A Mini Celebration
Photos courtesy of Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
It was back to the 1960s for the 60th birthday of the iconic Mini. Ann Evans reports.
The instantly recognisable Mini was first manufactured by The British Motor Corporation in 1959 and quickly became one of the best-selling cars in Europe. To celebrate the 60th birthday of this iconic vehicle, The British Motor Museum recently hosted the National Metro and Mini Show and not surprisingly it was a roaring success.
There was a huge and colourful display of Minis and Metros featuring the traditional and original as well as the customised and downright whacky – but all treasured and cared for by their proud and passionate owners. Amongst them was the ‘621 AOK’, the first Mini produced in 1959 and ‘X411 JOP’ the last ever classic Mini to be produced at Longbridge in 2000, along with ’33 EJB’, ‘AJB 44B’ and ‘LBL 6D’ the Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini’s of 1964, 1965 and 1967.
Crowds of enthusiasts flocked to the event which saw around 1,000 vehicles on site from all around the UK and abroad. One mini owner had driven all the way from Sweden to be at the show. He started out two weeks previously with a boot full of spares parts. Another owner had driven from Turkey and yet another had come from the Mini Club of Hungary.
Some 45 different Clubs were in attendance including the Countryman Register, The Metro Club, The Cooper Register, the Cooper Sports, the Cooper 35 Register and more as well as individual clubs with members bringing along their prized vehicles – many with trophies won at different events.
One club who didn’t have to travel too far was the Mini Cooper Register Warwickshire Region whose wonderful display of Mini Coopers represented all the decades from 1961 to the 1990s. This included one of the first off the production line back in 1961which was looking in perfect condition. It was owned by Peter Gibson who bought the car 15 years ago – and it seemed it really did only have one careful lady owner!
“It’s only done 55,000 miles throughout its life,” said Peter. “When I got it, it was driveable, but the bodywork wasn’t so good. The restoration has taken me four years. There are only seven left in the UK from those made at the time and this has the original body and engine, so it is quite unusual. It’s very special to me. You can’t drive it without a smile on your face!”
Keith Brownsell and his partner Debra from Bedfordshire had brought along their pride and joy which was a restored and customised 1965 Austin Seven – originally a disabled car. Keith bought this in early 2000 and has been working on its restoration ever since with Debra concentrating on renovating the interiors. “It’s never ending,” said Keith. “It’s a labour of love – it will never be finished!”
The crowds were entertained by the FAB Beatles singing all the classic Beatle songs from the 1960s, and female singing trio, The Barn-Ettes performing hits from the 60s and 70s. Additionally there were breath-taking displays over the weekend by ‘Stunt Drive UK’ who performed a tribute to the Italian Job with three ‘Britannia Job’ live stunt shows featuring three classic Minis in red, white and blue. Stunt Drive UK currently hold eight Guinness World Records for Precision Driving.
Peter James Insurance supported the show. Tracey James from the company said, “We’re delighted to be supporting the National Metro and Mini Show, especially in this landmark 60th anniversary year for the iconic Mini – a marque that is so close to the hearts of so many motoring enthusiasts across the world.”
A number of people took advantage of being able to camp in the grounds of the museum and on the Saturday evening enjoyed drinks and kebabs at The Horsebox Bar and Fat Larry’s. As the evening wore on, vehicle owners were encouraged to light up their cars with fairy lights and glow-sticks for the fun ‘Glow Show’ with prizes awarded for the most eye-catching vehicles.
In addition to the Mini and Metro show, visitors were also able to wander around the Museum and Collections Centre as well as exploring the temporary exhibitions: ‘Mini: Great Little Cars’ and the new ‘The Car. The Future. Me.’ Exhibition. And with 2019 also marking the 25th anniversary of Rover’s 100, visitors were also able to see the last Rover 100 produced.
Tom Caren, Events Manager at the Museum could not have been happier with the way the show went. He commented, “This has been a fantastic show to celebrate the Mini’s 60th. We have 1,000 cars on site – that’s the largest number of Minis we’ve ever had here ranging from the earliest Mini through to the 1990s. We also have 45 of the 1959/60 Club Registers. We’ve laid on some great entertainment for the visitors as well as giving them the chance to see hundreds of these iconic marques. We’ve had the TV and Radio people here – it’s been a great success and I’m just chuffed to bits as to how it’s gone.”
Discover more: https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/