RE: Mini Van: Spotted

Thursday 4th April

Mini Van: Spotted

It's even better than it looks



Hot vans are exceptionally easy to love. While performance SUVs often have a hard time justifying their existence, Transits fettled by M-Sport or VW Caddys that pull like Golf GTDs are celebrated as working class heroes. Stick a set of stripes and white wheels on a compact van and you’ll see plenty of jars raised in admiration as you roll past the local pub. Do the same in a dressed-up 4x4 and there’s more chance of lager hitting your windscreen.

Was the Mini Van the first original performance commercial vehicle? No, almost certainly not, but the way this classic load-lugger was seen as a fun but capable workhorse suggests it might have provided an appetite for the breed. Here we had an extended, big-booted version of the Austin Mini, which acted as a low-cost steed for the working man that was more modern and better built than the Morris van. And it was a hoot to hammer down country lanes in.


It looked good, too. At the van’s launch in 1960, the Mini was already at the height of fashion, so naturally the van became a fashionable commercial choice. Its working status also meant it didn’t require vehicle tax, which might have helped push sales up and beyond the half a million mark during the Mini Van’s production life, which ran all the way up to 1983.

Yet the love for the old Mini Van continues; so much so that we doubt Sir Alec Issigonis himself could have imagined the humble van would be so adored today. Take today’s Spotted, which shows exactly how strong the passion for the commercial model remains, because the previous owner has spent almost £45k on enhancing and modifying it. And while the bill might make you wince, we reckon the finished product is utterly brilliant – and, thankfully for its next custodian, on sale for a fraction of that project figure.


The work done is second to none. For starters, the original 1.0-litre engine has been swapped for a bored-out 1,275cc motor, with a new capacity of 1,380cc. As part of the motor’s upgrades, a higher performance cam shaft, five-port head and fuel injection system have been fitted. Plus the engine’s now mated to a fully rebuilt, straight cut gearbox, which might make low-speed operation a nightmare but who cares when it makes a whining sound like Paddy Hopkirk’s Monte winner.

There’s more, too. Drive through the front axle is handled by a Quaife LSD, while braking is done with four-pot calipers up front and uprated MiniFin drums at the back, with uprated lines and lots more race-spec parts in between. The result is a Mini Van with a Cooper S-beating mechanical setup. The exterior and interior has, of course, been suitably enhanced to match, with deep dish Minilite wheels and an all-black body, and Cobra Club sport seats with tartan fabric inside. In the back, there’s a, erm, mattress. Supposedly it’s for the dog.

So yes, at £16,450 it ain’t cheap, especially for a Mini Van. But by golly is it cool. Worth the money? You decide…

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Author
Discussion

Water Fairy

Original Poster:

2,804 posts

95 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
I'm struggling to see where 45k has gone on that tbh, as much as i like it.

85Carrera

1,786 posts

177 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
Does seem rather a lot.

Plus I’m not interested in cars from dealers who cover up the registration number so you can’t check the MOT history ...

J4CKO

26,868 posts

140 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
Its sort of ok now, but I remember my dad pondering getting my mum one when we were kids and it to us then was almost as tragic as my mates dads VW Camper in toxic sludge green, which is now apparently cool, cant see that myself but can sort of see with this.

Kolbenkopp

1,603 posts

91 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
Really love these things, always wanted one. But they have always felt to cost a bit much for what you get.

This one here does not seem _that_ expensive in context though? Maybe I'm looking at the wrong sites, but to get something decent looking I think 10k GBP is pretty much needed. Would love to be proven wrong tho...


DoctorX

4,298 posts

107 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
There’s something very cool about a minivan. Even the recent one was a desirable thing, not seen many around though.
Advertisement

grumpy52

3,786 posts

106 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
We are a bit spoilt for minivans locally , and proper minis of all sorts .
A local HGV mechanic has a concourse show winning one , my mate the classic restorer has a customer with a 17000 mile original grey model .
I also know a couple of people who are mini specialist restorers or race preppers .
It was a joyful thing to have a minivan to romp about the lanes of Bedfordshire when I was a teenager. The one I got to use was an ex AA vehicle that we always managed to find an excuse not to sell .

donkmeister

1,496 posts

40 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
85Carrera said:
Does seem rather a lot.

Plus I’m not interested in cars from dealers who cover up the registration number so you can’t check the MOT history ...
VLD 764X

(when I'm buying cars I also like to be able to check the MOT history online before making the trek to see it smile )

Water Fairy

Original Poster:

2,804 posts

95 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
My brother had one of these which was written off when an uninsured MK2 Escort hit him,and I remember sitting in the back of a friend of a friend's, central for perfect weight distribution as we went from Cromford to Cromford via Birchover one evening as yoofs. Bloody rapid and I was a little concerned to say the least!

MDMA .

4,609 posts

41 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
There was a better one at 3 Sisters retro day the other year.






annodomini2

5,736 posts

191 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
Ad link going to a jeep article

annodomini2

5,736 posts

191 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
Still prefer a pickup, £16.5k is strong money for a van, especially a 95.

gazza285

4,824 posts

148 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
My old man had one. The rear door seals were there, just not very good, and it used to fill up with proper ‘70s exhaust fumes. It had a spinning roof vent that had the effect of depressurising the cab, so drawing the fumes through the door seals. Sliding open a door window just accelerated the problem.

Who me ?

6,722 posts

152 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
I had a van in the early 79's- an H reg Mini ( first of the brand to sport Mini on the badge). 1000 cc. It was noisy in the back, so it got fitted with polystyrene bits, with a carpet on top. Dash got a Formica laminate with a set of oil pressure and ammeter gauges. Rear exhaust got the old Hoover treatment to stop the fumes coming in the rear doors. Windscreen washers- it got an upgrade from a Moggy 1000 -electric.

rallycross

9,766 posts

177 months

Thursday 4th April
quotequote all
My dad used to race Mini's so he had various tuned van's, pick ups and estates, back in the day....


Turbobanana

1,287 posts

141 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
85Carrera said:
Does seem rather a lot.

Plus I’m not interested in cars from dealers who cover up the registration number so you can’t check the MOT history ...
There's so little of the original left it's probably irrelevant anyway.

IIRC these were the cheapest new vehicles in the UK in the sixties, due to their exemption from Purchase Tax (being a commercial), so all the young lads bought them. I suspect plenty of them had mattresses in the back wink

cookie1600

1,111 posts

101 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
£45k spent?? Was there a glass door on the place that did that?

T-195

288 posts

1 month

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Totally bonkers mate!


soad

29,709 posts

116 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
annodomini2 said:
Ad link going to a jeep article
Use this: https://www.dukeoflondon.co.uk/product-page/1981-a...

Hilts

3,974 posts

222 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Looks great, just need to get rid of the Jimmy Savile mattress.

T-195

288 posts

1 month

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Hilts said:
Looks great
Do you think it's worth £45k?