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NO RESERVE - 1978 Leyland Mini 1275 GTS

No Reserve!

**Please note, additional photos have been added to the bottom of the gallery!**


﹒Freshly imported performance Mini derivative
﹒Built by Leyland in Blackheath, Cape Town
﹒Original condition with minor renovations
﹒Rare vinyl trim and SA Custom mag wheels

The Background

In Mini history, the 1275 GTS is often spoken of in hushed tones. Initially planned as the ‘Leyland Cooper’, it was the brainchild of British Leyland South Africa.

Free of the shackles of BL’s UK corporate governance, the team at Blackheath, near Cape Town, were able to go a bit further than their UK colleagues in making the Mini go faster, and plans for a faster, punchier Cooper S were already underway when the new flat-nose Mini Clubman appeared. 

The new body style allowed Leyland South Africa some freedom to make it go faster. They started by increasing the bore of the block and shortening the stroke, highly polishing the combustion chamber, cross drilling the crank, and adding aluminium pistons and new steel-alloy valves. In addition, a large 35-litre fuel tank replaced the two small tanks, and larger 8 ¼-inch disc brakes were fitted along with 12-inch wheels.

What followed was a series of competition successes in both track and rally events, though it was never really well known outside of South Africa.

Production ran from 1972 to 1979 during which around 4,600 were made, keeping the legacy of the Mini Cooper alive long after it had left the UK market. The 1275 GTS  should not be confused with the UK’s own 1275 GT, either. It was a much faster and better developed car.

This one is a fresh import to the UK and is awaiting registration. It’s one of a handful of GTSs known to be here.

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The History

Not much is known about this car’s early life, but it is an older restoration and was recommissioned in the 1990s, when the decals and paint were also refreshed. It was stored again for some time and put back on the road in 2018. 

It also has a few bits of intriguing automobilia about it – an original AA South Africa sticker in the side window and a licence disk holder for ‘SupaQuick Tyres’ all adding to its interesting past.

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The Paperwork

All of the import paperwork has been done along with customs clearance and the vendor is happy to supply it registered and with a UK V5C or leave that to the new buyer, should they wish to export the car elsewhere. There’s little in the way of paperwork from its early life.

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The Interior

There are a few notable differences between a British Mini and the 1275 GTS, namely a revised dash with round air vents, an instrument panel with a rev counter, a leather-clad three-spoke steering wheel, and a key-locking steering column instead of the centre console key location on British models of the day (though this adaptation was fitted to British Minis later). 

This model has cream vinyl upholstery, again never offered in a UK car. It would have been a choice when new between those or velour bucket seats also offered on the model. The seats are in good order with no rips or tears, but do have signs of wear from 45 years of use.

It also comes with a set of period ‘Leyland’ floor mats and a hidden battery kill switch for added security.

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The Exterior

Thanks to the dry South African climate, the 1275 GTS has survived in pretty much rust-free condition.

The car has been restored some years ago but primarily in the form of a cosmetic restoration, with new paint and decals, but for the most part originality being key to its refurbishment. 

Everything from the SA Custom slot mag wheels through to the wide arches is exactly how it would have left the Blackheath factory back in 1978. The wheels were a Leyland South Africa option and are in themselves quite collectible. 

The car is also an unusual colour. Fewer than 100 1275 GTSs were made in silver as metallic paint was an expensive option at the time.

The underside of the car is extremely solid with none of the rot in any of the usual Mini places such as the sills, drivers floors, boot floor or lower bulkhead. Luckily, a replacement will be cheap and easy to source. Some new rear lights and refurbished badges also wouldn’t go amiss.

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The Mechanics

This is a low mileage car having covered just over 80,000km from new, but even so the engine has recently been fully refurbished with every part either reconditioned or replaced including the carburettors, radiator and most ancillary components. 

The engine runs and sounds great with no signs of excessive smoke or oil consumption and will be fully serviced by a well-known Mini specialist before the new owner takes delivery.

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The Appeal

This car appeals on so many levels. It’s an almost unique Mini that’s bound to be a talking point at shows, a car that has something of a cult following in its home market and a car that is ridiculously good fun to drive. 

Not only does its rarity and pedigree give it status among collectors and Mini enthusiasts alike, but just look at it, with its slot mags and body stripes… how cool is that?

**Please note, additional photos have been added to the bottom of the gallery!**

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1978
  • Make British Leyland
  • Model Mini 1275 GTS
  • Colour Silver
  • Odometer 82,002 Kilometers
  • Engine size 1275
  • Location Norfolk
Bidding history
97 bids
  • Oa•••• £9,600 03/02/21
  • Rs•••• £9,500 03/02/21
  • Rs•••• £9,400 03/02/21
  • ni•••• £9,300 03/02/21
  • Rs•••• £9,200 03/02/21
  • ni•••• £9,100 03/02/21
  • Rs•••• £9,000 03/02/21
  • ni•••• £8,900 03/02/21
  • ni•••• £8,800 03/02/21
  • Rs•••• £8,700 03/02/21

The Gallery

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