Last Mini to Leave the Factory

long-lost-mini-clubman-in-tunnel

Reader Callum C. shared this interesting find with us. While it looks like a wrecked basket case, this Mini Clubman has quite the interesting story behind it. During World War II, British Leyland constructed a series of tunnels below its Longbridge factory to keep production safe from bombing. This Mini was used to drive around the factory, but was abandoned in one of the tunnels after an accident. In 2012, it was exhumed from its tomb making it the last Mini to leave the factory. It is now being auctioned off on July 27th at the Silverstone Classic Sale.

long-lost-mini-clubman-on-rollers

Sadly, most of the components have already been picked from the chassis and all that’s left is a bare shell. Someone has already fixed much of the damage to the roof, but the body is still in very rough shape. When it was pulled free from the factory it caused a stir in the Mini community, as many felt it should be left in the tunnels.

long-lost-mini-clubman-side-view

This is an interesting piece of automotive history, but it’s difficult to say what it’s really worth. Hopefully it goes to a home where its history can be appreciated. Given all the hype, we are sure it will bring considerable attention when it hits the auction block. Do you think it should have been left in the tunnel or are you glad it was pulled free?

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Comments

  1. David

    An interesting story, but it needs a good bit of clarification on the time frame, as neither British Leyland nor the Mini existed during World War II….

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      You’re partially right David. The Mini did not exist, but Josh never claimed that. British Leyland may not have been the name of the company when the tunnels were built, but it was essentially the same organization. Austin and Morris had been around since the early 1900’s, but they merged to form BMC which eventually became British Leyland. So, the reference may have been wrong, but not completely…

      • rusty

        But Leyland Motors itself existed during WW2 infact building many a tank and other military fare. Just as important as Morris and Austin during the war, especially as it was more into commercial vehicle building which suited a change to military jobs.

        But it was later it and BLMC merged probably to the detriment of a fine line of various british vehicles…it came at a time when many would flounder.

        In fact the MIni itself can owe its heritage to a vehicle designed by Issigonis during the war..The Original Morris Minor designed in the war later had a prototype with front wheel drive, although a successful driving car it was rejected but laster he used it to great effect in the mini..all and all the mini is the product of a wartime designer…and fitting to be the unknown soldier lost in its tomb.

  2. rusty

    LEAVE IT

    Sick of people making money out of the “.this and that” of forgotten debris…
    if its not [in my location] Aussie muscles cars being dugup out of holes or dragged from rivers because they have a sought after Id but no metal left….Its now another forgotten wreck that somehow has a “claim To fame” of being left abandoned in a tunnel..RIP.

    I would think better of it if it was an enthusiast who painstakenly found it, restored it, and enjoyed it instead of being sold minutes after being exhumed..infact i think it had more value with the roof crushed..”as found’ is way more exiting .. now its just another old beater. hee hee.

  3. Noah

    Honestly, this is a great piece of history, and it would be sad to see it left in the tunnel to rot. If it were mine, since the roof has already been fixed, I would put an original engine, vintage looking wheels and whatever else it needs mechanically (ie: suspension, brakes, etc.), and a steering wheel and leave it as is, no paint, no bodywork, just as is. If you do anymore, it loses it’s historical value. Any differing opinions? Ide love to hear them.

  4. rusty

    Noah..I reckon you should have found it…next custodian should have been a sympathetic “appreciator” as yourself..but I guess if it wasnt for the Leyland employee wanting to make a quick buck no one would have got the chance..I only hope it goes for an affordable price to a guy like yourself. as you I like cars to be as found than show queens..

    there are plenty of “last car out of the factory” cars that dont cost more than thier brothers? …..but i spose this story has a crazy twi$t.

    buy it Noah.

  5. dunsford

    nice find…i like noah’s idea the best….keep some of that character with it….if its fully restored, its no different than any other minis on the road…

    and y second thought: how the hell did they wreck it that bad and roll it driving it around in tunnels? i mean, i know minis are small, but still…

  6. Jim-Bob

    Seeing as the plan was to fill in the tunnels and it would never have been seen again, I am happy that it found it’s way out. I can’t say much of the motives of the seller though. Perhaps he rescued it with the best of intentions but then found that it was beyond his abilities and financial means to restore the car, thus the sale. If memory serves, the story behind it is that it was rolled or dropped off the lines when new and the workers stuck it in the tunnel to hide it from management. No matter though, as I would rather see ANY Mini saved rather than sent to the scrap heap.

    • Connor

      I am inclined to believe your story as it makes more sense than they managed to roll it in the tunnels and it mentions that the parts were picked clean but those parts might have never even been in the mini if it fell off the production line and then got hidden in the tunnels

  7. rusty

    Although not a rare car I dont disagree with what you are saying, but I do understand the sentiment of others about leaving it, These were military tunnels and sometimes an old soldier must lay where he fell…perhaps these tunnels should be the Leyland Time capsules.

    Ironically though this may be the most rust free example and that, I reckon, is probably more amazing than its pushed on us “last off the factory tag” hee hee…If that first picture is the tunnel then I dare say from the photos of the car it probably sat without rust worm..that looks a pretty sweet and dry tunnel. and a clean body from here.

    damn these auctions taint the car scene. Producing false prohets / profits..hee hee

    sorry just found this site and I like a barn find site over a show queen site..just getting my band width worth of first posts. hee hee.

    • Horse Radish

      Howdy rusty
      you’re welcome here under 2 conditions:
      1. keep it short
      2. keep it positive, about the cars. (you can trash some of the sellers though in MHO)
      .
      ;^}

  8. HC

    I would leave it like it is. It could be in a museum.

  9. scot

    ~ i’m glad it’s been unearthed, and i see little point to doing much more than making it usable and enjoying it. after all it is not the final production VIN. along the same thinking, i wouldn’t rule out that the person that rescued the Mini simply didn’t find it of interest. there are any number of vehicles i’d have no enthusiasm for if i found them regardless of history or heritage.. i would return the roof to a normal shape to avoid scaring off prospects, then apply any profit to projects that do stir passion. anyone care to venture a pre-auction guesstimate?

  10. rusty

    Thanks Raddish…have seen you on other blogs,,cheers
    1. short…damn that leaves me out..hee hee
    2. positive on cars..yep definately in this case..a Morris Minor guy for over 30 years who loves its little brother mini

    like the stories I’ve seen on this site…so far it seems Hoarders are not castigated here…
    hmmmm I should fit in…hee hee.

    • markswebpages

      I read the story of how this rediscovered on a urban exploring web (28 days later) and the next thing was an enthusiast was going to rescue it and rebuild it, no surprise it’s up for auction as the last Mini to leave the Oxford factor (the more sceptical among us may think that it was only ever rescued as a profit was spotted).

      It’s a shame it’s been knocked back out at I think the artifact car as is and the story is worth far more that a VIN plate on a new shell which is the only way that mini is ever going to see the road.

      It’s a 1275GT which is the Cooper’s unloved ugly cousin, bit they’re probably rarer than the Cooper now!

  11. Larry Johnson

    To me, whoever owns the Mini Company should consider buying it and placing it on display somewhere where the public can see the historical value of this vehicle. With explanations of same of course. LJ

  12. Christian

    “last off the factory” is a bit debatable but it remains an interesting find either to showcase like this or to reequip with everything to pass a MoT (some work needed …) BUT leaving the derelict visual aspect … a very tough job !

  13. Koen

    It has only sentimental value to Mini adepts, but good to save it from the tunnels. Restoring it again would ruin it’s history so I think it should get a good home in a car museum the way it is now…

  14. Gene m

    It got screwed over when they took out the first dent. It should have been donated to the Imperial War Museum, as was.

  15. paul

    well it looks like someone did the hard part & got the unibody straightened out, the roof is back to proper shape & the right front is back to square. If this really is the final VIN tag I think it’s worth saving & bringing back to showroom stock, not as a money maker but bragging rights at the next Brit car show.actually the frame machine is the easier part now almost all the sheetmetal will need to be replaced.

  16. Larry

    I’m a little confused, does this car have the last vin # or is it just a beat up mini that was left in A tunnel ? If it is the last vin # it may be worth something to someone, other wise isn’t it just an old beat up abandoned car with no real value ? Can some end this confusion for me :)

    • Dolphin Member

      It’s claimed to be the last to leave the factory. There isn’t a VIN given in the listing, so they can’t claim it’s the last one made.

      Save it, but it’s just one of the series, not the landmark ‘last one made’.

  17. joe

    all classics should be saved

  18. Curtis

    I would want to see glass actually installed before deeming the roof fixed.

    This thing would be of no value to me at all. However I hope someone is able to enjoy it and it’s story

  19. Harley505

    Build it, wreck it, entomb it, exhume it and they shall come! What a crazy car collecting world we live in now! Just a thought!

  20. rancho bella

    last one to leave the factory……….not the last one made………right?

  21. erikj

    Yea, its not clear with the vin. I think its just called the last to leave. I think thats still a fun story-does not rais the value much to me , i would try to keep the body as usable as poss. get the mech. back and put it on the road,hit the car shows

  22. Christian

    @Larry
    @Dolphin
    @erikj

    “last to come out” not because of a VIN … not last BUILT but left in the factory then out so the last to come out … left to read like this …

    if it was the first built and then left, it could have been first built and last to come out … ah ah …

    • Dolphin Member

      Yes, the auction house worded it very carefully—last one out of the factory, not last one made. IMHO, that seems like a bit of creative wording. It might be true, but how do you verify it?

      Since they don’t list a VIN, and since they point out that a lot of parts are missing, I’m guessing that the VIN plate is looooong gone, along with all those other missing parts.

      • William Robinson

        This car was built, involved in an accident in the factory and then hidden in the tunnels. The factory was shuttered and the car remained in the tunnels. An urban explorer found the car and posted pics of his discovery. Somone read his post (or maybe it was the explorer himself, I dont remember this part of the story) went and retreived the car.

      • William Robinson

        Whoeer retreived the car did so long after the factory was shuttered, hence the last car to leave the factory.

  23. Trickie Dickie Member

    Take this to a junk yard, put it in their car crusher, make it into a cube of metal and use it as a coffee table.

  24. scot

    ~ last one left after the factory moved somewhere else.
    the greatest value to this car are the conversations on auto web sites spreading the hype.

  25. rusty

    It may not have ever been issued with a Vin number anyway, as it was said to be removed from the production line because of foul [fallen off] or to be used as a “tunnel rat” [transport]..

    To display it for history sake would be to have had left it crushed [as found]…I would have left it,…but as I am an advocate of what ever happens to a car is its history..I spose I need to address the fact it now has the next part of its history thrust on it…Auction queen now I guess.

    besides it isnt a rare car as someone thought..it possibly is the most produced mini shape..[middle body between the original grilled car and the later grilled car] and the Clubman came to australia as the total replacement of the original shape. It sold in bundles. Here they were like flies on Wombat roadkill…everywhere..I dare say although not most popular shape now, of the minis the survival rate here would be reasonably high. Im guessing elsewhere too.

    As it should be …the Mini entered the motoring scene with controversy..so it shall leave the scene the same..hee hee

  26. brian stig,

    does have a vin number, even has a speedo that shows 11 miles! the proceeds from the sale will go to Acorn childrens hospice, a worthy charity,

    • paul

      Now isn’t that nice I hope it brings a boat load of cash & with only 11 miles I will stick to my idea of a complete restore even if it’s not the last one built it still comes with a good story & no miles & great cause.

  27. rusty

    Wow Brian..thanks for that information..a bonus in its history its gathering. Now its a great/er story..cheers for that..and cheers to the seller. Mini seller with a Maxi heart..

  28. steve morgan

    hi I am steve morgan the man who salvaged and saved the mini from being crushed ..yes that’s right it was going to be pulled out and crushed ..it was dumped down the tunnel in 1976 ,not during ww2 I had the opportunity to save it and I did it has a great story and it will have a great future …and I see noah is on here slagging me off again as he has done on many forums ..but didn’t have to gaul to approach me in person at mini fest but did take its photo to paste all over the internet…anyway that’s my story and ime sticking to it
    thanks again steve morgan

  29. paul

    Well Steve I am glad you saved it & I am sure someone out there will bring it back.

  30. Colin

    Apparently somewhere in the same tunnels is a lancaster engine that was used to power the generators for the underground factory. (I am a member of 28 days later) :)

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