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Austin Mini: Buying guide and review (1959-2000)

Austin Mini: Buying guide and review (1959-2000) Classic and Performance Car
Austin/Morris Mini buying guide Austin/Morris Mini buying guide
Of all the thousands of cars in the history of motoring, none has ever united the classes in the same way as the BMC Mini. From students to pop stars, wealth (or lack of) has never been a barrier to Mini ownership – and nothing has changed since the car’s demise in 2000. 
 
Whether you’re loaded or strapped for cash, a Mini makes sense because it’s such huge fun to drive and easy to maintain; running costs can also be astonishingly low. But the best part is the social side; buying a Mini opens up all sorts of opportunities for your social life thanks to the massive number of clubs that cater for the car. You might think all this would be enough, but there are also unlimited possibilities to personalise your Mini; which must make this tiny buzzbox one of the most appealing and versatile cars ever created. 
 
While there are a number of joys to be had with a classic Mini, there is also potential heartbreak when it comes to buying a car needing a lot of work, or hiding serious problems. Many cars have been badly restored, while others might be in need of serious mechanical work. While most things are cheap and easy to fix, it’s worth seeking out a good car to avoid unnecessary worry in the future.
 
Which one to buy?
 
The obvious answer to the question of which Mini to buy is a Cooper or Cooper S, but these are worthy of a separate guide so we’ll focus on all of the other derivatives here. Read the full Cooper and Cooper S buying guide here. The thing is, there’s no shortage of derivatives as there were 848cc, 998cc and 1275cc engines, saloon, estate, pick-up and van bodystyles and later on there was a handful of cabriolets created too. 
 
All but the saloon are rather specialised and relatively rare too, so the chances are you’ll be homing in on a saloon of some kind. Anything with an 848cc engine is now pretty collectable – especially if it’s an early car in good, original condition. The MkIs (built between 1959 and 1967) are the most sought after, but the MkII (made from 1967 to 1969 and offered with a 998cc engine option) is also covetable too. 
 
By the time the MkIII arrived in 1969 the Mini was less cute, with its concealed door hinges and winding windows. But the fitment of a 998cc engine (there was still an 848cc option) makes the car more usable. Mini saloons from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are generally much less collectable, unless they’re Cooper editions – which is why they’re perfect if you’re buying your Mini to use rather than as an investment. 
 
If you want to consider something a little bit more unusual, then there is of course the Mini Moke. While it’s based on the Mini’s underpinnings, the body is completely different, and a whole lot of fun! If you can’t think where you’ve seen a Moke, the fun little beach car featured in all sorts of cult TV series such as The Prisoner, and even a few James Bond films. Read the full Moke buying guide here.
 
Performance and specs
 
Mini 850 MkI 
Engine 848cc, in-line four-cylinder
Power 34bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 44lb ft @ 2900rpm
Top speed 75mph
0-60mph 29.7sec
Fuel consumption 40mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2038mm
Length 3054mm
Width 1410mm
Height 1346mm
Kerb weight 650kg
 
Common problems
 
• All Minis rust, often spectacularly. Check everything you can see, with the main areas to watch including the A-pillars, scuttle panels, sills and front subframe mounting points. The floorpan will most likely be corroded, so pull back the carpets and rear seat to inspect. Front and rear shock absorber mounts can become corroded while the rear subframes are a common MoT failure. 
 
• The A-series engine is one of the simplest and durable engines in classic motoring, and you can expect a well serviced example to last 100,000 miles before it needs a rebuild. Problems are easy to diagnose and repair at home, while spares are plentiful and cheap.
 
• Oil leaks are to be expected. With the larger capacity 1275cc engines, expect more rapid wear to the valve stem seals and valve guides. If you can hear a noisy timing chain, especially a problem on the Mini 1000, then be prepared to fit an uprated duplex chain assembly to cure it. 
 
• The standard four-speed manual gearboxes can last for over 100,000 miles before a rebuild, if the oil (shared with the engine) is changed every 3000 miles. A three-speed automatic transmission was offered from 1965. 
 
• One of the defining aspects of the Mini is its rubber-cone suspension system, which requires very little maintenance. Most Minis, if not modified, will come with this great set-up apart from saloons built from the mid-to-late 1960s that feature a considerably different Hydrolastic system. 
 
• If the car has been owned by a careless parker, the rear suspension alignment will most likely be out of whack. Damages radius arms will occur if the wheels are knocked, but thankfully parts are readily available to set it right again.
 
• If aftermarket wheels have been fitted it's worth checking the width of them. Anything over six inches wide will put an undue strain on the bearings, and will probably foul the bodywork. 
 
• The lack of electrical goodies means that wiring issues are very easy to fix. If it's not properly secured, the boot-mounted battery can cause fireworks, just like if the live lead to the starter motor is allowed to short out. Most starting issues can be traced back to issues with this lead. The bulkhead-mounted fusebox is often laced with poor connections, and bullet connectors fitted to early cars will cause troubles if not replaced. 
 
Model history 
 
1959: Mini 848cc saloon debuts, in Austin Se7en and Morris Mini-Minor forms. A van and pick-up arrive soon after, along with Countryman and Traveller estates. 
1967: The MkII Mini goes on sale, with larger rear windows and back lights. The Super Deluxe and estate get a 998cc engine. 
1969: Mini MkIII launched in 850 and 1000 forms. There are saloon, van and pick-up options plus a 1275GT and Clubman, the latter in saloon or estate guises. 
1979: Mini City and 850 Deluxe introduced. 
1980: The Mini 850, Clubman and 1275GT are discontinued. 
1989: Cooper conversion introduced 
1990: Cooper limited edition arrives; 1000 are made 
1991: Cooper is now part of the standard range. There’s also a Cooper S conversion available. 
1991: Low-volume independently-built LAMM convertible announced. 
1991: Cooper gets injected engine and catalytic converter. 
1993: Mini Cabriolet introduced. 
2000: Final run of Cooper Sport 500s is made before the Mini ceases production on 4 October, after 5,387,862 Minis had been produced.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.britishminiclub.co.uk
• www.miniownersclub.co.uk
• www.minicooper.org
• www.theminiforum.co.uk
• Minispares.com
• www.moss-europe.co.uk
• www.minisport.com
 
Summary and prices
 
Early Mk1 Minis are the rarest, as well as the most expensive of the non-Cooper models. The very first ‘59 cars in good condition can easily fetch in excess of £20,000, with later Mk1 cars commanding closer to £10,000 in good condition. There are plenty of projects around, as well as fakes, so be sure you know what you are buying.
 
Budget around £6000 for a later Mini in fine fettle, with usable cars coming in at £2000-£4500. As always with cheaper cars, be sure to know what problems could be lurking within, as repair costs can quickly spiral out of control. The Clubman remains a great value way into Mini ownership. 
Austin/Morris Mini buying guide Austin/Morris Mini buying guide
Last updated: 9th Aug 2016
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Austin Mini
1950 79500 GBP
  • Austin Mini

    £4,995 £4,995

    CD Player, Radio A true British Icon, AUTOMATIC Mini Mayfair - Appreciating Asset - We are Selling on behalf of current local Lady Keeper - New Exhaust fitted April 2018 - Major Service, February 2018 - Lovingly restored to its current pristine condition.

    • Mileage: 50500 mi
    • Engine size: 998
    For sale
    £4,995 £4,995
    White Swan Car Centre
  • Austin Mini 1989

    £1,950 £1,950

    For sale is my mini Mayfair convertible 1989 in green, I brought this little gem a few weeks ago with the intention of fixing it up for my daughters 1st car, but with my other clic car needed lots of work to it, I will have to part with this. The mini comes with full leather in excellent condition and wooden steering wheel, and also has 4 excellent condition alloys with great tyres with lots of tread. The roof is in excellent condition with no rips or tears (just needs a clean). The original owner told me that his dad had the front and rear subframes replaced a few years back as with the rear shocks which are spax. I've had a look underneath the car and is in great condition as for the boot floor and battery tray. I managed to get the car going as been stood for 3 years which only needed fresh fuel and new points condenser rotor arm and cap. The engine ticks over with no knocks or tles, and sits at normal opeing tempeure.  Bad points : will need new clutch slave cylinder : will need new brake master cylinder : bodywork a bit tired  car will need to be trailered away as has no mot or tax Sold as seen £1950ono

    • Engine size: 998
    For sale
    £1,950 £1,950
  • Austin Mini 1987

    £5,500 £5,500

    My mini started life as a 1987 automatic and is registered as such. 4 years ago , subject to both “subframes off” complete restoion including new door skins , sills, suspension, wiring, and complete respray...I have 100s of photos to show !Very recently she has undergone a transformation into a retro 1973 innocenti Mini Cooper export lookalike. This includes a complete engine change, 1275cc , manual, and full rebuild in January this year . Engine from A 1992A+It also boosts a 1973 registion for the retro period All parts sourced for the lookalike are Italian either new or used Carello steering wheel is an original “Hellebore” from a innocenti of this periodInterior has been totally retrained in burnt orange pile and black ....seats from the Italian job styling sound proofed all int panels New MOT May 2018 ....no oil leaks , rolling road dyno 62BHP SummaryComplete engine rebuildSubframes off restoionNew interiorComplete resprayNew heater matrixElectronic ignition Maniflow ex system Innocenti styledSills/door skins replacedRubber mounts/suspension replacedHeater hoses replaced Sound proofedQuick release front grule All documents/bills/photos available of restoion/rebuild An awful lot of care and attention has gone into this recreation....to buy an original Innocenti of the period will cost between 12k - 15k!! £5,550 Ono

    • Engine size: 998
    For sale
    £5,500 £5,500
  • 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S Sedan

    $79,500(£0) $79,500(£0)

    In Europe and England in the 1950s, skyrocketing fuel prices brought on by the Suez Crisis were driving sales of microcars and so-called “bubble cars”. BMC chief Leonard Lord considered these motorbike-powered cars dangerous and uncivilized, so he charged his team to develop a compact car capable of carrying a family of four with a level of refinement not found in micro cars. Alex Issigonis was lured away from Alvis to spearhead the engineering team and his only limitations were that the car should fit in a 10 x 4 x 4 foot box, and be powered by an existing engine to keep costs low. Issigonis’ resulting front-drive, transverse-engine Mini would soon prove to be one of the most influential cars of all time. More than 5 million were built between 1959 and 2000, along the way becoming a cultural icon and symbol of British pride. The Austin Mini is a truly classless automobile that was embraced by everyone from the working man to the Royal Family. Despite its pragmatic purpose, the Mini’s innovative hydrolastic suspension and “square” stance gave it tremendous kart-like cornering ability. This captured the attention of Issigonis’ friend, racing car builder John Cooper. Together the pair persuaded reluctant BMC management to allow them to develop a hot version of the Mini for homologation purposes. The resulting Mini-Cooper featured a larger engine, front disc brakes, twin SU carbs and a close ratio gearbox. The Cooper was followed by the Cooper S, with 1,071 cc or 1,275 cc engines to homologate the car for the Under-1100 and Under-1300 classes, respectively. The Cooper and Cooper S took the rallying world by storm, and could also be seen handily whipping much larger competition in the British Saloon Car championship. In the same way the standard Mini was a British pop-culture Icon, the Cooper S became an icon in the world of motorsports. This fabulous 1965 Austin Mini Mk1 is one of just 2,384 originally built to the hottest 1275 cc Cooper S specification. The accompanying British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate shows this car was special-ordered via Wimbledon Motor Works, Ltd of London with a build date of September 22, 1964 and that it is one of just 1,060 of its type built for the home market. It was finished as it is today in Tweed Gray with an Old English White roof and despatched on October 5th 1964, registered “FLO 979C”. The first owner was an advertising executive named Roger John Paterson, who registered the car through his company, S.P.M. Advertising, Ltd. Mr. Paterson specified his Mini in the same configuration as the Works racers, and it is clear that he was quite fond it, retaining the car for nearly four decades. Unlike so many examples of the Cooper S, Mr. Paterson kept his car in road trim and never raced it, so it has survived the years remarkably intact, down to the correct original engine, body and hydrolastic suspension. It was used regularly before being taken off the road between 1976 and 1981, when it was treated to a light restoration and returned to duty with the Patersons. The Cooper S would stay in the family until Mr. Paterson’s death in 2003. At that time, Mrs. Paterson consigned the car with UK specialist Sussex Sports Cars. Following the sale, the second owner returned “FLO” to Sussex Sports Cars for a more comprehensive restoration. Part way through the project, he sold the car and the new Italian owner had it converted to left hand drive and the interior updated with red highlights, though he never took delivery. Now fully restored, FLO 979C would pass through the hands of respected dealer Duncan Hamilton before crossing the pond to join the personal collection of noted dealer and enthusiast Bill Noon in 2006. Mr. Noon would have the Cooper S sympathetically prepped for historic rallying. It was issued an FIA passport and in 2008, Noon and his co-driver would compete in the legendary Tour Auto in France. The car performed very well, even winning one of the hillclimb stages outright. Mr. Noon parted with “FLO” in 2011, when it joined a large collection of English and European sports cars. Recently refreshed and presented in fast-road specification, this Mini Cooper S remains in excellent condition, wearing its original livery of Tweed Gray with Old English White roof. The paint is in excellent condition, and the body is straight and tidy. Chrome and bright fittings are in fine order, and the car rides on correct original steel wheels wrapped in sticky 165/70R-10 Avon CR6 ZZ tires that are equally suited for road or rally duty. The interior remains in excellent condition, in left drive and with red and gray trim using correct type materials and patterns. It presents in fine fettle throughout, with very good detailing. Should the next owner want to participate in more serious events, a pair of color-keyed racing bucket seats will be included, as will the Safety Devices roll bar and a discreetly installed on-board fire system. The 1,275 cc Austin A-Series engine presents in beautiful condition in factory correct dark green paint and topped by twin S.U. carburetors complete with original air cleaner intact. The engine runs well and delivers a healthy punch, propelling the tiny Cooper along the road at surprising speed. Combined with the hydrolastic suspension and grippy Avon rubber, the driving experience is an absolute thrill. This is rare opportunity to acquire a genuine, documented Mk1 1275 S with matching numbers and excellent history from new. Discreet modifications make it ready for the road or for use in any number of driving events worldwide. A sheer delight to experience, this is a wonderful example John Cooper’s legendary giant-slayer.

    For sale
    $79,500(£0) $79,500(£0)
  • Austin Mini 1989

    £3,200 £3,200

    Mini Thirty 1989 - been looked after by enthusiast and fitted with twin carbs like a Cooper with wide alloys etc. Has been stored in garage for a couple of years since purchase. Bodywork and engine all seems fine and have got a work history supplied from previous owner. Can't get better pics as I cant get it out of the garage atm - will update.

    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 998
    For sale
    £3,200 £3,200
  • Austin Mini Countryman De-Luxe

    £24,995 £24,995

    About this Austin Mini Countryman De-Luxe This lovely looking, London supplied Mini Estate is believed to be the second oldest surviving Austin Seven Countryman, its build date of 16th June 1960 being three months before the official launch date. As the Heritage certificate confirms, it was supplied in Tartan Red (as it is today) and with the plate that it still sports (4507 MH) to a Mr John Buck by Car Mart Limited and the date of despatch was 25th July 1960. The registration document infers that the car was then listed for sale almost immediately and was purchased by the second owner, a Mr John Hurford who owned the car for the majority of its life. It subsequently made its way onto Ebay in 2011 where it was purchased by the third owner, Mr Nigel Howard who embarked on a sympathetic rebuild. The paint was refreshed to the tune of over £7000 and the woodwork removed, refinished and refitted although the interior Longstone vinyl trim and and cloth headlining have been retained. The original engine and mechanicals have been rebuilt and detailed and there are invoices for whatever was needed. The fourth and final owner part exchanged it with us and we drove it back from deepest darke

    • Mileage: 78000 mi
    For sale
    £24,995 £24,995
  • Austin Mini

    £29,490 £29,490

    Requiring no introduction, the Mk.I Mini Cooper ‘S’ 1275cc is perhaps the hottest car to own today, and de rigueur for any collector… Our car, a late 1967 build sold by Stringers Motors of Bournemouth in June ’68 is offered with its original registration it adorned then, sports its original colour scheme of Island Blue with Old English White roof and boasts just four former keepers making it surely a consideration to any prospective Cooper S purchaser? We won’t pretend this car is 100% original having been altered in the early 1980’s when used in fast-road and rally competitions as part of Colin McRae’s Aberdeen and District Motor Club, but it is genuine matching chassis and engine numbers; does carry a period charm; and is not priced at above £55,000 as many seem to believe is accurate! Our pocket-rocket Cooper is exceptionally quick thanks to its Stage 4 1293cc ‘S’ engine and ‘S’ box with lower final drive. It sports twin Dellorto down draught carburetors, forged Works pistons, stage 4 fully-ported big-valve ‘S’ head, fully-adjustable suspension, high-load sport clutch pressure plate and modified oil pressure relief valve. ‘MRU 788F’ was the subject of a comprehensive bare-metal restoration in 2002 with replaced or restored front wings, inner and outer ‘A’ posts, outer doorsteps, inner and outer sills, boot floor and battery box, complete offside rear arch, then stripped, seam-sealed and repainted topside and underneath. Despite the paint retaining a deep shine, after 15 years it could now be bettered. The retains many original features and parts including Grey and Gold Brocade rear seats and door cards, however, crushingly, the front seats were replaced by period style bucket seats many years ago, and the dashboard has been replaced to allow for more instrumentation which was necessary when campaigned. We’re certain these aspects could be reinstated if one chose, and this is why our asking price leaves enough ‘value’ left in the car for somebody to undertake this. Accompanied by BMIHT heritage certificate, current MOT, V5C and several past log books, a full DVLA record of owners, countless invoices and receipts and a whole host of photographs, we invite your sincere interest and viewing of this special little Mini.

    • Year: 1968
    • Mileage: 52000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.3
    For sale
    £29,490 £29,490
  • 1971 Austin Mini Cooper

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This left-hand drive Mini was originally produced during the late-1990s and it is titled as a 1971 model, thereby making it emissions-exempt in California. With approximately 500 miles from new, it is highly equipped with a fuel-injected 1,300 cc engine, a four-speed gearbox, an oil cooler, power brakes with front discs, driving lights, hydraulic steering, Minilite wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tires, plus such late-production features as a driver’s side airbag and a sporting two-tone interior. It also features a new full-size spare tire, two keys with remote entry, a complete alarm system, tools, and a washer bottle in the rear. It is also radio-prepped with speakers and antenna already installed and ready for your favorite stereo unit. Simply put, this amazing Mini perfectly combines iconic styling with the comfort and performance of today! Please note: While this vehicle was originally produced circa 1998/1999, it is currently titled in California as a 1971 model.

    • Year: 1971
    • Mileage: 500 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S

    POA POA

    (SOLD) The Austin Mini Cooper S offered here was the subject of a no-expense-spared, bare-shell restoration by renowned Mini expert and European rallyist Peter Valentine, who prepared the car for International Historic Rally competition to Group II Appendix J regulations. It competed successfully in Europe, earning a prestigious class win at the Belgian Historic Rally (a Vimeo video of the car at the Belgian Rally may be seen here, and scans of the logbook and other info are shown below) The Mini features a racy color combination of Tartan Red with a white roof, complimented by a Red and Gray interior with it's original glass kept intact. Since it's importation Stateside, the car has been extremely well cared for, and has been a frequent participant at Shows and Concours events. The Mini contains a vast assortment of Rally options and equipment including: twin fuel tanks, (2) spare tires, (4) 7" Lucas auxiliary lights, and a 5" reversing light; for additional safety, a roll cage, competition seats, fire extinguishers and a 4-point harness were added. The car has complete build and service records, an FIA Historic Vehicle Identity form, a RACMSA logbook, and a copy of the Brit V5 re

    • Year: 1964
    • Mileage: 5227 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Austin Mini

    £3,995 £3,995

    This fabulous 1975 Mini 1000 Automatic is a real delight. This practical classic is in exceptional condition and fitted with the very rare automatic gearbox. A perfect incarnation of the legendary Mini Icon. Fantastic to own and drive.

    • Mileage: 54000 mi
    • Engine size: 1000
    For sale
    £3,995 £3,995
  • Austin Mini

    £3,200 £3,200

    Recent service,no advisories on MOT drives well.Repair work done well and generally in good order with less rust than you would expect for a 26 year old car.We are unsure of the exact mileage of this car.

    • Mileage: 105000 mi
    • Engine size: 998
    For sale
    £3,200 £3,200
  • Austin Mini

    £10,495 £10,495

    Full Leather, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo, Front Fog Lamps, Metallic Paintwork, Sports Seats, Alloy wheels, Service history Has bill of £18000 spent

    • Mileage: 49000 mi
    • Engine size: 1275
    For sale
    £10,495 £10,495