Sentiment is an irrational emotion, that can prove to be very expensive. This was the case with importing my much-loved 1997 Rover Mini Cooper.
The decision to move to Australia was quite easy. My fiancé, Jodi, came from Sydney and had had enough of the U.K. I wanted a better life; one that included my beer to be cold and my weather warm – the mirror opposite to what I was used to.
Lists were written for what was coming with us to Australia, and without doubt the most troublesome would prove to be the Mini.
We bought it in 2004 as a John Cooper-modified Rover MPi. Over the years, Jodi and I have modified it further, by fitting a stonking set of 10” MB split rim wheels, and Wood and Pickett flares.
The rear end has benefited from a MK1 lamp conversion and a matching boot lid, while the front received a Mk1 Austin grille, moustache and Cooper-type bumper. The final body mod was an electric Webasto sunroof; fitted with the Aussie heat in mind.
Don’t worry, no cows were sacrificed for the interior trim, but half a forest had to come down for all the timber appointments.
As mentioned, under the bonnet is a John Cooper S Works conversion, and a little more. The conversion mainly involved the top end of the engine, but over the years we have fitted a cross-pin differential with a shorter ratio (after I knackered the original drag racing), a fast road camshaft fitted by tuning legend and all round great bloke, Bill Richards, and a K&N induction kit.
The chassis has been tweaked too, with a fully adjustable front end and fixed camber brackets at the rear. The four-pot callipers and vented discs pull it to a halt beautifully.
So, you see, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to part with the Mini, as I have lavished so much money, love and care on it.
A quick browse on the Internet found the Australian Government website page for importing your vehicle. Having downloaded and printed the originally-titled Importing Vehicles to Australia – Information Brochure (VSB10) at work – well, there were 31 pages – I took it home, read three pages, and promptly fell asleep.
I had to speak to somebody who had been here before, rather than trudge through inane Government bureaucracy. Watto put me in contact with Rover Cooper owner Bob Goudge, in Victoria. Hurrah! Somebody who’d been there, done that and written about it in plain non-government speak.
Bob’s email explained the important points, that I must have owned the car for over twelve months, and what paperwork would satisfy the lovely people at The Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 21 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>30</plumshop> <plumshop>29</plumshop>