﹒Uprated engine, brakes and wheels, with options to bring back to original.
﹒Immaculate finish throughout with exquisite detailing
﹒Hard to find in this condition
Based on the iconic Mini, BLMC produced a pick-up and van version built on a lengthened wheelbase shortly after the introduction of the original in 1959. The pick-up retained much of the original mini’s traits throughout its 21-year life, which includes the external door hinges and sliding windows, as well as the memorable characteristic that make the car so endearing to millions.
This 1974 example has seen a ground-up restoration to a very high standard. It successfully combines the look and feel of the original pick-up with a series of subtle but very effective modifications, which enhances its appeal in a world full of wide-arch Minis. It offers an individual style that is hard to resist, thanks to the quality of finish and attention to detail. The car has an interesting background story too, which helps add a little flavour to the presentation of this well-finished car.
The owner started his own motor repair company back in 1974 and as a way of celebrating his companies 40th anniversary, his staff decided to celebrate this milestone by seeking a Mini pick up to restore. A suitable car was located, although complete with original engine and fittings, it was in poor condition. The car had originally been owned by a mechanic since 1985, but it fell into disrepair and put aside. By sheer coincidence, the pick-up had been registered the same weekend as the owner's company was started - an omen and a sign that this was the right car to restore.
Once the car was resettled in its new home, it was completely stripped down and what began was a painstaking process of structural repair and replacement. The car was mounted on a spit frame to assist access resulting in several months of fettling and repair. And all this before the three-year process of the actual restoration…The car has covered less than 200 miles in the last 7 years, as a result, the owner states its lack of use as the main reason for the sale.
The owner has kindly supplied a series of images, as well as documentation covering the restoration process, which allows the new owner to consider themselves rather lucky that the van has seen not only a professional restoration with no corners cut, but appreciate the effort and hard work that has gone into this remarkable little van.
Part of the initial problem was finding decent parts, as Mini specialists are readily available but the quality of the parts can be variable. Fortunately, the owner insisted on making sure that replacement components, which includes everything from the rubbers to the tuning parts were of a high standard. The car also comes with confirmation from the Heritage archive facility in Gaydon, that it is a genuine UK car with a confirmed build date. Although MOT exempt, it still comes with a ticket until December 2021.
The interior is beautifully presented, with a couple of concessions to modernity. There is an additional switch for a rear fog light and a Clarion CD/Stereo player. The seats have also been subject to overhaul and therefore in very good condition, with no wear or damage. Both fold forward to reveal the battery and spare wheel. The frames have signs of surface corrosion but are not a significant distraction. The interior has been carpeted, with an additional sound deadening to help protect the occupants from too much of the ‘Mini experience’, which is another useful addition to driver comfort.
The dashboard is typically spartan, with the centrally mounted speedometer dominating the interior. As with the rest of the controls, it is in good condition. The steering wheel and gear stick is of the original style and are in clean condition with no significant signs of wear. The headline is as new, with no issues observed. The door pockets, catch and the overall finishing of the doors are very good, with the chrome kick-plates in unused condition.
Much effort was taken to retain as much metal and parts as possible. However, the list of new sections and panels is considerable and the project lends itself more of a rebuild rather than a traditional restoration. Significant parts include a new roof panel cut from a donor car, new load area side panel lower sections while retaining the load rails, all new interior and load area floors with underpinning support sections. A new front panel, tailgate and door skins completed the set.
The doors and fit of panels could well be superior to the original Longbridge assembled examples, as the bodywork is almost beyond criticism. There are no dents, scrapes or body imperfections observed, which also includes the exceptional condition of the underside. The doors open and close with no issues, all hang well, with the tailgate mechanism and catches in perfect working order.
The van arrived in its original state to the workshop in white, but it was soon discovered that some sections of the internal panels revealed its original colour. The paint finish is excellent throughout, the lustre has an even deep shine with no signs of flat spots or swirls. This high level of paint finish is maintained throughout the car including the rear bed, inside the cabin and underneath the car. The car has no signs of road use damage and is free from chips or scratches, including the unused rear bed area.
The glass is unmarked with no damage, scratches or age evident, with the glass rubbers in excellent all-round condition. There are no signs of water ingress inside the car. The exterior trim, including the headlamps, rear plastic lenses, chrome trim and chrome brightwork are in excellent condition. The bumpers are free from pitting and have no signs of age. All of the Dunlop SP tyres have very good thread on them and are around 7 years old. These are tastefully finished off with deep-dish Cooper steels to provide extra grip, which is free from any kerbing or damage. These really set the car off nicely, however, the car will also come with the original wheels.
The canvas bed roof has been refabricated accurately using the services of a specialist, who used the original design as a template. The fit of the canvas, including the pegs, is excellent. The canvas itself is in excellent condition with no signs of damage or significant wear. The metal frame that holds the bed roof up is fault free and has been demonstrated to show that it can be dismantled and reassembled with ease.
A decision was made early into the restoration that the van would use reversible upgrades to the engine and brakes, to give the van a fighting chance in modern traffic conditions. The original 850 unit has been replaced by a carefully machined and balanced 998cc engine with twin SU carbs and a mild cam, along the lines of a period Mini Cooper S spec. The original 850 unit with all parts will be part of the sale, along with the original driveshafts. Visually the engine is in good condition, the original engine and chassis plates are clear to see, the core components are in good order, with some of the original items retaining their patina. No leaks were observed.
The brakes have naturally been upgraded to deal with the additional power, and now use discs with a vacuum servo. The original drum brake assembly will also be supplied with the car. The exhaust is in good condition, with no evidence of leaks or significant damage. The rear section, including the drum brakes and subframe, are in very good order, with evidence of recently fitted brake lines. Track rod end ball joint dust covers have also been recently replaced. The gearshift is as good as you could hope for in a near 50-year-old Mini and is said to change with no significant issues.
Mechanically, everything has been renewed to a high standard, with a significant amount of enhancements that transform the driving experience of the car. Not surprisingly the engine sparks into life with no hesitation, with no issues with the running of the unit. No knocks or nasty noises were evident as the car was moved around. No smoke was observed at any point.
The results of this ground-up restoration means that this gem is in exceptional condition. The high level of renewal and fabrication, evident by the time taken to obtain high-quality panel parts lends itself as a potential show winner and the new owner can bask in the glory of a car that is worthy of a classic car magazine cover. Furthermore, if the neat modifications aren't to your taste, then the car comes with many of the original mechanical items, including the engine, brakes and wheels to revert back to the factory finished car from 1974. Either way, you win.
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