**Interested parties should note; The spare parts mentioned in the listing and shown in the gallery are available via a private sale with the vendor, and are not included in the hammer price of this auction**
• Converted to manual trans and MG Metro-spec 1275 engine
• Low Mileage
• Huge amount of new parts
• With its current owner for ten years
The term ‘Clubman’ denotes a certain bon viveur chic, a high-rolling lifestyle of boulevardiers and private clubs in leafy London mews. And it was this ethos of elegance and social climbing that BL sought to emulate with the Mini Clubman. Having poached the stylist Roy Haynes from Ford to achieve the Mini’s nose-job, the point of the exercise was to replace the newly defunct Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet at the top tier of the model range with something that wasn’t so expensive to make; something that was essentially the same as the standard Mini, but with a hefty restyle at the business end. Haynes had recently worked on the Mk2 Cortina, and the relationship is clear with the Mini Clubman’s face. The squared-off nose added a few inches of extra room, and this wasn’t just an exterior revamp – the cabin was upgraded too, with new clocks mounted directly ahead of the driver.
With a variety of engines on offer (including the rorty 1275 GT spec, which became the darling of the BTCC in 1978 at the hands of Richard Longman), the Clubman offered Mini thrills with top-shelf appointments. And while the traditional round-nose long outlived it, the Clubman is the Mini of choice for many a discerning enthusiast today.
The roots of this car can be carefully traced back across the decades, which isn’t something that’s always possible with a 1970s Mini. The current owner has had the Clubman in his possession for a full ten years, having bought it with the intention of being his first car as a teenager. Originally a 998cc automatic, it came from the classic little-old-lady owner, who had been discouraged from driving due to poor eyesight and thus moved the beloved Clubman on. When the current owner got hold of it, the body was wearing all of its original panels aside from one front wing which had been replaced – and that’s still the case today. This is remarkable in itself, and there are many other things about this Mini that are remarkable. Take the running gear, for example: the owner has converted it to a manual transmission, and swapped the engine for a 1275 – and this isn’t just any old 1275, but the rare high-compression unit from an MG-spec Metro which serves up a robust 72bhp (as opposed to the 62bhp made by the regular Mini 1275 A-Series). And the really fun part is the stealth of it all: with the exterior being original 998 spec (down to the skinny steel wheels), he’s kept it all as stock-looking as possible, even going to the extent of painting the engine block green to resemble a 998, as Metro 1275s are red. With the original seats and subtle looks, you mightn’t expect the vibrant performance – and with a 7.5” disc brake upgrade up front, it’s been intelligently re-engineered to suit.
This hasn’t just been a car to him, it’s a beloved member of the family that’s accompanied him all over the country, down through France and beyond. But sadly, it’s time for this relationship to come to an end, as the owner needs to sell the Mini to raise funds for a camper van. With a heavy heart, he’s keen to find a new home for the Clubman where it will continue to be loved and cherished just as it always has been.
There’s a reassuringly robust file of paperwork here, which impressively includes the original service book – comprehensively stamped through the early years of its life and showing that it covered very few miles year-on-year in that time. The V5 is present, and there’s also a substantial sheaf of invoices and receipts for parts purchased from specialists over recent years. There’s documentary evidence of the only body panel that’s ever been replaced, when the front nearside wing was fitted in 2006. The old MOTs are here to help verify the mileage, and there’s even a collection of old tax discs. The car comes with a collection of workshop manuals and tools, as well as a can of green engine paint and two of Russet Brown. And crucially there’s a valuation certificate from Lancaster Insurance, who sent an assessor in February of this year and valued the Mini at £9,250.
The interior of any classic Mini is a wonderful place to be, with the ingenious packaging of the design and airy glasshouse imbuing them with proper Tardis-like qualities. And this one is a paragon of originality, all feeding into the owner’s brief of stealth. The seat fabric has perhaps seen better days, with the bases of the fronts and upper section of the rear bench having succumbed somewhat to the ravages of age, but it’s the originality that’s key, and the frames are strong and foam still supportive. The front seats tilt forward correctly to allow access to the rear, where we find that three-point belts have been fitted. The original brown carpets are in good order throughout, covered with a recent set of mats for protection. The headlining isn’t A1 but it’s certainly not in bad nick and isn’t sagging.
The original instruments are present and functional, and have been augmented by an additional rev counter to the left of the binnacle. The steering wheel is unworn, there are no cracks to the dash-top, and the gearknob has been replaced with a wood BMC item. The doorcards are excellent, the doors’ retaining straps function properly, and the windows wind up and down freely.
A modern CD/radio head unit has been fitted beneath the dash, with 6x9 speakers in a panel in the rear footwell, but otherwise it’s all largely as Leyland intended – a careworn interior, but a charming one.
Inside the boot it’s all dry and solid, with a new battery (plus original battery cover), and a new tyre on the spare wheel, along with a selection of handy tools.
Russet Brown is a magnificent choice for a Clubby, evoking memories of sepia-tinted times gone by, and it’s all very well presented here. This Mini wears all of its original body panels except for the nearside front wing, which was replaced in 2006; interestingly, the only notable areas of corrosion are within this wing (presumably it wasn’t very well prepared before fitting), but this is no great hardship as, since it’s already been replaced, it wouldn’t alter the car’s overall originality to replace it again.
As one might expect from all-factory bodywork, there are a few age-related marks and wear here and there, most notably some blisters along the front valance, some paint flaked away along the lower edges of the sills, a small ding on the leading edge of the roof and a minor scratch on the bootlid. It’s all generally presentable though, and the all-original window glass (complete with period-etched registration numbers) is augmented with new window rubbers and replaced brightwork.
The original wheels bear a little surface corrosion but they’re solid; the front tyres are under a year old, and the rears are brand new.
The mechanical package within this car is superb, and testament to the passion and skills of the owner. Most notable is the high-compression MG Metro 1275 A-Series (engine number 12HF01 100742), which has been fully rebuilt – this unit offers 72bhp, as opposed to the 62bhp of the Mini-spec 1275, and the performance is vivid. The transmission has been swapped to manual, and while this is possible with the automatic’s subframe, the owner ultimately opted to swap to a manual subframe to allow clearance for the RC40 exhaust; this frame is galvanised, and fitted with hi-lo suspension. (The rear doesn’t wear hi-los, so it’s all at standard ride height.) The original parts have all been retained, and are available to the buyer if desired; this includes the subframe which has been zinc- and powder-coated, and the old UJ-type driveshafts which are hard to find these days. Also retained is the original automatic engine that came out of the vehicle!
A 7.5” front disc brake conversion sits neatly being the stock steel wheels. In the last year the car has received a new distributor, coil, radiator, fuel pump and fuel lines, steering rack gaiters, track rod ends and CV boots; the rear brakes have been serviced, and new brake and clutch master cylinders fitted, and the clutch slave has previously been changed. Furthermore, there’s a new inlet manifold, the carburettor has been rebuilt, and a K&N filter installed. The alternator and thermostat are recent, and a new-old-stock fuse box was sourced and fitted.
With all of this work carried out, we can confirm that this Mini is a superb runner with highly amusing performance.
The Mini has become such a legend over the decades that we’ve seen pretty much everything done to them: engine swaps, race builds, pickups, shorties, you name it. One thing that’s been particularly popular is the creation of Cooper replicas, which has been a perennially desirable move for any home-tuner who happens across a tidy shell. So it’s really quite endearing that this Clubman hasn’t succumbed to the usual modifications, and has instead had much of its originality and character preserved. That said, the mechanical package is a radical departure from how this 998cc auto left the factory; hidden within that magnificently brown shell is some surprising and thoroughly entertaining horsepower. Sure, there are cosmetic issues that a new keeper may wish to address, but the fundamentals of this Mini are rock solid. A kooky little sleeper that’s ready for fun.
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