The Mini was nothing more than a sketch on a napkin at one point. However, the man who penned that sketch was Sir Alec Issigonis, a man with automotive vision the likes of which have very rarely been rivalled. He started as an engineer at Humber before moving to Morris in 1936, where he was charged with the task of creating a new front suspension system for the Morris 10. However, that wasn’t enough to occupy his mind, and in the 1940s he worked on Project Mosquito, which would hit showrooms in 1948 as the revolutionary Morris Minor. But even that wasn’t enough. Issigonis had a vision for a small car, a groundbreaking machine that would show the motoring world what could be done. That car was, of course, the Mini. A car that became a motoring and pop culture icon.
When it comes to the Mini, or in the case, the Austin Seven, it’s common for people to go bananas for the Cooper models. And yes, the Cooper was indeed a formidable force, but we’re here to tell you that a humble ‘normal’ specification Mini is not something to be overlooked, as this beautiful Austin Seven version goes to show.
Yes, the Cooper offered a bit more bark, but the bones were the same throughout the range. The ‘wheel at each corner’ design, the tight suspension, the direct and responsive steering, the snappy gear-change – they weren’t Cooper exclusive features. Okay, so this one may only have the 850cc engine, but it’s enough to shove the featherweight Seven along, but not so much that you’ll bother the local speed cameras. Drive this and you’ll be absorbed by a raw, involving and deeply visceral driving experience that few other cars can offer.
The car we’re looking at here is up for £12,995, which is reasonable for a Seven in this condition. Being an old Austin, it has of course had work over the years. The interior has been re-trimmed, the floorpan has been replaced, as have the front wings, and the body has been given a respray in period correct Dove Grey. Mechanically, it has been given an overhaul including a full rebuild of that 850cc engine including a re-ground crankshaft, new dynamo, new water pump, new shells and new pistons. It’s a low mileage car at 65k, but the engine rebuild effectively makes it as good as new. This really is about as perfect as they come. Only one question remains; is it time for you to celebrate the motoring of the swinging sixties?