Monday, 4 May 2009

Happy 50th Birthday Mini...

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Amazing!

This piece made me stare into the middle distance for a few moments...

We've had three Minis over the years; Mrs S, (before she became Mrs S) had one too, and our favourite Clubman had to be sold during another recession in the seventies. I bought another one years later for £350, and actually got the cash out on my Access card! I also had a Mini van as my first firm's car somewhere down the line...

I learned to drive in a Mini van, because I first started work as a trainee in an Estate Agents in Ashford, and one of the menial tasks, after cleaning the coffee machine, was to collect the rents on Monday mornings. There were about thirty houses to call on and the firm needed a lad who could drive, so they paid for all my driving lessons! (For what it's worth, one old Dear in South Ashford paid 14 bob (70p) a week for her cottage, and she used to make beef pudding for her son...)

And yes, you did open the door with a cable stretched below the window, the windows slid back and were totally insecure, and the heater was either blazing on or freezing off. I think it cost about £350 too...

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30 comments:

lilith said...

They always scared me a bit, Scrobs. My best friend at 16 rolled in one with a car full (5 of them). One broken leg was all any of them had to show for it!

The road noise is pretty wacky races too. Plays havoc with the tinnitus. The steering wheel was off centre so you had to drive slightly twisted. I used to be fascinated by the simplicity of the dash board.

You are right. You have to love them.

Philipa said...

Oh I love minis and had a green and white one. Mark II I think. You know the one where you had to pump the suspension up with green goo. Everytime I drove it something dropped off. I would stop and collect it and fix it back on. Ahh happy days.

As I'm tall the drivers seat nearly touched the back seat and I couldn't see well to turn right as the door post was in the way. It added an element of mystery and surprise to every journey :-)

Scrobs... said...

Lils and Pips - you see, it takes 'Proper Girls' to get straight in with the comments on what I feared would be a blokes post, and I agree with everything you say (phew...)!

I actually wanted to buy one of the last Coopers in the old shape - even went to see it in the garage, but Mrs S suggested that I was getting a bit too staid for such a thing, so I met her halfway - and didn't get it!

idle said...

They were too small for me, but I liked the sight of them. I remember that the girls liked them.

I might buy a modern one second hand as my next station runner, as they are better designed for taller chaps now.

Tuscan Tony said...

By odd coincidence the Tuscan juniors were watching The Italian Job ("You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off, Ms. Faithfull") for the first time last night: they had amazingly advanced dynamics/suspension for the era, if I recall.

Like the new one, not so wild about the estate/clubman//whatever version of it though.

Trubes said...

I've had thre Mini's Scrobs, the first I bought for £50 from a dodgy dealer, the brakes failed and I demolished DT's garage doors.
We were just 'a courtin' then so I was forgiven. I traded it in for £100 against a newer model and then DT took pity on me and bought me a new blue Metro of which I was immensely proud. That cost £600....Oh happy days!

Di.x

Philipa said...

Trubes - a Metro? Eew!

Scrobs... said...

Iders, yes they were small, but we were all thinner then...

I really would like to get one of the old shape Minis again, especially to hear the creak of the sub-frame rusting away quietly at each set of traffic lights!

The Girls did like them, and Lils and Pips are first out of the tapes on that. Trubes is just in the race now, coming up on the ropes with values and a tale about DT's 'doors', which brings me to...

Scrobs... said...

...Tuscs - and the Young Tuscans liked one of the greatest fims ever made, class shows you know!

The suspension was indeed tied in with that oil/tube channel, which whizzed round all the time. Was it called 'Hydrolastic'?

You had to make sure it was topped up, otherwise the cills were about three inches off the deck!

Mrs S wants a Clubman, because they're great for hauling shopping at Sainsbury's!

electro-kevin said...

You said you weren't an estate agent !

HE SAID HE WASN'T AN ESTATE AGENT. Am I right, everybody ?

I like real minis too. You can be a geezer and still drive one without looking a tosser in it.

(Crap to work on though. Engine compartment for midgets and children only.)

Scrobs... said...

Trubes, you#re not supposed to be the right shortness to get into a Mini, as you have long legs!

No wonder the garage doors failed to stop DT from getting spliced to you, I reckon that's a poor excuse, but I'll allow the explanation just this once...

Sounds like £50 was a bargain then, most of the old ones changed hands like that, it was really hit and miss, as your garage doors can testify!

;0)

Scrobs... said...

OK, OK, OK!!! I was Elecs, but only for two years - honest...

(counts fingers and smirks...)

And don't be midgetist, because although I'm about 5 ft 7 ins now, having shrunk with age, (aren't I Lils...), I used to have the seat right back like Idle, which made steering slightly odd if you'd just cut your finger nails!

killemallletgodsortemout said...

I had two minis. AGJ 299 and 7977 HJ, a red mini with sliding windows and a floor mounted push-button starter, and a teal blue with a white roof Mini Cooper S - with an 8 track stereo!!!

chopped the Cooper S in for a mark 1 GT Cortina, EJN 762C.

Sad, or what?

The Lakelander said...

Yes - they were better suited to smaller people, but it didn't stop me from fitting the entire front two rows of my rugby team scrum into my Mini, after an away game.

I dread to think what would have been the result, if I'd crashed. I think there was no travel left in the suspension.

Philipa said...

Scrobs it was green goo! Well a sort of luminous turquise actually.

I remember breaking down one time and was wearing an expensive dress (worth more than the car) and a knight in shining armour stopped and attempted to help me. Yeah like hell, he knew F- all about cars. I had to insist he go away and have a look myself as I was losing light. One swift phone call to Dad and a replacement petrol pipe was brought to me and fitted to the carb. And no I didn't get the dress dirty. Small is sometimes beautiful when you're bending over it.

Scrobs... said...

Killers - I'd always thought that the Coopers traditionally were green, or possibly red for a long while...

The white roof was a badge of honour too but were the seats different?

GT Cortina - very fast and great fun. I borrowed a chum's one night and was asked by his wife not to crash it!

Even now, I remember flooring it round a 's' bend near Rye and just - and only just - managing to stay on a very wet road...

Scrobs... said...

Lakes, that brought back a reverie of similar circumstances...

Did that also bring on a situation of 'Chinese ovens'?

Scrobs... said...

Pips, that last line's sheer poetry, which will haunt me for several hours now...

How could the suspension of a little car cause so much emotion and feeling?

Trubes said...

Phillipa; What's wrong with Metros then? I thought that I was quite the 'girl about town' when I was driving it, mind you it was 1986!

Scrobs: The garage doors had to be replaced and I too have shrunk with age.

Di.x

Philipa said...

Trubes - I've just always disliked them. To me comparing the mini to the metro is more stark a contrast than comparing the TR6 to the TR7. The AD088 (the metro concept car and to be called the LC8) was designed at a dire financial time for BL. "Mechanically, ADO88 was to use the A-Series engine and gearbox-in sump: the classic Mini arrangement, but variance was made on the suspension." A parts-bin design due to financial contstraints led to a compromised end product. It was well received as there was a big push for buying British at the time, and the company was struggling. The company did well given the resources they had. But I never felt that the metro quite matched the Ford Fiesta or Renault 5, it's main competitors. I had a Renault 5after a mark I Escort. I never liked the short bonnet or the design of the metro generally though it was functional. Generally I've always preferred Ford to British Leyland.

Trubes said...

Well Phillipa I did ask! A most comprehensive answer. I moved on from the Metro to a Ford Orion 1.6 GLX a little flyer then on again to a Mondeo Ghia.
I now trundle around in a Honda CRV, which suits my needs.
Quite luxurious compared to the Metro!
Di.x

Philipa said...

A Mondeo Ghia? Ahh now you're talking! I did like my Mondeo estate. In fact I have a piccy of me with it, talking to Boz Cat, next to a sign saying 'Do Not Park Here'. Classic me.

I miss Horace though - my Series II Landy. Massive wheels, yeahhh. Horace was fun. Landrovers aren't cars they're... entities.

mutleythedog said...

I have never owned a mini.....

Scrobs... said...

Trubes, I hired a Ford Onion years ago, while waiting for a company car.

I'd had it only a fortnight when the 1987 gale flattened it and wrote it off!

May have a pic somewhere...

Scrobs... said...

Pips - "Landrovers aren't cars they're... entities" - especially when going round left-hand bends.

They take on a life of their own...

Scrobs... said...

Mutters - bet you've been places in one though...

killemallletgodsortemout said...

You've got me going now.

Mine was re-sprayed Teal Blue from green, five and a half inch J steel wheels, with spats. Needed a set of wheel bearings every six months. Anti-roll bar, sump guard, all the racy bits, including a yob's exhaust. Seats were "bucket" seats - very comfortable. Organ pedal accelerator, remote gear change lever. The thing was a dream, and was faster than than a NuLabour u-turn.

Like I said - sad, eh?

Scrobs... said...

Killers; not sad at all - they were made for just that in an age when we didn't have to worry about whether the things were roadworthy...

I mended our Fiat 500 with several sectons from my Dad's greenhouse, some window sections from a bad job in London, and about three pounds of fibreglass padding.

It passed its MOT every year, and eventually finished up on a farm near Rye, for £45, and a few beers!

I love the way you describe your car - that's the important thing; the memory eh?

Scrobs... said...

Killers, just form the record, I put a new starter motor in the Fiat once.

After it had got going beautifully, I boasted in the pub about how easy it was, and someone said 'When did you disconnect the battery then?"

I said 'Um - didnn't...'

They said 'You bloody fool, you could have shorted the whole lot and taken off all your fingers into the bargain'

Collapse of Scrobs' ego, and needment of several pints of Sheps to get over the shock!

Philipa said...

Oh we've all made dumb mistakes (and dated a few).

I like the new Fiat 500.

I remember stripping down the carbs on a neglected G5 in a friends garage and there was petrol all over the floor. Where I was kneeling. Some chap wandered in and I asked him to step outside with his cigarette. He threw it on the floor and smiled. Now THAT, Scrobs, is an a$$hole.

I love the smell of engine oil in the morning.