Government Auction: 1976 Austin Mini 1000

Government auction cars rarely look like this 1976 Austin Mini 1000. Normally a better venue for a low-buck Chevy Celebrity that looks like it was mauled by a hungry bear, these sites rarely offer classic cars. Kudos to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in Knoxville, Tennessee for composing one of the best listings ever. Government auction listings often utilize ALL CAPITAL LETTERS AND ANGRY DESCRIPTIONS LIKE “NO REPAIRS MAY BE MADE ON SITE!!” In this case, someone had some fun crafting a listing that provides actual information – as much as possible with a non-running car sold by an agency that knows little or nothing about the vehicle’s history.

Nothing looks better on a Mini than either the Minilite or these Superlite alloy wheels. Putting the word “MINI” on a Mini is similar to putting “Jeep” in 50 different places on a Jeep, despite the fact that Jeeps and Minis are some of the most recognizable vehicles on the planet. Rust alert! This auction car has holes in the floorboards and elsewhere. Considering its modifications and deviation from stock this Mini may find new life as an SCCA Solo (autocross) contender where they can be small sticky beasts.

Bidders may consider right-hand drive a novelty or a deal-breaker. Comments from right-hand drivers appreciated below. Simple elegant design renders the Mini easier to work on than luxury cars of the same vintage. Like Volkswagen Beetles, parts are readily available for this popular cult car. This first-year Mark IV Mini carried on until 1983. Despite the optimistic stickers, this is probably not a performance-minded Cooper version. The latter were named after racer John Cooper who made corner-conquering racers out of the beloved Mini.


What looks like the engine compartment of a million small cars you’ve seen before BEGAN with the original Mini. Sir Alec Issigonis first penned the space-efficient transverse inline four-cylinder motor and front-wheel drive layout, redefining compact cars forever. This one cranks but does not start. The seller reports that the road wheels and steering wheel are “locked,” putting this Mini in the “bring a trailer” category.

Simple rocker switches and buttons with universal symbols for 1. Ascending Pyramid, 2. I have 12 children in the car, 3. Horse Leg Wearing a Snow Shoe, 4. Unnamed Secret Weapon, and 5. Deploy Flaming Log. All joking aside, do I gather that’s a one-speed blower? Bidders should calculate their top number allowing an ample buffer for the unknown. I’ve seen Government auction cars sell for more than a car with known history on eBay, but I’ve also seen them sell for a fraction of the market price. Taking all information into account, where do you think bidding will end on this slice of English auto history?

Fast Finds


  1. Fred W.

    Never looked at a government car auction before- wish all descriptions were this up front!

  2. Jeffro

    I’d buy it, but the racing numbers are off. I’m more of a 666 kinda racer. J/K

  3. jdjonesdr

    Government auctions used to be the go to place to find great deals on cars, boats, planes, and land and such. I see this isn’t the case any more.

    But then again, this isn’t a government auction site.

  4. Howard A Member

    I see we’re overwhelming BF’s wimpy server, I’ll try again,,( sorry, I have more trouble with this site than any other)
    always liked the Mini Cooper, I used to watch them race and lift the inside rear wheel on hard cornering. I don’t think you could roll one.
    Once, years ago, I asked a Cooper “S” owner, if he’d trade even up for my MGB. He politely said, “No”. I happen to know, from a very reliable inside source, the modern Cooper can’t hold a candle to the older ones. Very cool car.

    • John H

      Howard, at the first autocross I attended (where I ran my ’62 Corvair) I saw two Minis flop onto their sides. Both lost it in the same corner.

      I’ve always had a soft spot for these little cars. Some day one of these might follow me home!

  5. Rattlinglikenuggets

    I’ve gone all nostalgic now. That’s the same shade of vomit yellow that my 850cc Mini was. It was so rusty that I gave it away for free. Most of the front including the subframe came off when the guy tried to tow it out of my driveway. He wasn’t impressed when I laughed and was less impressed when I told him not to have a hissy fit about a free car.

  6. Dave Wright

    I pulled one out of a riverbank where it had been placed as an anti erosion barrier, rebuilt it and drove it for a couple of years. Then there was the time I had a 67 Cooper S, I was careening down a 2 lane German road to get to a German gun store before they closed, hit a spot of ice, did 2 360’s and continued in the correct direction at speed. These are magnificent vehicles. Everything is available to modify or repair them….simple, inexpensive and reliable as any English car can be. There is a surprising amount of room inside. My race car mechanic raced one. I watched him flip it on its side in a fast corner, he got out, kicked it, rolled it back on its wheels and completed the race. Fun stuff.

    • zero250 jeff steindler

      I remember the anti-erosion mini comment from a couple of years ago!

  7. Tobie

    The engine is bad.

  8. Derek

    Mini 1000s were my staple car for years. They’ve all got – or are getting – holes in the floors and sills, don’t worry about it. Fabulous cars, but getting too expensive now.

    Choke/hazards/heated rear window/brake test light/light switch/heater temperature control, incidentally.

    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Thank you, Derek, for the correct switch and light functions!

  9. Daymo

    For those of you who have never driven a Mini, make sure you put it on your bucket list. There is absolutely nothing else on the road like them. They handle like a giant roller skate on rails, which is why they had such a great racing success.
    As well as the normal saloons, they were also made as estates, vans and pickups, as well as aftermarket softtops so there’s one for everybody.
    As someone else said, they are extremely roomy, even for someone like me well over six foot.
    Parts are cheap and plentiful though even basketcase cars here in the UK are becoming increasingly expensive and great ones are even more. I did see an advert for one recently asking for £15k!

  10. Tim

    Oh boy, what a money pit this could be. I’ve owned several minis, from new and second hand. Rust, rust, rust! The bane of mini’s. Sure they can be repaired but they really do rust badly. If this has holes in the floor, you can bet it has even more everywhere else. The front ends basically fall off with rust – a pretty bad thing when the entire front subframe is attached there and contains engine and suspension. Cannot be ignored and MUST be repaired.

    The engine turns over but the wheels are locked? Hopefully brakes, because otherwise it could be transmission. Easy to fix in the UK, but not so much here. Still costs money. Almost better to find another mini somewhere else.

    Right hand drive? Not a problem. With a car so small you can ride the center line with impunity. Crash safety, non-existent, so don’t tangle with any SUVs.

    • Dave Wright

      More crash safety than a motorcycle.

      • Tim

        Not really, at least with a motorcycle you don’t have the engine coming back through the bulkhead at your legs. And you can be thrown clear. Not so with a mini; you are inescapably part of the wreck.

  11. Phil

    1976 is a good year to have. Many improvements since the Mini was introduced but keeps the original character. Mine is right hand drive and I had no problem adapting. Fun to drive & fun to watch people’s reactions.

  12. Joe Harris

    Still own my original 73, raced and street driven for years, been sitting idle for almost 15 years in the garage now, can’t sell it just to many great memories and when I do decide to replace the cam and put it on the road again will still be a great amount of fun. I can only imagine getting one of these on its side if the front wheel got into a hole on a corner while you had it maxed out. Used it for racing in autocross and rallies, rear tire pressure should be about 15 to 20 lbs less than fronts so you can get back end around quickly. Front tire should be max pressure allowed, when racing. ( Which, if you have one, you do all the time, ; ^) ) If you run to low a pressure on the front it might grab a rim and tip if your rear wheel is off the pavement. Maybe but most likely just plow. Never came close to tipping the car I don’t think but did have it up on two wheels in a race once to get over a pylon trying to take some time off but it din’t make enough difference to keep trying it and taking the chance to tip it but I was trying real hard to do that. these cars spin out rarely except on ice, as you just hit the accelerator and pull out straight. Never hit the breaks in a hard corner just drive it out.
    Even in Ice racing these things were a lot of fun and in the day, with front wheel drive when everyone else was rear, it was like you were on rails in comparision.
    I think I should order that cam, now that I have caught that dam Mini bug again, writing about all this.

    • angliagt

      You need to get it going again!

  13. Graeme dyble

    I thought cooper s had 2 filler caps = 2 fuel tanks

  14. Bill

    Not a Cooper, and NOT a ’76… more likley an ’86 grey marlket car. Still, parts are cheap and easily available. Save it and have a blast with it!

  15. bapid

    These are really fun cars, I had one when I was in England and used to drive through London a lot. It was great because you could use all the back alleys to bypass the traffic jams. Mine was a 63 morris which I had picked up for 50pounds and done a restoration for my girlfriend but I gave her my car to drive and I used the mini.

  16. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    This is a sweet Mini!

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