Prepare yourself for the spring classic car season... Here's a fun, entertaining and well-loved classic Mini.
At a glance:
- 1988 Austin Mini Designer
- Originally the 'Mary Quant' Designer limited edition, now cosmetically enhanced with Cooper styling.
- 998cc petrol engine with manual gearbox
- 92,137 miles
- Massively fun to drive
- MOT until 25th May 2021
- Will have a 12,000 mile service prior to sale
- Loads of upgrades
The iconic and unique Mini was produced from 1959 until 2000. The original is still considered an icon of 1960s British popular culture. Its space-saving transverse engine front wheel drive layout - allowing 80 percent of the area of the car's floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage - influenced a generation of car makers. In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century. This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis and manufactured at the Longbridge and Cowley plants in England. On its introduction in August 1959 the Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in January 1962 and Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. In 1980 it once again became the Austin Mini and in 1988, just "Mini".
The Mark IV was introduced in 1976, even though by this stage British Leyland was working on a new small car (the Mini-Metro) which was widely expected to replace the Mini, but it was ultimately never replaced due to its enduring popularity. The Mark IV had a front rubber mounted subframe with single tower bolts and the rear frame had some larger bushings introduced. Twin column stalks for indicators and wipers were introduced, as were larger foot pedals. From 1977 onwards, the rear light clusters included reversing lights. During the early 1980s the Mini received many mechanical upgrades, such as the A-Plus engine, 12-inch wheels with front disc brakes, improved soundproofing and quieter, stronger transmissions. The Mini's 25th anniversary fell in 1984 and British Leyland produced a 'Mini 25' limited model, both to mark the occasion and to publicise the recent upgrades to the model. Basic models such as the City and the City E (using the economy-tuned drivetrain from the Metro HLE) filled in the bottom of the Austin-Rover range and still found buyers who wanted a compact city car that was easy to park and cheap to run. Low purchase and running costs also made the Mini continually popular as a first car for younger drivers, and Austin-Rover introduced a steady stream of limited editions with bright paint colours, body graphics and trim to appeal to this market. The Mini was also becoming prized as a characterful and nostalgic car in its own right, and the 'London Collection' of limited edition models were more upmarket and luxurious and named after affluent or fashionable parts of London. These marketing strategies proved very successful - Mini production actually saw modest increases through the mid-1980s, from 34,974 in 1985 to 35,280 in 1985 and 39,800 in 1986. By 1990, with the reintroduction of the very popular Cooper model, Mini production would pass 40,000. In 1988 Austin Rover decided to keep the Mini in production for as long as it was viable to do so, eventually a staggering 5.3 million Minis were produced spanning the 41 years between 1959 and 2000. However, despite this massive production, there are a surprisingly limited number left on the road, and enthusiastic demand has seen prices of the better examples rise dramatically in recent years.
This particular 1988 Mini was originally a 'Designer' limited edition model with the interior styled by Mary Quant but has since been cosmetically enhanced in a Cooper style. Perhaps it's not for the purists, but like so many other classic Minis it has been improved over the years. Very few Minis are now in the same specification as when they left the factory, having benefitted from the huge trend for both cosmetic and performance upgrades. As a result, classic Minis are becoming more like snowflakes - no two are the same! This car could easily be returned to the original Designer edition by reinstating the side decals, front seats and original flat faced alloy wheels, if that's your preference. However, it looks arguably better in this specification, as the original 'designer' version was actually rather drab looking with black trim instead of chrome for the wheel arches, grille, bonnet and headlight surrounds, flat Austin Rover wheels that look like they fell off a Maestro, etc... This particular car has been treated to a host of upgrades and improvements such as:
A thorough restoration by the previous owner
Mini Light Alloy Wheels with nearly new tyres
Cooper bonnet stripes, side stripes and badges
Chrome Trim, much of it new.
Fletcher Stainless steel steel twin pipe exhaust (wonderfully noisy!)
New Red carpets throughout.
Front bucket seats
Pioneer large screen DVD CD USB Bluetooth stereo, & amp in boot. Sounds amazing!
Cobra alarm immobiliser, and much more...
The original specification was:
Mini Designer - Year: 1988 (June)
Based on: Mini City
Engine: 998 cc
White (NMF - BLVC449) Black (PMA - BLVC90)
Decals/badges: Twin coachlines and "Designer" logos on the rear side panels and bootlid
Black and white striped fabric with ‘Mary Quant’ signatures embossed.
Equipment: Tinted glass, opening rear side windows, leather-rim steering wheel
The Mini Designer was often called the "Quant" in reference to the Mary Quant-designed interior and Quant Daisy motifs on the steering wheel and bonnet badge.
Apparently there were only 1,000 black versions and 1,000 white versions, of which only 111 are still taxed and in use on UK roads in the third quarter of 2018.
This car has covered 92,137 miles - an average of roughly 3,000 miles per year over its 31 year life.
On the Road:
These classic Minis are like nothing else on the road. They have immense charm and character, and a fabulous 'go-kart' feel to their classic, minimal design, both inside and out. The Mini starts first turn of the key, with just a hint of choke, the 998cc petrol engine offers a lively responsiveness. It surges eagerly under acceleration, starts, stops and does what it should. This particular Mini drives exceptionally well in comparison to most of this age, no doubt due to the huge investment over the years. The ride quality is 'unique' in any Mini, so expect an entertaining ride and an engaging driving experience without being reliant on modern tech such as power steering, electric windows, cruise control, heated seats or anything else to go wrong. Despite the basic quality of the design, these Minis are an absolute hoot to drive, and although the exterior appears very compact, the innovative designs means drivers of any size will fit. I'm 6'5" and fit comfortably with plenty of head room. It's not like a Jaguar or Mercedes-Benz for refinement, but it's unashamedly an entertaining Mini adventure, and they are hugely popular due to their iconic charm.
Austin's 4 cylinder inline petrol engine, the A series, is one of the most common in the world. Launched in 1951, production lasted until 2000 in the Mini. It used a cast-iron block and cylinder head, and a steel crankshaft with 3 main bearings. The camshaft ran in the cylinder block, driven by a single-row chain for most applications, and with tappets sliding in the block, accessible through pressed steel side covers for most applications, and with overhead valves operated through rockers. The cylinder head for the overhead-valve version of the A-series engine was designed by Harry Weslake – a cylinder head specialist famed for his involvement in SS (Jaguar) engines and several F1-title winning engines.
British Leyland decided n to update the A-series design in the 1970s, at a cost of £30 million. The result was the 'A-Plus' Series of engines. Available in 998cc and 1275cc, the A-Plus had stronger engine blocks and cranks, lighter pistons and improved piston rings, Spring loaded tensioner units for the timing chain and other detail changes to increase the service interval of the engine. More modern SU carburettors and revised manifold designs allowed improvements in power without any decrease in torque or fuel economy. Many of the improvements learnt from the Cooper-tuned units were also incorporated, with A-Plus engines having a generally higher standard of metallurgy on all units, where previously only the highest-tuned engines were upgraded in this way. This made the A-Plus engines in 1980-1992 Minis generally longer-lived than the standard A series as found in previous versions.
Sold with MOT until 25th May 2021. Only two advisories (for slight play in ball joints) and importantly: zero advisories for any underbody corrosion.
As you can probably see from the pictures, this Mini is very handsome indeed, having undergone significant restoration in the past. It's really in lovely condition, very clean and shiny - an inevitable few marks here and there, but nothing which detracts from looking great. It's not in concours condition, as you would expect at this price point, and comes with a little 'patina' as all classic cars tend to do - but it is very respectable nonetheless. It’s always difficult to express in words the condition of any classic Mini, and most people have differing opinions about condition, so the best way to get a true impression will be to view this lovely car in person. I’m confident that anybody with realistic expectations will be delighted to own and enjoy this wonderfully iconic classic car.
The general value range for these legendary Minis in good condition and specification is normally £4,000 - £8,000 with immaculate examples priced considerably higher. This car is offered to sell swiftly at a very tempting £6950.
I can't quite explain it, but this Mini really ticks the boxes for me. Perhaps it appeals to the inner 'small child' part of my brain? Perhaps childhood memories of being a rear passenger in an elderly brown Mini have stayed with me? This Mini also appeals to my 'grown up' brain as it looks like outstanding value, as there could be well over £4,000 worth of restoration and improvements carried out, and it would probably cost this much extra to buy a restoration project and do it yourself. This is a hugely entertaining classic, capable of achieving in excess of 100 smiles per hour.