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1988 Austin Mini City E Auto

Guide Price: £5,000 - £8,000


Very low mileage
﹒Excellent condition mechanically
﹒Light restoration
﹒Automatic transmission
﹒Ready to drive away

The Background

The Mini is widely – and rightly – regarded as one of the icons of British pop culture of the 1960s, as well as of British automotive engineering. Originally designed by Sir Alec Issigonis in the mid 1950s (he of Morris Minor fame), the first Mini was launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959. It used the same A-series four-cylinder engine as the Minor but was arranged transversely and powered the front wheels through a transmission mounted directly to the bottom of the engine. This powerplant was fitted in a small, two-door body that, thanks to the compact engine and transmission and front-wheel drive layout, allowed surprisingly large interior space. 

Suspension was based on solid rubber cones acting as the spring with conventional dampers which gave the diminutive car exceptional handling and, combined with a low centre of gravity and small, ten-inch wheels with specially developed tyres, many likened it to driving a kart. 

The bodyshell was basic; a monocoque design with external seams and fastenings for doors, for example and as the car’s life went on, the engine, transmission and front suspension were eventually mounted to one complete subframe unit and the rear suspension and brakes, another. This ‘modular’ approach paved the way for several Mini-based specials, such as the Mini Marcos, using the Mini’s front and rear subframes mounted in a fibreglass bodyshell. 

In 1961 it was renamed the Austin Mini and in 1964, the rubber suspension was replaced with BMC’s hydroelastic system, though the rubber returned in 1971 and stayed until the original vehicle’s lifecycle ended in 2000. In its first incarnation, it used either a four-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission option and the performance versions – the Cooper and the Cooper S – were introduced, having been modified by John Cooper for more power and better braking. 

The car’s superb handling led to it being adopted for various forms of motorsport, including rallying, where it famously won the Rallye Monte Carlo four years on the trot, from 1964 to 1967 though Paddy Hopkirk’s car was disqualified in 1966 for headlight irregularities.  

The car went through various facelifts and updates throughout its life but it remained fundamentally the same; the front end was revised and a squarer version, the Clubman, introduced in 1969. Later, the Cooper models were phased out and replaced with 1275GT versions, using a larger-capacity A-Series engine. 

It was originally supposed to be phased out in the early 1990s and replaced by the Metro but its popularity was so strong that Austin Rover (as was) decided to keep producing it indefinitely. Engines gradually grew bigger, to 1300cc and the carburettor was replaced with fuel injection and bodies became more and more modern with plastic wheel-arch covers, disc brakes and eventually, an airbag was introduced. 

By 2000, then-owner BMW decided to streamline its business and dispose of the model. By the time the last car rolled off the line, more than 5 million Minis had been produced and sold, making it one of motoring’s most iconic legends.

The History 

This car was registered in 1988 and is a late example of a Mark V Mini. It s the City E variant, using an economy-focussed version of the 1000cc engine from the Metro HLE and was purchased by the owner as a project to save it from being scrapped. It’s MoT history confirms is had been in regular use and was in what can best be described as a sorry state when he took charge of it in mid-2020. 

The owner spent the second half of 2020 carrying out a light restoration programme on the car, replacing rusted metal and attending to the car’s mechanics. He is now presenting it for sale to allow him to embark on another project with somewhat greater performance.

The Paperwork

The vehicle naturally comes with its V5 registration document in the current owner’s name and a comprehensive array of service and parts paperwork, including throughout its life up to the work carried out by the owner. There is also a workshop manual to accompany the vehicle. 

The Interior

The interior of the car is in very nice, solid and honest condition and is largely in the same condition as it was when the owner took the car on, albeit with a deep clean. He confirms there is a small tear in the vinyl on the driver’s door panel but this is small and not obvious. One of the seams on the driver’s seat appears to have come apart in the photographs but again, the seller confirms that he will have this attended to before the end of the auction. The upholstery on the rear of the front passenger seat appears to have dropped but there does not appear to be any damage, the owner suggesting it just needs re-attaching. 

The carpet is in good condition, showing some slight signs of wear and a rust mark where the rear support of the front seats (which tip forward to access to the rear seats) rests. However, the owner feels that a good clean will remove the majority of the staining. 

There is slight overspray of sealer on the edge of the front-seat crossmember where the outer sill was replaced but it could easily be covered with some fresh body-coloured paint. 

The dashboard appears in nice condition, the speedometer and combined fuel level/coolant temperature gauge seemingly unmarked and confirming the super-low mileage. The owner confirms that all the gauges and electrical systems work as they should, including the heated rear window and the interior heater. There is no radio fitted though there is an aperture ready for one, as well as wiring to suit, including a new antenna. 

The car is fitted with a thick-rimmed steering wheel giving it a sporty feel and the four-speed automatic transmission shifter shows no ‘Park’ position – ahead of Neutral is Reverse and behind, manual-selection positions for gears 1, 2, 3 and finally, fully-automatic Drive. 

The Exterior

The exterior of the car matches that of the interior; honest and solid and entirely ready for use. The red paint is deep and shines well, with only a very few stone chips at the front as evidence of its age. There do not appear to be any areas of rust forming on the outside and no evidence of major accident damage or repair. 

The owner confirm that he had the sills and door aperture steps on both sides of the car professionally replaced, as these were showing signs of corrosion and had caused a previous MoT fail. He also attended to several other areas of rust on the car’s body, including the boot floor and the battery tray (common rust points), the inner doorstep panels and the inner floor panels. A fresh coat of underseal was applied to the underside once all the welding had been carried out. 

The car already had the characteristic Cooper-style white roof and bonnet stripes but the latter were showing signs of age-related damage so the owner had new ones made in modern vinyl and applied. The car’s brightwork – the front grille, headlight surrounds and bumper and the rear bumper as well as the badges, are all in very nice condition, showing minor scratches but no evidence of corrosion. 

The car is fitted with four Minilite 12-inch wheels – arguably the wheels which most suit the small car - and they are fitted with four very good tyres that are ready for use. There is no spare wheel with the car. 

The car is also presented with a period roofrack, in aluminium with wooden slats and a front nudge bar, compete with two additional driving lights to compliment the ‘Wipac’ lights fitted to the front bumper. Neither are currently fitted to the car. 

The Mechanicals 

The owner has carried out a full mechanical service on the engine, including new spark plugs and fluids and states that the single SU carburettor was rebuilt shortly prior to him acquiring the car. The engine starts promptly – with a little choke in cold conditions – and settles to an even idle with no untoward noises or smoking. The transmission operates smoothly in all four gears and the car is, according to the owner, very nice to drive. 

It maintains its rubber cone suspension and front disc brakes with rear drums, the owner confirming that he fitted new discs, calipers and pads at the front while the previous owner had recently fitted new drums and shoes. The car has also benefitted from new track rod ends, CV joint boots, ball joints and a brake hose. 

The car is presented with a fresh MoT showing three advisories. However, the owner confirms that he has also remedied these since the test was carried out shortly before Christmas 2020. The car also benefits from a new exhaust system.

The Appeal

There’s just something about a Mini. It doesn't matter if you think about Mr Bean’s yellow-and-black example, Paddy Hopkirk’s sliding rally car or perhaps the three most famous Minis – or even, cars in general – used for the getaway in The Italian Job; a Mini puts a smile on your face. 

Anyone who has driven one knows all about smiles – they are incredibly easy cars to drive and have fun in. They will hold four adults (though those in the back might find part of themselves in those enormous side pockets) and will always generate a reaction. They look… just right, with a wheel in each corner and the classic ‘Bulldog’ shoulder-forward stance. They’re ready for anything – just search ‘Goliath beats David at Revival 2013’ to see a Cooper S hassling a Ford Galaxie 500 through the bends at the Goodwood Revival. 

While this car is an automatic example, it's still a Mini that’s ready to go; it's still got that look and feel and it still gets you membership to the Self Perseveration Society. 

Hang on a minute; it's a great idea…

** The photos in this listing have been provided to us by the seller **

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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1988
  • Make Austin
  • Model Mini City E Auto
  • Colour Red
  • Odometer 39,782 Miles
  • Engine size 1098
  • Location Tyne and Wear
Bidding history
14 bids from 7 bidders
  • commodi•••• £4,850 08/02/21
  • rogers.•••• £4,700 08/02/21
  • jgill25•••• £4,500 07/02/21
  • N9aok £4,200 07/02/21
  • Steve s•••• £4,100 06/02/21
  • Stuart £4,000 06/02/21
  • Steve s•••• £3,299 06/02/21
  • JC1964 £3,199 05/02/21
  • Steve s•••• £3,099 03/02/21
  • jgill25•••• £2,999 03/02/21

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