Field Find: 1963 Austin Mini Van

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Thanks to Barn Finds reader Bnlv64 for this very British find, located in Wellington, Kansas. It’s for sale here on craigslist for only $500, and while the seller has only included two poor pictures, we can learn a little from them. Perhaps this find will be challenging, but worth the effort to resurrect?

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picture courtesy weloveanycar.com

The Mini Van was introduced in 1960, shortly after the Mini’s 1959 introduction, to take advantage of the utility of the Countryman’s longer platform as a small delivery and service vehicle. The AA and RAC both used the little van as a service vehicle to send out to aid motorists with problems. There’s actually a surprising amount of utility space present in the rear once you accept the fact that there are only two seats.

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I can’t quite make out the driver’s name under the window in the first picture, but I can see that this was original some sort of a tribute to John Cooper from the signature on the fender. John Cooper was the creator/modifier of the Mini Cooper, the performance version of the Mini. I can see a decal on the back window that says “You never forget your first Mini,” so this little van was obviously owned by an enthusiast, as if the Union Jack color scheme wasn’t enough. It looks like the van has fallen on some rough times, though, with a rusty left rear door, dents and rust on the rear fender we can see and a sagging left front door as evidence.

Over 500,000 of these little vans were built, so it’s not exactly rare, but we in the USA didn’t get very many. In the two sentences of the ad, the seller tells us that it does have the engine and transmission and that the engine is free, but the floors are very rusted. They also speak of a spare body for $400 more; if that one has good floors it’s a no-brainer to pick it up as well! Ultimately, I think this project would be for the dedicated, but I’m left wondering if the original sub-1000 cc A-series engine is in place, or perhaps someone swapped it out for a real Cooper engine? One can dream, right?

 

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Comments

  1. ClassicCarFan

    “I’m left wondering if the original sub-1000 cc A-series engine is in place, or perhaps someone swapped it out for a real Cooper engine?” probably not, there were millions of Mini’s produced and only a small fraction were Coopers. FWIW, the majority of genuine Mini Coopers built also had “sub-1000cc” motors, there were a lot more 970, 997 and 998 Coopers than 1071 and 1275 (talking the original pre-1971 version here not the later revival).

    Though it is pretty easy and relatively inexpensive to find a 1275 engine and upgrade to “Cooper “spec or better.

    A Mini Van like this would be an interesting novelty in the US. I do think this one looks pretty rough though, from what little you can see in the photos. Minis do like to rust.

  2. Roger Owen

    Had one of these Mini Minor Vans in 1969, given to me by a bartender at a local pub in exchange for a pint of beer! Great little wagon, 850cc engine (the best in my opinion).

    Hand brake was poorly welded to the floor and broke off first time I applied it – but I managed to fix that easy peasy. Throttle was inclined to stick on high revs – sorted that with a new bowden cable. Engine was seriously knackered – oil light would come on at anything below c 2000 RPM. Rusty as hell – but went like the clappers!

    Got into a spot of bovver one night with ‘the old bill’ following me in a Hillman Hunter. Great chase! Mini would out-corner the Hunter dead easy! 80 MPH down side roads, indicate right – turn left, indicate left – turn right. Loved watching the massive roll of the Hillman in my rear view mirror!!!

    Think I would have won the race apart from one fundamental error – I ram out of petrol!

    Story to be continued…………………

  3. Blindmarc

    Good for a drag car body.

  4. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Wouldn’t it be something if someone across the pond has been searching for that vehicle to restore? You just never know.

    • TVC15

      No not with the crap exchange rate at the moment

      • Dave Wright

        I think the exchange rate has moved 10% and is not far off where it was a year ago……..if that is too much…..You can’t afford it any way.

  5. Carl french

    For $500, if this was within 200 miles of me, it would be gone. Finding one of these that hasn’t been restored within an inch if it’s life is impossible. My wife and I live for oddball British vehicles.

  6. HeadMaster1

    hoping it’s still available, this look great as a display in my lobby and should be easy enough to carry up he stairs

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      If you buy it, show us pictures!

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