1988 Austin Rover Mini: Reader Ride

By: Wilfrid Barrett, Photography by: Wilfrid Barrett

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Wilfrid Barrett's says he wouldn't change a thing on his Austin Rover Mini


Wilfrid Barrett's 1988 Austin Rover Mini

There’s a guy in Oxley who does Mini restorations and servicing. He’s got a field of them out the back of his workshop, so that’s where I got this one. It’s a Japanese Domestic Market model, and I’ve had it for a few months now. The dash was out and it was pretty rough when I first saw it. So I bought the car, then he got to work on it with fixing it up and installing new things like the twin carbs. I wanted it because it’s something different, and there aren’t too many out there. I saw one the other day but that’s one of the only others I’ve seen.

As far as a refurbishment goes, it’s pretty original, aside from the carbs and a radio. It would have had speakers up the back originally, but now they’re more modern and not what it would have been. It’s a 1275cc but it feels pretty good, it’s about 700 kg I think, so it handles like a go-kart.

I’d say this one’s been in Australia for a few years, because there was someone before me who wanted it and had the engine reconditioned before deciding he didn’t want it anymore. It was a Japanese import, but I’m actually not sure what’s different about it. I’m looking at the flares and the hubcaps but I really don’t know if that’s a JDM thing.

This is my first car... before this I drove my Mum’s Hyundai Getz while I waited to get this for a few months. This is much better than a Getz. It’s actually slower on the highway, but it gets off the mark a bit quicker. We also have a Nissan Patrol, which feels like driving a tank.

There are always people taking pictures of my car as they go past on the highway. The other day an old couple in a C63 AMG were taking photos as they drove past, but I would have been taking pictures of theirs if I wasn’t driving.

Realistically, I don’t know if I’ll have this forever, but if I got rid of it I’d probably go out and get an older one, like a Mk1. I’ve seen one for sale but it’s about $30k so that’s a while away for me.

I was happy with the price for this one. When the mechanic gave me a number I decided to go ahead, because the quality of the car was better than the other he had. I went and had a look at a Mk1 before this one, it was advertised at $8k, but someone had changed the doors to Mk 3 doors and had swapped the engine. He chopped and changed everything. It was terrible!

I love everything about my Mini, there’s nothing I’d change at all. The red on the roof matches the interior carpet, it’s things like that. There’s actually a lot of space inside the car, considering how big it is. I just love it.


Minis can still be had for loose change, but tidy ones start at $4k.



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