the anniversary, as I’m sure BMW will do. With all this in mind, let’s see if it’s possible to buy the nation’s favourite small car at a half-reasonable price this year.
It certainly has been possible to buy affordable Minis in the past few years, but as you might know, the chances of rust are considerable. You will be able to get just about every part, which is a bonus, but the key is to understand that you must buy a Mini with your eyes wide open.
So let’s open them and find something. Well, £800 for a Mini Clubman estate is something of a result. Except that there was no engine, seats or trim and just half a floorpan. A project, then, and you would need to save up for the important bits. That’s the problem wading around the cheapy classifieds. More of a complete project was a 74,000-mile 1990 Checkmate at £1895. For that you’d get Cooper bonnet stripes, but there was visible rust in the pictures. It looked solid, but then they all do.
If you want an MOT then up your budget to £3500 and you will find a 1990s something or other. An unidentified 1991 998cc example with an MOT, and, rather interestingly, a Mayfair automatic, which is pretty rare these days. They are noisy, but not as bad as you might think. A ’91 Cooper was relatively nearby at £4250. Parked in a back garden, it had an MOT and also the paperwork which said it had been a Cat C write off, but all was since present, correct and properly repaired. Found a better one at £5750, but at this time of year I’d bid down to £5000.
The thing is, the later Minis are just as rusty as the old ones. Take a 1966 Morris Mk1 at £5995. It did need work but was at least complete. Add £10k for a restored example or instead try shopping abroad. A 1980 Clubman estate in yellow was £5995 and advertised as a left-hooker, but the pictures said RHD. Actually it was an ex-Brit car and it did contain plenty of patina.