When the topic of Minis are brought up, the majority of people only think of the modern day BMW built Mini – a lovely car nonetheless, having owned a JCW tuned Cooper S before and man I loved that thing! Well, I thought I’d present to you something a ‘little’ different this time round, in the form of two classic British icons.
The Classic Mini, is the original and ‘how it should still be’ Mini of all time. A strong and biased view that’s held close to the hearts of all Classic Mini enthusiasts worldwide. It’s like an unwritten code that’s programmed into every Mini owner, that will never corrupt or fade away.
A question that probably gets asked a lot is ‘What’s so special about the old Mini then?’, but the person who is asking and who has no exposure to that ‘Mini life’, will find it quite difficult to warm to the little character filled cars. That being said, I was one of those – a guy who hadn’t experienced what it’s like to be around or in a Classic Mini, ever. Of course, I’ve briefly strolled past one or two in the past, without taking much notice, but that’s all changed now. I guess you could say I’m a new man! Well, relating to this topic at hand with the Classic Mini, then yes I am.
So you recognise one of the Minis already right? Rob’s ‘British Racing Green’ Cooper, that we quickly touched base on in Volume 2 of ‘Show Prepping’, but who owns the other Red one? Well that owner in question is Tom McPherson, a dear friend of mine who’s love for Minis could reach to the moon and back. I’ve been wanting to shoot his car for some time now, but of course in this country, the weather was playing a damn good part at getting in the way of plans.
But then you’ll never guess what? It was a Saturday and the sun was out with hardly any clouds in the sky, so it was game time – the shoot was on!
Tom’s Mini, named Rosie, has so much character to ‘her’ and what is basically just an old car. The thing is, it’s not just an ‘old car’ but instead, an important piece of Tom’s life in this moment of time. Of course, who knows what the future may hold, but for now it’s about living in the moment. Having gotten to know Tom myself and building that friendship with him, I have also seen the deepest passion and love that he has for his Mini flourish. So much so, that when you look at Rosie, you kind of feel the sense of connection between them both – car and owner, Tom and Rosie, enthusiast and ‘pride and joy’.
It would be strange to see Tom with any other car.
The Red Classic Mini is a 1993 build, sporting a nippy 1.3L engine that can reach speeds of 80-85mph, at a push – quite impressive, from a car of this nature. It has spent most of it’s life up in Sunderland, then Tom bought her from Palmer Brothers, a Class Mini specialist in Mottingham back in August 2012. The love affair has only been going for a couple of years so far, but in my eyes, I do see it lasting a long time. “I’ve always loved mechanisation, be it from classic cars to the monstrous mass of a steam train. It’s about man being at one with his machine. Rosie is my machine.”
Leather bonnet straps, metal headlight protectors and front spotlights are just some of the quirky features on Rosie.
“Most modern cars will do a lot of things themselves, but Rosie requires me to think and act accordingly, its this responsibility that I also love.”
“Its awesome to have such an awesome little car that, regardless of age, will get me anywhere. The most random Friday night drives with friends will take me coast to coast and city to city. Where ever Rosie goes, people love her, this speaks volumes about how people perceive this awesome breed of machine.”
It was nice to just admire the two cars for a while in nice weather, sun gleaming, in a nice quiet spot I found. They really do look great together.
Tom’s Mini may not have the Cooper arches and wide Minilite wheels, but that’s just the charm of it, why change that. Why drastically change the look of it, when it’s so unique anyway? Some would see it as a great base for modifying, to achieve a Cooper look but Tom would be just as happy if it had the additional extras or not. He’s changed things over the course of ownership, but he’s made sure the subtle originality stays true.
“I like hearing the engine and the exhaust, feeling every bump, seemingly slicing the gear stick into 4th each time I want high speeds. Knowing when to hold back and when to go for it. Driving an iconic machine is much more important to me than driving the latest computer on wheels.”
Both of these together are quite the pair. They turned so many heads from people walking by. Especially the old folk who probably felt a touch of nostalgia, going back to their days of owning such a car. “Oh what a lovely little car. I used to have one like that in the same colour, fantastic little things.” stated by an elderly women who slowly strolled past, and I mean slowly.
I was lucky enough to be allowed to drive Tom’s, up the road and back. I’ve never driven a manual version of the Classic before, so it felt like I was taking my driving test all over again. That feeling you get when putting on your seat belt, but before I knew it I was driving this awesome thing with smooth gear changes – it took me by surprise that it was so easy to drive!
I can honestly say that flying down the road in one of these, is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a while. How can something so small, old and basic, give you the biggest grin going? I’ll come onto this in a moment.
Having wrapped up the shoot, we decided to head out onto the open road for a spot of driving. Two Mini’s roaming the local streets – it felt like the Italian Job, minus one Mini though! After some rolling shots of Rob’s gorgeous Mini and lane switching later, the small adventure was over.
As a conclusion, I’d like to say that I have found an all new appreciation for these little British cars. There’s a small part of me that regrets not taking more notice of these before, as I have to this day missed out on seeing what all the fuss is about. They create the biggest smile on your face and make you feel so joyful – small fun, big fun, hand in hand.
I can now see what’s so special about them. It’s quite hard to explain or put into words, but once you spend some time in their presence, experienced road time and journeys, something clicks inside of you – it all becomes clear.