They love their Minis in this country. After the UK, Japan’s contingent is probably the second largest, judging by how common these are on local roads. The lion’s share of these classic Minis are of the late type, made in the ‘80s and ‘90s – imported and sold in Japan when new. Finding a CC-worthy BMC kernel among all that Rover-branded chaff is the stuff of needles in haystacks, but every once in a while, one comes along that actually looks interesting.
This one caught my eye a while back. It looks like the Real McCoy – a Morris-branded Mk 1 Mini, looking like it could use a little TLC (or at the very least some protection from the elements). But I’m really no expert. Minis, just like VW Beetles, Renault 4s or the Fiat 124 / Lada, have existed for so long, in so many local variants and in such numbers that one has to be a true devotee to ferret out what is what and what shouldn’t be there.
That looks like the slightly smaller series 1 backlight, if I’m not mistaken. So along with the door hinges, the grille and the emblems, which do not proclaim this to be a “Cooper S” or any of that BS. But one must be wary of confirmation bias…
There are a couple of weird things on this car, sure. The interior has necessarily been redone, for a start. Really not sure what is going on with that weird thing around the central dial – looks like something the owner did themselves with a piece of cheap plywood. The rest of the dash and the steering wheel look pretty genuine, but I’m not sure about that gearstick – aren’t those supposed to be longer?
Same story with the rear compartment – the upholstery (not to mention the seatbelts) is not original, but looks decent enough. Always surprised by how much room passengers had back there, especially compared to most other small cars of the time.
I found other Minis (see the related posts section below) that looked suspicious, or were just plain figments of the imagination, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one. I guess the clincher is that Morris badge. Who would want to fake that?
Over to you folks over in Blighty (and the rest of the world, of course) to let the rest of us know whether you reckon this might be first genuine Mk 1 Mini I’ve caught in this country, or whether it’s raising more red flags than a May Day parade in a Warsaw Pact capital city. More Mini madness to follow soon – there really is an ecosystem of these here.
Wordless Outtake: 1959 Morris Mini-Minor – Makes Parking Easy, by Brendan Saur