The Classic Austin Mini is a legend amongst enthusiast’s and the general public alike, there are not many p…
The Early Austin Mini Will Never Die
I was lucky enough, or unlucky enough (it depends how you liked or hated the Mini) to be able to work on the first mini models to come out. I was an apprentice mechanic at a Mini Dealers soon to become British Leyland garage in a small town called Batley in West Yorkshire UK.
These little cars were pretty basic, but proposed a challenge to the main mechanics, whenever they went wrong, especially the engine unit or the gearbox and clutch. Mechanics in those days learned on the job and the front wheel drive Austin Mini became a new challenge, because the technology was completely new in a small town garage.
These small Austin Mini cars were fitted with a 948cc engine in 1959 and I was told that the selling price was £399 for a brand new car, this was in 1959 and we did not get the Austin Mini dealership until five years later.
I can remember the problems we had with the cars leaking water and the ten inch wheels that were developed by Dunlop for the Mini were really bad to remove and fit, in those days we only had tyre levers and a hand gadget for breaking the beads. This was fine on the 14 inch A35 and A 40 wheels but the 10 ins Austin Mini wheels had a very deep rim and were almost impossible to break by hand, fortunately the first tyre fitting machines were starting to evolve and we took them to the local tyre dealers, who helped us out.
I remember the worse water leak was in the boot, where the battery was fitted. Over the years they tried out different drainage methods but the metal in the Mini Countryman boot always rotted in time. Mini modification companies sprung up all over the place, including companies that made fibre-glass body panels. These included a complete front end, because this was another bad area for rusting and rotting. Indeed i fitted a new front end to one of me first mini cars, but the damned thing used to flop about in the wind at any speed over twenty miles per hour?
Despite all its faults and draw backs I loved the Austin Mini and the first four cars that I owned were Minis, I used to try all sorts of modifications, but none ever made them go faster
It was a great experience to work on these cars and in my opinion they are still much loved all over the World.
Hi I would like to introduce myself. I have worked in the Garage and tyre and Battery business now for 40 years. I worked for a couple of national tyre companies before starting my first business. I now own a company here in the UK called Pellon Tyre and Auto-centre, and I am a keen blogger about anything to do with cars and their related products that will help my business.
See on weareclassiccars.com