By Mike Peake
My daughter recently purchased a 2013 ice blue Mini One convertible and it set me thinking about when we bought Mrs FB’s first car which was also a blue Mini. This one was of the British Leyland variety with the 1000cc engine and from 1975. I thought I’d share these thoughts with you.
1988. I’m 19, fit and handsome. Anita is 18 and incredibly beautiful. Sophie wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes. It was the middle of winter.
2018. I’m 49, fat and balding. Anita Isn’t 18 anymore but is still incredibly beautiful. (Yeah, I know but give me a break! She might read this!) Sophie is 22 and incredibly beautiful. It was late spring.
1988 Anita needed a car to get her from the Nurses home to the hospital in London as we didn’t want her walking late at night before or after shifts.
2018 .It is my eldest daughters turn to buy her 1st car for commuting to work and because she wants to.
1988. Anita decided she wanted a Mini. She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around London and she’d look really cool, and it had to be blue.
2018. Sophie decided she wanted a Mini (yes, the BMW one). She’d never driven one but decided she really liked them and it would be ideal for zooming in and out and around Swindon and she’d look really cool, and it had to be ice blue.
1988. Budget extremely limited as paying rent and living in London on a student Nurse wage. In fact, our 1st Pram cost more than we spent on this car.
2018. Budget not quite so limited as living with Mum and Dad and able to put almost entire salary into saving up for a car.
1988. Scoured classified advertisements in local paper and Autotrader when they came out on Thursdays.
2018. Set notifications on eBay to notify me when a car that matches my criteria is listed. Ask Local Mini dealership about a car on the forecourt. It was already sold but said he’d let us know if another came in.
1988. Find an ad in the paper for a car that sounded great and was really cheap. Call the number in the ad which rings out as answering machines weren’t in common use and the phone would have been tethered to the wall so couldn’t be taken into the toilet. Finally get through and arrange to view that very evening.
2018. Dean from Mini dealership calls to say he’s just taken in the perfect car as a PX so we arrange to view that very evening.
1988. The address given was on the roughest dodgiest housing estate in Swindon, but the directions were simple. “It’s the only one in the street not on bricks.”
2018 Met my daughter outside the posh main entrance to the dealership under a mini bolted to the wall. So I guess you could say “it was up on bricks”?
1988 It was dark and pouring with rain, but the car looked ok (in the dark). We rang the doorbell. Anita wasn’t insured so the vendor took us to the car park in front of the local row of shops for us to test drive. Here we were able to establish that it moved and stopped. He then drove us back to his house.
2018 It was a pleasant evening and still bright daylight and we were able to have a good look round the car. It was spotless and everything seemed to be in excellent working order. It was however too late to go for a test drive as it was nearly closing time at the dealership.
1988 When we pulled up back at his house, his girlfriend came out and announced that someone was on the phone about the car. Whilst he was inside on the phone we decided to have the car as it was likely to go quickly. Yes, we fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. We handed over the agreed amount and I drove the car back to the future in-laws house. I discovered on the way that it pulled to the left and there was a rubbing noise on full left lock. It had 2 months MOT and Tax though.
We were arranging the test drive for Saturday morning when Dean announced that unless we paid a fully refundable deposit, he couldn’t guarantee the car would be there. Sophie decided that she wanted the car and told the salesman this which rather undermined any negotiating position. However I did get the upcoming service and brake fluid change thrown in along with a tank of fuel.
The Next day, Anita’s Dad decided he would get the car inspected by a local garage he trusted. He then promptly spent another £300 on welding and repairing steering. Oh and the car caught fire on the ramp but they managed to put it out and repair the cause. (Dads are great aren’t they?)
We all test drove the car and came back with big grins on our faces. The deal was done and we arranged to pick the car up the following week to give the garage time to do the service and valet the car.
We got the car back and with insurance arranged, Anita got her 1st proper drive on the road. She hated it at first as it was so different to drive than the brand new Vauxhall Nova she’d learnt on. However she soon fell in love with its handling and practicality and what was intended as a town car purely for the commute from digs to Hospital soon became a motorway car too and was going back and forward from Swindon to London for her days off. This 1975 Mini 1000, KNT 735P gave great service for 3 years until the floor fell off and it became the spares car for the one I helped build as a wedding present.
The day came to pick up the mini and it was sunny and warm. The salesman ran Sophie through all the controls and paired her phone. The roof was lowered and off she went immediately in love with the car. 2 weeks later, we still haven’t managed to prise her out of the driver’s seat or get the grin from her face. I’m also pretty sure this car will provide many, many years of service and I really hope the floor doesn’t fall off.
Somethings are definitely better now than then and I think the "new" Mini is definitely a classic in the making. .... But I do miss that old Mini.
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