Friday, 31 May 2013

Classic Mini

Once upon a time when the mountains were young, import-car buyers were avant-garde. These half-mad radicals thought nothing of trading in a perfectly good De Soto Firesweep for—whoa!—an English car! They craved something quirky and agile like a Morris Minor or Hillman Minx that worked. Worked! Started every morning. Lasted decades. Sold for cheap.

Of course, you nod, they wanted a BMC Mini, but engineered by Honda.

And 40-plus years later, Mini Tec of Royston, Georgia, offers just that—a rorty 220-hp Honda VTEC four-cylinder engine mashed into an original Mini. The real BMC Mini. Two of these wee paperweights parked together look like a pair of dice. Mini Tec will sell you a couple—or just one—then run for the tall brush. They aren't afraid the car won't work; they're afraid it will.

The original Mini's charisma is so legendary that BMW gambled mega-millions—successfully—on its resurrection in 2001. But compared with the BMC Mini, BMW's version is a Peterbilt. The impossibly "cute" 1959 Mini designed by Sir Alec Issigonis still provokes helpless smiling. Among enthusiasts, ownership remains contagious; the minute one Issigonis Mini appears, the entire neighborhood must be dusted with flea-and-tick powder. Read More...