A fun, entertaining and well-loved classic Mini with a huge amount of investment in the past.
At a glance:
- 1989 Mini in original 'Electric Blue' with limited edition 'Italian Job' interior
- Originally the 'Mayfair' limited edition, now cosmetically enhanced with retro styling.
- 1275cc petrol engine with SU carb and four speed manual gearbox
- Massively fun to drive
- MOT until 15th October 2020
- Lots of restoration work and upgrades in the past.
** Please scroll down for more hi-res images **
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 1989 Mini was a London Collection 'Mayfair' limited edition but, as is often the case with classics Minis, it has benefitted from a programme of restoration, improvement and upgrades, resulting in the unique car you see today. Very few Minis are now in the same specification as when they left the factory, having benefitted from the huge trend for readily available and sensibly priced upgrades. As a result, classic Minis are becoming more like snowflakes - no two are the same!
The notable recent history includes:
In 2015 the car was sold by Ross at Thomas Classic & Modern (a mini restoration specialist) and as part of the sale it was treated to the following:
Resprayed in the original 'Electric Blue'
Opening rear windows installed
New windscreen seals and chrome inserts
New chrome mirrors and plinths
Colour coded wheel arches
Chrome grille and surround
New Chrome door handles
Chrome wipers and washer jets
Chrome numberplate lamp
Silver mini-lite wheels
Winged front and rear bonnet badges, colour coded in blue
Dash conversion to retro centre 3 binnacle style
Installation of CD radio, rear parcel shelf speakers and centre console
New chrome bumpers
New Battery and earth straps
Replacement starter motor
New 70A alternator
New rear heated window
New door rubbers
Replacement roof lining
Replacement 'Italian Job' limited edition seats front and rear
Carpet rear pockets
Fit weather shield behind grille
Wire in 12v accessory socket and switch panel
Replace handbrake lever
Fit rear numberplate chrome surround
Fit chrome fresh air vents
New pedal rubbers
2 front high/low adjustable suspension units
2 rear high/low adjustable suspension units
2 front knuckle joints
2 rear knuckle joints
2 front bump stop rubbers
Alloy rocker box & gasket
Fit 4 front spotlights, bracket, wiring and switch
4 front subframe mounts
Gearchange oil seal
1 boot badge
Install battery cut off switch
Repair rear brakes and handbrake
2 radius arm grease nipples
replace fuse box
and various minor jobs for MOT
New rocker cover gasket (to rectify the only MOT advisory)
2 new front wheel bearings, a new battery, coolant flush and new thermostat
This car's odometer is showing 90,349 miles - which would be an average of roughly 3,000 miles per year over its 31 year life. However, It is believed that the car has actually covered far fewer miles that this, perhaps around 40,000, however it is impossible to prove exactly how many miles have been covered. From the MOT history in 2006 this Mini had covered 30,246 miles, in 2010 it had covered 26,003 miles (went backwards?) in 2014 it had covered 26,016 miles, then in 2015 it had covered 82,101 miles, a jump of over 56,000 in one year. This was at the time of the original twin clock dashboard being swapped for a classic style centre speedo binnacle, so I assume that the car was fitted with a new speedometer and odometer showing much higher mileage. It is extremely unlikely that the car covered 56,000 miles in one year! So the actual mileage is most probably around 40,000 but where the engine has been changed, the mileage of the engine is unknown. As with any 30 year old vehicle, condition is more important than mileage, but it is clear that the actual mileage shown on the odometer is incorrect.
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. I really like the way this Mini drives. It has bags of power (for a Mini) and the suspension is very smooth (for a Mini) and it's really good fun to drive. The Mini starts first turn of the key, with just a hint of choke, the 1275cc 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 original specification was 39BHP, it now has been improved to 70bhp (measured on rolling road in October 2018). That doesn't sound like a staggering amount, but when you combine it with the go kart handling and low weight, its an absolute blast. The 70bhp output is the same as the original 1963 1071 Cooper S - the rally champion and stuff of legend. This is possibly the most 'eager' classic Mini I have driven. 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 every journey becomes 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 15th October 2020. Only one advisory on the last MOT (oil leak, since rectified by new rocker cover gasket) and importantly: zero advisories for any underbody corrosion.
As you can probably see from the pictures, this Mini is very handsome, having undergone significant restoration and mechanical work in the past. It's in good mechanical and structural condition, but 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.
If it were in perfect condition, looking at what else is available in the current market, it could be worth in the region of £7,000 to £9,000. The reason for the attractive lower price is due to the fact that being an older restoration, there are a few minor traces of corrosion starting to reappear on the upper bodywork, and the respray was not the best I've ever seen. As you can see from the pictures, it's very presentable. but upon very close inspection you will find there is room for improvement. So this mini is priced sensibly to leave the next owner an opportunity to either enjoy it as it is, or invest in further paintwork, but allowing enough headroom for significant value to be added. I could get the paintwork spruced up myself, but it would take time and investment, and I'd have to sell it at a higher price which would take longer, so I'll leave that decision to the next owner. If I were buying it to use myself, I would enjoy it as it is for this summer, and then improve it over the winter as a simple project. It's well sorted mechanically and appears structurally to be in good condition with an excellent interior, so all of the hard work on the infrastructure has been done. 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.
A lovely Mini, great fun to drive, with more horsepower than many other available examples, a long MOT and ready to go for Mini adventures!
These classic Minis seem to be increasingly popular and prices are rising as a result, which means they could be a wise investment. This Mini looks like outstanding value, as there could be well over £4,000 worth of restoration and improvements carried out over the last four years, and it would probably cost considerably more to buy a restoration project and do the work yourself. As with all classic Minis, this is a hugely entertaining classic, capable of achieving in excess of 100 smiles per hour!