Growing up in England, Andy was into Minis from a fairly young age, and trained in car body restoration - something that always comes in handy for a Mini owner.
In 1990 he wanted more of a challenge and headed to Australia for a twelve-month working holiday. He went to Adelaide because the Grand Prix was still based there, and he knew there was a strong restoration industry in the city. He soon landed a job with a classic car restorer, where he worked for six months before heading off on the holiday part of his trip.
“I wanted to travel for six months around Australia and everyone was telling me to buy myself an old Holden, because parts were apparently everywhere”, he explains. “I didn’t know anything about those Holden things, but I did know Minis. The Moke seemed like an interesting vehicle, and having Minis I knew my way around them. Very basic, and economical.”
“I found my yellow Moke in the local Trading Post, and as soon as I got enough money I went to see it. It had these huge wheels, with 205 tyres, and no roof. I took it for a drive and could see all the joints and bearings were loose, but the money was about right. I took it away, then spent the days working my normal job and the nights fixing up the Moke, on a real tight budget.”
“I frightened myself to death when I made a hood, because when I put the roof on suddenly I could hear every mechanical problem with the car.”
“There was a nasty knocking noise at about 3,500 revs. I changed the timing chain, water pump, etc, and it was still there. So, I thrashed it through the Adelaide Hills and it was so frustrating because I thought if I brake it then I’ve got to fix it, but it never broke.”
“Then a mechanic I worked with said if I was going to do the trip I was planning, then I’d better pull it apart and find out what’s wrong with it. I took it apart, and it had broken rings, in three out of four pots. That’s what was rattling away, but it never gave up.”
After having the engine rebuilt, Andy headed off to Queensland, where he planned on driving as far North as he could, making it to Cooktown. “I was up there for Christmas and then a cyclone came through and we were all marooned. We spent about six weeks in Cooktown. Then there was a lull in the weather, just after Christmas, and I went for it. There was mud flying everywhere. I went to Charters Towers and had to go all the way out to Cloncurry and come around through Longreach because all the roads inland were completely washed out. You couldn’t get around the coast or anything.”
He stayed in Brisbane with friends until his Visa ran out and he had to head back to England, but he didn’t want to leave the Moke behind. “It cost me about $1,400 to take it home. I put it in a container and six and half weeks later it got to England. As long as you didn’t sell it for six months you didn’t pay any import duty. There were no extra charges.”
Andy used the Moke extensively in the UK and Europe over the next three years, but the Aussie weather was calling him back.
In 1994 he emigrated to Australia and brought the Moke back with him. “It was a nightmare bringing it back into this country. It cost me about £700 to get it out of the UK, then when I got it here they were trying to charge me import duty on a car that was already registered here. It was supposed to take six and a half weeks, but it didn’t get here for over ten. A drive shaft was broken and the windscreen was broken.”
“ I paid in London something like £60 ($130) to have it steam cleaned, then when it got here they said it wasn’t clean enough, and it cost me $160 to have it cleaned again. It wasn’t any better, there was still bulldust from when I was over here the first time.”
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>