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If you are buying classic Mini for the first time, it's important that you do your research first. You will need to decide which Mini is right for you, how much you are prepared to pay, the physical condition of the Mini you wish to own and what you want from your Mini.

"Classic Mini" in this context means a Mini based on the original BMC Minis built between 1959 and 2000. (The BMW parent company’s MINI models are known as the “Modern MINI” in this context. And although a Moke is clearly a derivative of the BMC Mini, we're not covering that type in this guide.

The types of classic Minis you are likely to find for sale in Australia are:

  • Morris 850

  • Morris Cooper

  • Morris Mini Minor

  • Morris Mini Traveller

  • Morris Mini Van

  • Morris Mini Deluxe

  • Morris Cooper S

  • Morris Mini 1100

  • Morris Mini K

  • Leyland Mini

  • Leyland Mini Clubman

  • Leyland Clubman GT

  • Leyland Mini Van

  • Mini

  • Rover Mini

This is not an exhaustive list of the different types and brands of Minis; there are literally scores more! The list represents the types you will most likely encounter when looking for a Mini to buy.

Most classic Minis that you will encounter are Australian-made vehicles. Some 200,000 Minis were manufactured in Sydney from 1961 to 1978, with Moke production continuing till 1981. Plenty of UK-built Minis (and even some Minis made in other countries such as South Africa) were imported into Australia over the last 50 years, so you're also likely to encounter some of these.

 

How Much Should I Pay?

If you are planning to restore a sad and sorry old Mini, you will probably pay at least $500 for the shell. Don’t be surprised if it costs you $20,000 or even more to restore it to better-than-new condition, but those who have gone down this path before will tell you it’s money well spent. The starting point for these restorations is often described as a "project car".

 

If you want a roadworthy Mini of any sort, you will probably need to pay at least $5,000. The cheapest Minis are usually the newest Australian-built cars, which are the square-nosed Leyland Mini Clubmans. In general, the older the car, the more you have to pay.

 

But then there are the Coopers. The Cooper versions of the Mini, particularly the 1275 cc Cooper S, were the giant-killing motorsport powerhouses of the 1960s. Not only were Mini Coopers winning track races such as Bathurst (first nine places in the 1967 race!), they were also winning rallies on dirt, snow and bitumen! In almost every form of motorsport other than open -wheeler races, Mini Coopers were at the front of the pack. This legendary status means a Cooper S costs roughly $10,000 more than a standard Mini. Some restorers choose to convert their standard Mini project cars into Cooper replicas, so you need to take care to ensure you know whether you're buying a replica or the real McCoy.

 

It's also important to know that the price of classic Minis tends to vary according to the individual Mini. If a Mini has an interesting history, or has been owned by someone famous, or has been raced at a famous event, it will command a higher price than a more anonymous car. As an example, an English Mini Cooper that won the 1965 RAC Rally sold at auction in the UK in 2007 for $200,000.

 

Preparing to Buy

Don’t rush! Take your time and do plenty of research first. Work out your budget. Join the Victorian Mini Club (or the equivalent club in your own state), and talk to members who already have Minis. Start reading The BMC Experience (Australia’s Mini and BMC car magazine) to build up your knowledge. Join an online Mini enthusiast community, such as Ausmini, or the Victorian Mini Club Facebook page, and ask any questions you may have.

 

After your research, you will be in a position to work out which type of Mini you want to buy.

One useful approach is to write down a list of features you want. Disc brakes? Sliding windows? Big engine? Originality? Highly modified? Sound systems? Air bag? Air conditioning? Then, map those features to the type of Minis. The Mini Automotive Website (http://www.miniauto.com.au/minihistory.htm) has a summary of the features of all Australian-built Minis.

Here's a quick set of pointers.

  • The only Australian Minis that came with disc brakes are Cooper, Cooper S and Clubman GTs. (Many of these cars also came with twin fuel tanks.)

  • Early Minis (Morris 850s) had an 850cc engine. Mini Deluxes had a 998cc engine. Mini Ks had an 1100cc engine. Cooper S, Clubman GT, and Clubman 1275LS models had a 1275cc engine.

  • Most post-1980 imported Minis have disc brakes. Post-1996 Rover Minis have power-assisted disc brakes, air conditioning, a driver's air bag.

  • Mini Vans, being considered commercial vehicles, always had the lowest standard of equipment.

 

However, it is very common for a Mini to be upgraded over its life. You might come across a 1962 Morris 850 with a 1310cc engine and disc brakes. Or a 1967 Mini Deluxe with a Honda engine. Or a 1975 Clubman S with supercharged 1100cc engine.

 

Where to Buy your Classic Mini

There are still hundreds if not thousands of Minis on the roads and in the garages of Australia. The number of Minis on the roads is probably increasing, as neglected shells and wrecks are bought by enthusiasts and restored to their former glory. The scores of second-hand late model classic Minis imported from Japan add to that number.

You can find Minis for sale at:

  • carsales.com.au

  • drive.com.au

  • eBay

  • Gumtree

  • Classified ads in Mini Club magazines

  • Shannons Classic Car Auctions

  • Unique Cars Magazine

  • Just Cars Magazine

  • Ausmini forum (www.ausmini.com)

 

Identification

Make sure that you are buying what you are supposed to be buying. Check the vehicle identification numbers (see Identifying a Classic Mini) on the compliance plate, block and body. There are also model specific features you should look for to make sure the car matches the badge it has.

 

Private Imports

There are a number of modifications required for Australian Design Rules for an imported car to be registered in Australia so make sure you know what the car you are importing will require. The modifications will have to be carried out an appropriate premises to be ADR complied.

Information on importing cars is available from:

  • The Australian Customs website

  • VicRoads Web Site

 

Car Inspection Checklist

  • Body condition

  • Paint condition

  • Amount of rust (how bad is it, and how much work is required to fix it)

  • Matching numbers (does the engine number and the chassis number match the maker’s plate)

  • Engine condition

  • Brake condition

  • Interior condition

  • Provenance (who owned it previously, documentation, history)

 

Parts and Maintenance

Over 5 million Minis were produced worldwide, so parts and expertise are plentiful. There are specialist Mini mechanics in every state in Australia. Use a Mini mechanic who advertises in your Mini Club magazine, or otherwise contributes to the Mini community.

 

References:

http://reviews.ebay.com.au/Classic-Mini-apos-s-A-buying-guide_W0QQugidZ10000000001043101

http://www.germancarforum.com/mini-lounge/12651-worlds-most-expensive-original-mini.html

http://www.classiccarlife.com/encyclopedia/Buying_Advice:_Austin_Mini

http://www.uniquecarsmag.com.au/news-and-reviews/article/articleid/68250.aspx

Silly's DIY Guide (for modding your mini): http://www.niksula.cs.hut.fi/~mdobruck/siililand/mini/diy/index.html

BUYING A CLASSIC MINI