What do you do if you’re a builder soon to retire and you have a passion for Minis? Doug Martin had the answer – you build a really big shed.
Actually, Doug built two big sheds. One to run a mini storage business, the other to store his Minis.
Doug is not your stereotypical Mini collector – if there is such a thing. He didn’t grow up with Minis. In fact, growing up he was a Ford Man. “I had Cortinas, Capris and Ford utes”, he recalls.
That all changed in 1982, when he bought a used light blue Mini Van as a work runabout. The trusty Van was taken off the road in 1989 but Doug had become quite attached to it, so set about fixing it up. He added wheel arch flares, had it painted yellow, and fitted some chrome mirrors and a set of Performance Superlite wheels.
And that was pretty well it until 2003, as Doug explains. “Then another guy came up with one, an old Mini Van in Young, and asked if I was interested. So I thought I’d have a look and for $700 I bought the one that’s now the orange Van and did it up from scratch.”
Doug readily admits that working on the cars is not his thing and that most of the work is done by professionals. “I like to pick them up finished, or close to it, because it’s so much cheaper. The orange one was taken right back and done up from scratch and ended up costing us $14,000. We always get people to do the work. I’m not that way inclined. But, you don’t do it to sell them, because you’d never get that back.”
It was around this time that Tim Peachey in Wagga Wagga – only about an hour from Doug’s place at Tumut – was setting up the Riverina chapter of the NSW Mini Car Club.
“I went to their first show’n’shine. The rest is history”, Doug laughs. “I got hooked on it. There was a ute for sale, which was a converted Van. I always loved the ute. We picked that up in December of that year (2004).”
By now, you might be sensing a bit of a theme. What Doug doesn’t have in his collection is a saloon. No Cooper or Cooper S. No Mini K or De Luxe. “I prefer the variants, as you probably noticed”, he explains. “There’s no standard cars. One day I’ll get a saloon, but I’m not in a hurry for that. There’s plenty of them around.”
And so the variants kept coming.
The Convertible arrived in April 2005; a Moke Californian in June 2007; a MkIII Wolseley Hornet in March 2009; the Mini Semi-trailer in September the same year; the wheelchair Mini in October 2010 and the high-top Mini Van in April 2011. The latest, a rare Midas Bronze – one of only 380 made and the only one in the country – arrived in December 2011.
“The Wolseley came from Doug Linklater, in Sydney. It had done 27,000 miles from new. It’s done 33,000 now. Mechanically, it’s never had anything done to it. When we got it we upgraded the upholstery and the carpets, and new hood linings we imported. The seats were done in Wagga, but everything else was imported from England, so it’s back to scratch. It’s a beautiful car to drive. We took it to Tassie when 15 Minis went from the club in 2010. We had a wonderful time. We did 3,500km, from when we left here to when we got back. 12 days. It was a top group of people, a top trip.”
The semi-trailer is perhaps the most unusual of his collection, and came from Geelong, Victoria. When Doug got it there was a tray on the back, but that has been removed and a turntable fitted so the Mini really is a little semi-trailer. Truck air horns, an overhead console with CB radio and CD player, massive bulbar (for a Mini), truck mirrors, vertical exhaust stacks, side steps, clearance lights and twin rear axles with dual wheels make the Mini fit its new role.
The blue wheelchair Mini is another imported rarity, and also likely to be the only one of its kind in the country. Not surprisingly, Doug calls that car his Popemobile.
There are other similar Minis, made in South Australia, but we don’t know of any other UK-built ones here. This Mini and the Australian versions were to form the basis of a feature we intended bringing you a year ago, but information about their history has been slow in coming. We will have the full story fairly soon, though, so keep an eye out for more details about Doug’s car then.
The high-top Van was a conversion available through BMC, but built by Canopy Industries. This particular example is thought to be a prototype, with many unusual features. These include having the front part of the rear load bay cut out to take a seat, rear side parcel bins from a saloon, enclosed front section and it originally had a horizontally split tailgate like on a Holden panel van.
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