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Homepage. This page: One that got away? A story about a Mk1 Mini discovery for the Barn Finds section of OCC.
Barn finds - hidden classic cars

Austin Mini Mk1 1964.

Minis are no stranger to our family - I learnt to drive in a 1967 Mini estate, my brother ran a tuned 1980s Mini for a time, while uncle had a Mini-powered Cox GTM in the '70s and '80s. Early Minis are jolly sought-after nowadays, earlier the better and if it's a 1959 example, or any Cooper, that turns up in an abandoned garage or barn, then even better. This story is about a Mk1 Austin Mini saloon that my brother and I discovered many years ago, but for some reason didn't end up owning.
This particular "barn find", or "garage find" to be more accurate, turned up in 1989 or thereabouts during a camping trip with the rest of the family. At the time I was running a Mk1 A40 Farina as my daily wheels - the car I took my driving test in, and still resides here albeit now needing restoration. Anyway, not far from the camp site was a rural, slightly run-down, garage from which motor fuel could be purchased. The owner, a serious chap who wasn't given to idle conversation, would appear from the office and top-up your car's tank with barely a word spoken.
After a few visits though, he opened up a little and we'd discuss old Austins and cars in general. A week or so into our holiday, he let slip that he still had his mother's old Mini tucked away, requiring some work but in basically good order. This sounded interesting, but other than showing modest interest, it'd didn't seem wise to push my luck by asking for a peek at the Mini, which he said was a 1960's example.
On a future visit to his emporium, I did suggest, gently, that I'd be interested to see his Mini even though I knew it wasn't up for sale. Surprisingly, he agreed to this, so a date and time were set for my brother and I to call around and inspect this hidden gem.
The doors open, revealing the Mk1 Mini
The day dawned, and we were led to a concrete sectional garage, a bog-standard domestic type with two opening doors. He un-locked the doors and, with some effort, managed to open them half-way. There were no lights in the garage, nor side windows, so the scene was gloomy at first. Partially hidden by empty gas bottles sat the tiny motor-car, a 1964 example of Austin Mini, painted white. Well, most of it was white - the front wings were in black, a result of the owner's decision to start re-furbishing the car. He'd managed to fit two new front wings, and that was as far as he'd got before other things got in the way of continued progress.
Austin Mini Mark 1
Bar some panels for a Morris Minor, and an old home-made go-kart, there was little else of interest in the garage. The Mini though was a little gem, an original one-family-owned Mk1 Austin, which hadn't been on the road since 1984. It needed some light restoration, but basically it was a little cracker. After twenty minutes or so, we left, and the owner re-locked the garage doors.
At the time, my brother was keen on the idea of buying an old Mini to "do up". I wasn't really looking for any more projects so it seemed like a good buy for bro'. At a future meeting with the garage owner, over a gallon or two of four star, we suggested that if - ever - in the future he decided to part with the Mini, we'd be interested in it. To our surprise, he said that he'd be willing to sell it to us. I don't remember the exact price, I think it was in three figures - but only just, as I recall. If it had been now I'd have shaken his hand there and then, but as it was my brother who was principally interested in it, I left it with him to mull over.
For whatever reason, he didn't go for it and I didn't pursue it again either. I returned to the garage a few years ago, the main building is still there and possibly still serving petrol. The garage in which the Mini was stored still stands too, but with no windows to peek through, I couldn't tell if the Mini was still in residence or not. A check of the DVLA site shows that there is still record of the "B" registration Austin, again with a last taxed date of 1984, so it may well still be in there. Alternatively it may have been sold and sits un-restored in someone else's garage, or else was scrapped and DVLA not notified of this heinous crime. I feel a return visit coming on!
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