Where Are They?
We are always on the lookout for famous and interesting Minis of old. Sometimes we get lucky, as many of our features would not be possible without turning up a rare car previously thought to have disappeared.
Occasionally, though, we are stumped by something that just defies all our efforts to track it down. Here are some of those, that we need your help to find information about. Some of the cars might still exist out there, somewhere. Others may be long gone, but you, a friend or a family member may remember something about them. If you can help, we’d love to hear from you.
Not The Italian Job
The 1969 movie classic, The Italian Job, is widely regarded as the best Mini movie ever made and its success at the box office no doubt inspired many others to try and reproduce those amazing stunts.
Which may explain these publicity stills from an obscure 1970 Australian movie, The Demonstrator. It was produced by Freeman Fishburn International and according to the National Film and Sound Archive is one of only a handful of movies filmed entirely in the ACT. The movie apparently centres around the activities of some political demonstrators in the Nation’s capital.
Unfortunately, NFSA does not hold a copy of the film, although they do have some quite intriguing news footage taken during the filming outside the old Parliament House. Has anyone ever seen this movie? Does a copy of it still exist anywhere?
This sequence was apparently filmed on a back road near Canberra, featuring a Mini Van and a Vauxhall Victor that looks to have been rescued from a wrecker’s yard.
The inevitable happens, but anyone watching the film would have been forewarned by the ramp clearly visible on the bridge in the first frame.
Still, it was a pretty impressive stunt for the time and we suspect that the poor old Mini Van may still be somewhere down the bottom of that river.
The registration of the Mini appears to be DYZ 831, but that is not likely to be any help as the rego is probably as fake as the bakery sign on the side.
Back in November 1998, I attended the Victorian Mini Club’s annual show at Elwood Beach.
Among the Minis on display was this unusual lime green Traveller, which had originally been white. I was told by the owner that it was one of about half a dozen or so that had been brought to Australia for use by the wives of British Consular officials in about 1963.
This particular car had apparently been painted green at the time, because the wife it was allocated to didn’t like plain white. If true, it is an interesting story. Victorian registration at the time of the photo was JEA 726, which would be mid-1960s.
As we detailed in Issue 11, around one in seven Cooper S were used by the police in New South Wales, and a handful used by police in other states.
It is not surprising, then, that these cars turn up from time to time. However, when we find specific photos of police cars, it makes us wonder if those particular cars are still out there.
The above photo, taken at the rear of the Bathurst police station in the mid or late 1960s is one example. The registration numbers on the Minis are: ENO 610; ETC 376; and ETD 408. NSW Police Minis were usually sold after 30,000 miles, with all police equipment removed.
The Thin Blue Line
Although NSW Police used over 1,000 Cooper S - and around 95 Clubman GTs - Victoria Police didn’t take to the car.
Only two Cooper S were used for long-term tests from August 1967 to October 1968.
These were registered JUH 301 and JUH 302 and were painted Powder Blue before delivery from Kellow Falkiner on 9 August.
JUH 302 was involved in a crash - apparently running under the back of a truck - although damage doesn’t appear to be too serious, judging by the attached photo.
The two Minis were traded into Melford Motors on 21 October 1968, on a pair of automatic V8 Ford Falcons. JUH 301 was traded for $1,088.75, while JUH 302 was worth $988.75.
There were two other Cooper S tested by the Victoria Police, though for much shorter periods.
The first was a demonstrator from Peter Manton Motors, which The Age motoring writer, Chris De Fraga, and Police First Constable Fred Sutherland, from the Mobile Traffic Section, borrowed for an unofficial test through Melbourne’s suburbs.
Unfortunately, nothing else is known about this Cooper S at this time, other than Const. Sutherland considered it might be suitable for pursuit work in suburban areas, where larger cars would be at a disadvantage.
However, we recently came across a short story in The Age, from 20 July 1966, which showed that another Cooper S, registered JNE 774, was used for a testing over “a few weeks”.
Inspector T Hannabery, who was supervising the test, suggested that the car - the smallest car ever tested by Victoria Police, according to the paper - “could be an asset to city traffic police”.
A few years ago I heard that a female member of the Mobile Tradition Unit of the Victoria Police Historical Society (the group that preserves former police vehicles) owned an ex-police Mini.
Sadly, the trail went cold and I have never been able to get any more information about if that is the case and if so, which Mini it is.
We are still looking.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 29 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>52</plumshop> <plumshop>53</plumshop>