Introduced by BMC in 1959 and designed by Alec Issigonis against the backdrop of the Suez fuel crisis, the Mini was originally envisaged as a fuel-sipping city car to rival Fiat’s 500.
While the four-cylinder A-series engine was a conventional unit, the way Issigonis mounted it in the car was anything but traditional. By spinning the engine through 90 degrees, it could be mounted transversely in the car, while the gearbox was nestled beneath the cylinders in the sump. Drive to the front wheels and a side-mounted radiator made the drivetrain incredibly compact and this clever packaging set a template that is still employed by modern cars today.
The innovation didn’t stop with the drivetrain, with suspension guru Alex Moulton employed to design an ultra-compact suspension system that employed rubber cones in place of conventional springs. External bodywork seams helped further maximise occupant space, with the result being that the Mini could comfortably accommodate four adults.
But it was the grin-inducing handling of the cheeky little Mini that made it a sales hit and if you’ve never experienced the joyful way a classic Mini can scoot around a corner, you don’t know what you’re missing!
The Mini was continually updated during its lifespan with this 1988 model being a Mark V version in Mayfair specification. These ran from 1982 to 1996 and were based on the Mini City but with additional plastic arch trims, ‘Mayfair’ decals, a luxurious velour interior with headrests, a sports three-spoke steering wheel, 12-inch steel wheels (disc braked on the front), opening rear side windows, a boot liner and even a tachometer.
First registered on 1 August 1988, this Mayfair was originally owned by a husband and wife who bought it from new and covered a mere 17,000 miles in it. Two previous owners are listed on the V5C log book and it was thought to have been first used around Farnham in Hampshire and driven very little by the female owner. MoT records show it covered just 30 miles between 2007 and 2012, when it was offered for sale via the South Western Vehicle Auctions of Poole, possibly as probate. It was sold on the 27 January 2012, with the auction detailing it as having 17,000 miles.
Black and White Cars of Bournemouth then offered the car for sale, who stated it had full service history and just two family owners.
It was also road-tested at 17,771 miles in the 9 January 2013 edition of Classic Car Weekly who noted that the ‘998cc powerplant feels tight and pulls eagerly, while the automatic gearbox is pleasingly responsive.’
After preparing the vehicle for sale (the records show it needed a rear silencer, fresh brake pads and hoses), in February 2014 it was bought from Black and White Cars by the current owner who lived in Cornwall at the time. He’d been looking for a specific blue colour of Mini to match his other classic vehicles, which also included a Jaguar. The Mini was garaged and used as a runaround during the summer months.
In 2017 it was treated to restoration work by Osbournes of Truro, who replaced the front and rear wings. The sills appear to be original. The vehicle was repainted externally in the original colour and the rear ‘automatic’ and ‘mini’ badging removed, while the original grey bumpers, that were showing traces of corrosion, were replaced. Chromed bumpers replace the originals, while the side trim and wheelarch trims were also updated with matching items. Equally, the original grille, wiper arms and mirrors have been treated to chromed items.
In 2019 the current owner moved to Leicester and used the car sparingly as he has several other vehicles. When not in use, the Mini was garaged. The current odometer reading is just 18,776 miles and we can confirm the Mini still feels as zippy as when Classic Car Weekly tested it!
While the retailer who sold the car in 2014 also included the original full service history, the current owner mislaid it in a subsequent house-move, but various receipts confirm the vehicle’s remarkably low mileage, while the interior condition speaks for itself.
MoT records shows that the mileage was 17,630 in July 2006, 17,720 in July 2007, covering just 30 miles up to January 2012 and rising to 17,777 when it was retested in February 2014. The current MoT is valid until 17 June 2022.
It’s rare to find a Mini that has its original interior, let alone one in such excellent condition. Best of all it is unmodified. The Grey Chalkstripe velour seating trim is completely unmarked, with the driver’s seat looking like it’s barely been sat in and the passenger front seat and rear bench seat are in near-museum quality condition. Thanks to the Mayfair specification, the headrests are trimmed in matching velour and the seat gains rake adjustment – something that the lower spec City models lacked.
Pleasingly, the original push button Philips Car Receiver, which offers six presets for medium and long wave reception, is still in place and links to a single speaker mounted on the rear parcel shelf. No aftermarket speakers have sullied the passenger or driver doorcards and these are in exceptional condition and free-from marks and tears. The manual window windows hark back to a simpler time, while the handy door bins were another Mayfair extra.
As part of the Mayfair specification, there are opening side windows in the rear of the car, with the bench seat benefiting from two fixed lap belts and deep storage pockets at either end of the bench.
Unusually for a Mini of this era, the Mayfair dash binnacle boasts a tachometer, with the redline indicated at a rather heady 5,800rpm. All three dash instruments are in first-rate condition with the plastic bezels and glass appearing unmarked and free-from holes, cracks or marks.
A full-width parcel shelf, covered in grey vinyl bridges the cab flaring out in the centre to house switchgear for the brake system test circuit, heated rear screen, hazard warning lights and the rear foglight. The choke control for the SU carb is to the left of the the switches, with the heater activation control being to the right. Controls for air direction and fan speed are below. No additional switches have been added and it all appears to be as it left the factory.
Minor traces of wear on the throttle and brake pedals are commensurate with the mileage, while the automatic gear lever has a little patination on it but still clearly indicates D,3,2,1,N and R in white digits. The grey carpeting appears to be original and in excellent condition, with only faint traces of discolouration to indicate that it has been parked in the sun at some point.
The three-spoked sports steering wheel is also original and still retains its original factory texture, while the ignition lock shroud and stalks appear in fine fettle. Equally, the headlining is intact, largely unmarked and free from tears.
The paintwork has been refreshed a few years ago and the car is still very presentable and the Azure Blue metallic painwork gleams in the sunlight.
Unlike many other Minis of this age, it still retains it’s original sills and the underside looks in original condition. Many of the original factory spot welds are still in place and the boot floor is in remarkable condition. Peeling back the footwell carpets didn’t reveal anything untoward.
The four 145/70 R12 Constancy LY166 tyres were fitted in May 2017 and still have ample tread left. The original steel wheels and plastic wheeltrims are still in place, with only minor marks on the wheeltrims. The spare wheel is shod with a Pirelli Cinturato tyre that could actually be one of the factory-supplied tyres.
Whether to add to the vehicles incredibly low mileage and use it as a weekend fun car for visiting shows, or preserve it with a concours makeover, will be a tough choice for the new owner, but it’ll be fun deciding!
The 998cc A-Plus series engine sparks up instantly and settles down a smooth even idle breathing through an easy-to-service SU carburettor. The distributor has been sensibly upgraded with a Luminition ignition system that replaces the old mechanical points with fuss-free modern electronic ignition - no more weekends wasted messing about with feeler gauges!
The AP four-speed automatic gearbox, shifts smoothly into gear and proved surprisingly swift, responding almost instantly to a prod of throttle. With 40bhp on tap, and a curbweight of just 675kg, performance should be energetic, but that’s always been the appeal of the Mini – it makes brilliant use of it’s modest power. Featherweight fun for sure.
Most people can remember a childhood that includes being driven in a Mini at some point, but if you’ve never driven one for yourself then you really should include it on your car bucket list. They’re a shining example of the joy of low weight, simple mechanics and frill-free fun. Thanks to rubber-cone suspension they corner with exuberance and feel like a cheeky little terrier nipping at the heels of more powerful modern machinery.
If you’ve ever witnessed the racing Mini Coopers worrying the huge V8-powered Ford Galaxies on the historic race scene – and often beating them – you’ll appreciate how capable the Mini is. It’s 31 international rally wins, four championships and famous Monte Carlo victories were won for good reason.
It's their charisma and fun drive that has ensured the Minis place in history and even today, their lightweight darty handling allows them to keep pace with modern traffic and still be a brilliant town car that can be slotted into the smallest of spaces. Issigonis would be proud that his creation is still relevant today.
Unspoilt Minis with their original interior are getting increasingly hard to find, let alone ones with less than 19,000 miles on the clock, so this is clearly not a car to miss.
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