I bought this 1976 ex-postal Leyland Mini Van for $1,400 and despite being involved with Mokes since 1982, this is the first Mini I've owned. As a freelance motoring photojournalist I wanted a car which stood out from the crowd, was easily identifiable and easy to maintain.
I had the intention of giving it a quick tart-up to use as an every-day work vehicle, and that is exactly what happened. There was no bare-metal respray or total restoration here. Just remove the copious amounts of surface rust, the structural rust had been sorted out before I got the car, give it a quick paint and proceed to run it into the ground.
After about six months' trouble-free motoring the engine self-destructed and, needing a quick fix, I transplanted the engine from my Moke. That engine, a standard 1100cc unit bought in 1991, gave excellent service, including three Camp Quality Capers (two in the Mini), a trek to Darwin, four trips to Brisbane, ten to Sydney, eight to Adelaide and plenty of local miles. It finally expired in 2002 and I bought a replacement engine and gearbox, of dubious parentage. That was rattly and whiney almost since the day I put it in, and finally the gearbox expired in mid-2004. The engine still seemed strong, though a bit rattly and smokey. Again, I needed the Mini on the road quickly for my work, so the freshly rebuilt engine in the Moke was pulled out, the diff changed, and slotted into the Mini (again). So far, so good. Now another engine is being rebuilt for the Moke.
The trailer is a more recent addition and was mostly complete when I bought it. All I've done is paint the roof white, put on the wheel arches, re-do the wiring, fit a couple of interior lights, clean up and paint the inside, and have the signage done. I recently carried 1,300 calendars from Melbourne to Sydney via Bathurst, 800 in the trailer and 500 in the Mini, without any problems. (Well, it did get a bit slow over the Blue Mountains). Because of the independent suspension the trailer tows brilliantly and, apart from the weight, you wouldn't know it was on there.
In November 2004 the car was given a quick, and relatively cheap, repaint and new signeage added for our new magazine, The Mini Experience. As with the Moke, you can read about my various adventures with the Mini in our magazine, which is available from most newsagents in Australia, or click here to order your subscription. Click any of the photos on this page to see them larger, and click the map at the top to see where I've been in the Mini since 1996.
Major Mini Trips
These are the major trips in the Mini and include two Camp Quality Capers.