Utility Coupe: 1968 Austin Mini Truck

austin-mini-truck

Reader Pete M. sent us this unique little find that was hiding in a barn in the UK. From the front it looks like any other Austin Mini, but this isn’t your run of the mill Mini. This 1968 Austin is a Mini truck or utility coupe and  is about as quirky as they come. We doubt it was real effective as a truck, but it certainly gave the owner more utility than a standard Mini. It is in need of a complete restoration and is not a project for the weak of heart. Have a look at this oddball here on eBay in the UK.

1968-austin-mini-truck

We haven’t seen many of these Mini trucks, likely because few hit our shores. These trucks were based off the longer Traveller chassis and were rated with a hauling capacity of a quarter ton. While the truck and its van counterpart were classified as commercial vehicles and therefore sales tax exempt, they weren’t all that much different from the none commercial Traveller they were based on. This tax exempt status made them very popular, especially on farms.

austin-truck-on-trailer

Given that it is just a Mini Traveller with the back half cut off, parts should be easy to find. It also means that one could source Cooper components and create a fun little utility coupe to race around the country side. Sadly, the years parked in the barn with the sheep and chickens, has left it very rusty. It’s not unsalvageable, but fixing it is going to be time consuming and costly, so get your cutting torch and welder ready.

austin-truck

Thanks to Pete for sharing this find with us. We hope someone will pick this truck up and get it back on the road, but it will likely be a labor of love. We are sure it would be a worthwhile project in the end and would be a fun little vehicle to take to your local car shows. This could be the smallest truck we have ever seen. Can anyone think of one that’s even smaller? Let us know in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Jesse Staff

    This reminded me of the Clubvan that Mini released earlier this year. It was basically a panel Mini and it seemed like a good idea. Problem was that it was too expensive and didn’t avoid the light commercial vehicle tax. They ending up pulling it from our shores after only selling 50. Here is an article on Motor Trend about it. Maybe they should have looked to this utility coupe for some inspiration!

    • rancho bella

      Starting in 2005 Mini’s were hot sellers here in SoCal……for a few years.

      Then they became “not so Mini” and putting out weird looking models like the convertible hard top Mini/Smart car…..heck I don’t know how else to explain it.

      I rarely see new ones now. They couldn’t leave well enough alone…………

      • Don Andreina

        Couldn’t agree more. Except the variants are flourishing where I live. There’s no accounting for taste, ergo BMW X6.

  2. rancho bella

    Cute as a button……….but come on………….how much hay can you put back thar………..

  3. Steve

    These were actually really useful little trucks. Given that farms and roads in the UK are much smaller than those in the USA, the small size was not a problem. Also the light weight meant it could be driven on grassland without damaging it. My neighbour used one for years on his farm and for his milk round. I wish I had it now!

  4. Carl W. French

    Considering what the Brits call ‘restorable’, This is a quick project :-)

    My wife loves them. I actually have a line on one and am going to look and negotiate tomorrow. It is not as nice as this one but I figure I will put it on a rotisserie and plan on a five year project. Something to pick away at. They still make all the panels They were produced for 20 years starting in 61. My wife thinks it would make an epic dump runner in our village.

  5. Mark E

    Sounds like the stupid chicken tax killed the clubvan mini…that’s the main reason mini trucks disapeared from the USA in the first place! As far as an even smaller truck, look to the land of the rising sun for tiny mazda & daihatsu 3-wheeled pickups! http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/Ax525TYd_Jg/maxresdefault.jpg

  6. David Reeves

    I’d drive it proudly and frightened through the sea of what they call trucks these days!

  7. Rene

    looks like a toy car.

  8. Liam

    Strangely enough, I also spotted one of these in barn last week whilst out walking. It is under a pile of ladders. I did not have my camera with me at the time, but I left a note for the attention of the owner and plan on going back there this Monday to try and make contact with him to see if it can be bought.

  9. Jim-Bob

    The Soviets also did a variant on this theme, if memory serves. It was based upon the rear engined Zaporozhets 966 or 968. It’s sort of what you get when you cross a pickup truck with an NSU Prinz, the chassis of a VW Beetle and Soviet pragmatism. The ZAZ 965,966 and 968 were the Soviet’s idea of a “People’s Car” and probably not much larger or smaller than a Mini. It’s one of the things that came out of Khrushchev’s attempts to make Communism less awful for the average person (He got rid of communal housing and built the boring Soviet tower blocks which gave everyone novel things like running water and toilets!). Needless to say, most Soviets preferred a Lada as the ZAZ was considered awful-even by Soviet standards!

  10. Connor

    Think I might go for this. Been looking for one for a while.

  11. Don Andreina

    Very cute, and sort of familiar. Austin made a ‘ute’ from their 1800 here in Australia. I remember my year 7 school teacher having one. Only thing comparable I can think of is the Suzuki Mighty Boy.

  12. jim s

    nice little truck which could be made to go fast with the right cooper s parts. great find. maybe that is where VW got the idea for this
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/291014445282?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649 which could be made to go fast with the right GTI parts. if i just knew where to find a gti donor car. and yes it is up on another site that starts with a “B ” but i did not find it there. i found it in my watched item list on ebay for some unknow reason.

  13. geomechs geomechs Member

    I came across one like this while travelling through Washington State a number of years ago. I thought that they’d cut it down like that but maybe it was the real thing.

  14. Nick

    Not so uncommon as you may think or useless. My late father in law had a trucking firm and used one to take tires to trucks with flats my then wife used it as her daily transport otherwise.

  15. ron cox

    mini pickup loads of them in uk most now scrapped hence high prices for good ones

  16. Chris Bater UK

    Good morning. Though not produced in vast numbers, this pick up variant is typical of just how variable the everlasting original Austin-Morris Mini was. If you think this is a weird off shoot, try the military inspired Austin Mini Moke, that will stretch your imagination, its certainly an example of the genius that Sir Alec Issigonis (lead designer) was, and why the mini reigned supreme as a design concept for years, inspiring so many copy designs by other manufacturers. This pickup was often used by local authorities, a typical use would have been, tending local municipal parks and gardens, there diminutive size being very useful in confine spaces.The load carrying capacity of these pick up was not great, about 4-5 cwt, (440-550 lbs) but task useful even at that. The 850/998 cc gearbox-in-the-sump engine was a hard working and reliable unit (when serviced) that could return 40+ mpg. Very few examples of this clever little model will have survived the ravages of the years, and examples can now demand high prices even here in the UK, a good reason why this example may not look like a particularly inspiring prospect…..but it is….trust me!

    • Don Andreina

      Chris, are you talking about the Twini?

      • Cameron Bater UK

        Interesting, I think I heard a while back over Facebook that there were a few Mini’s produced with 2 engines – if this was indeed the case then one would expect the rear gearbox to have been mounted the opposite way round so that a simple mechanical connection could be made between the two gear levers – quite elegant if one thinks about it although very simple.

  17. Steve R

    Great little vehicles, we used one every day as a run about for our garage business from 1982 to 2002 and it is still in use today by another company despite being 44years old. We found it very useful especially for fetching parts it was very reliable and you could park it in most small spaces.

  18. Chris Bater UK

    Hello Don. The name Twini is new to me but sounds interesting. If you are referring to the Moke, this was a open structure design, virtually a floor pan with chunky sills (rocker panels?) and a bulkhead (firewall) and windscreen. I think the thinking was a very lightweight military communications vehicle that was air dropable, a sort of modern version of the Willys jeep, but there is no evidence that it ever considered as a goer by the armed forces, rather too lightweight and I suspect fragile (subframes and the like) to take the pounding of a conflict terrain. The Moke did become very famous for a while in the TV series “the Prisoner” a strange 1960,s offering that had a bit of a cult following both sides of the Atlantic. As I understand it, production of the Moke shifted to Australia, where given the sunny climate they became a quirky leisure option. Given the low production numbers, good example now command prices that look more like telephone numbers. CB

  19. Delta_T

    When I was in the army (back in 1985), my commander actually drove one of these on a daily basis. It was British Racing Green. I didn’t like the guy so I didn’t like the trucklet and considered it to be a motorized wheelbarrow, especially in that color. I am over this now and actually would mind restoring one of these.

    • Chris Bater UK

      Trucklet….What a perfect label! I have seen both RAF and Royal Navy livery versions of the pickup, airfields and air stations (RN) seem to have been natural habitats for these runabouts.

  20. Don Andreina

    Hi Chris. The Twini was a Moke with a twin engines, one front and one rear, feeding the wheels. From what little I know, it was developed for the British Army but never used. I think there was a problem with getting the engines and diffs to synch

  21. Chris Bater UK

    Hello again Don. Now that you mention it, I do have vague memories of this minibeast, but I,ve never seen any visual details. Such strange ideas are not uncommon where the mini is concerned, there have been several attempts at producing the Worlds shortest mini, and with some notable successes, stretch limo versions also crop up from time to time, mini “tricks” are endless. For a cracking restoration pickup try ebay number, 121184604664 and for a super looking Moke try, 111218383313. Christopher

  22. Trevor Toombs

    There are many good examples in the museum at Gaydon near Coventry UK. I think I remember seeing the twin engine version there. I have a modified 1979 Mini Pick up but unfortunately it needs a new floor soon. Runs 1275, 7×13 de-seamed but this was how I bought it.
    Check out http://www.minipickupinternational.org.uk .

  23. Brother John

    It’s a (Mk II-era) Austin Mini 1/4 ton Pick-up. Never was called a truck. It’s not that rare, but this one is good as it still has the hoops for the canvas ’tilt cover’ as they are called. The rear construction differs from the Austin Mini Countryman / Morris Mini Traveler / van versions, but sheet metal is available here in UK. (I say “Mk II era” because it has the round Mk II-style bonnet/hood badge, but I am not sure that the pick-up underwent any changes when the Mk II Mini saloons came out late 1960s. Again, not sure about the pick-up, but the the van versions, a passenger’s seat was an optional extra, as was top coat paint! You could get one on the road with a lot of good English pound notes returned to your hand by handing over £400 UK.

  24. John b

    When the isetta was built under iso in italy, they had a pick up version.

  25. DetroitGary

    I don’t know if they made a LHD model and exported it to the States but this Austin looks like the trucklet I drove for the BMC. Austin, Jaguar, Rolls Royce dealer, Falvey Auto on Woodward Ave. outside of Detroit. I ran errands, shuttled parts between the warehouse and the body shop and dealership. It was British Racing Green with a green canvas top suspended across bent wood stays. I thought it was so cool to be driving this cute green thing among the muscle cars along Woodward in the late 1960’s.

  26. Dolphin Member

    Chris Bater,
    I had a rented Mini Moke in Barbados back some decades ago, and it was great fun roaring around on the ‘wrong’ side of the road at all of 30 MPH. The best fun was at roundabouts, trying to figure out how to get around without straying out of your proper lane while at the same time steering from the right front seat and shifting with your left hand. They had a light fabric top held up by a thin metal tube frame and were the perfect vehicle to get you to the remote beaches on the high-surf side of the island. Loved it.

    I never knew it was derived from an army vehicle. It was just so small and built-for-fun, I would never have guessed that.

    Altho I don’t prefer sideways-mounted front-engine/front wheel drive cars as performance vehicles, it’s indisputible that Issigonis came up with one of the most successful layouts in the history of the automobile when he designed the 1959 Mini. It was small because roads were small, resources were limited, and needs were modest in the UK back then. The fact that so many Minis were sold and that so many successful variants, like this Mini truck and the Mini Moke, were derived from the Mini platform just confirms the point.

    • Chris Bater UK

      Roger that Dolphin, I could,nt agree more. The mini story stands to roll and roll. The email traffic just on this one one example is testament to that, its been a fun 24 hours, such a small car can still generate such huge Worldwide interest. Christopher

  27. SamuelC

    How interesting!
    I did a project like this – not too long ago.

    I have a video of my work on youtube…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-c4QAx6VpU

    • Chris Bater UK

      Outstanding Samuel, inspirational stuff, with very tasteful upgrades that remove nothing from the original concept. Ever thought of some 10 inch Minilite wheels to replace the pressed steel ones, the effect would be stunning. Christopher

      • SamuelC

        Hi Chris, thank you for the compliments :)
        The pickup did eventually receive a wheel upgrade as well.

  28. Chris Member

    FINALLY a realistic seller….”most certainly not be ‘an easy weekend’ project. It is a major undertaking that will take both skill and significant investment to complete”

    Way to many sellers describe a project like this as ‘just needs a little work’
    Neat little truck

  29. Cameron Bater UK

    These were a very attractive car, and as my father says the base car was the Austin/Morris Mini and variations were produced upon that shell and chassis, a few examples are The pick up, Estate and the Austin 1300 (all the looks of a mini just bigi)
    My personal favourite though if talking about small cars of the British were the Morris cars, there were the Pickups the estates (Traveller and van (with or without windows)) essentially they were the same as the Volkswagen Transporters, you got various versions and you could almost infinatly customise them – they even produced an air con add on at one point although this wasn’t anywhere near effective as a MK2 Honda CRV Just ask my DAD :)
    This would however make a nice restoration if you had the time – there isn’t much bodywork but the interior might need an overhaul – as ever check the wiring looms I would treat it to a new engine (maybe a 1.2 MG)

    • Chris Bater UK

      The Austin-Morris 1100/1300 was indeed the bigger brother to the Mini sharing many of its components. I believe the US export version was known as the Austin America. Though almost as much fun to drive as the Mini, it lacked the performance needed for the “bigger” US road experience and they are probably quite rare States side. There was some sales success “down under” but again longer distances resulted in a 1500cc engine being fitted, I think it was called the Austin Victoria (?) and may have had an extended boot (trunk). I wonder if this engine could be shoehorned into a Mini…food for thought CB

      • Don Andreina

        Just looked up the Victoria. It was a Spanish variant based on the South African Austin Apache. Pretty much an 1100 body with a new face. One page showed a version with a boot. We never got this in Australia; we got the ‘1100’ and ‘1800’. The best body that came out of this series was that 3 litre saloon with an extended wheelbase, I can’t remember which badge.

      • Don Andreina

        I just remembered the Austin Kimberley, an Aussie variant that could be the one your mate photographed. It had a revised face and a boot.

  30. Chris Bater UK

    Good afternoon Don. Well, well, well….how international can this BMC story get? The only reason I mentioned the Victoria is that a Navy friend of mine photographed one for me whilst in Australia when he was on a officer exchange, I assumed the Victoria bit was after the OZ state rather than any link to royality There is a youtube link that shows a very proud owner taking a video tour around his exceptionally clean Victoria. Now theres the Apache to do a bit of research on, and it all started with the Mini. The 3 litre saloon you mention was an Austin (in the UK) based around the Morris 1800 body tub (said to have been one of the most rigid ever made!) but with an extended boot and nose. However…. it was rear wheel drive and powered by the MGC 3 litre straight 6 engine. Not many where made, around 3,000 if memory serves me well, I think they were a brave attempt to upgrade the long standing Austin 3 litre Westmonster (minster), but the ongoing oil crisis of the early 70,s was a death sentence to such thirsty designs and saw sales stall and models withdrawn.The Austin 3 litre was also a bit of an oddity which did it no favours, alright it had an “elegant” front end and a attractive boot (trunk) but the middle was too obviously a Morris 1800, was the extra cost worth it? when also available was the very shapely (also Morris 1800 inspired) Wolseley 6, with its more modern 6 cyl alloy engine and excellent performance. Christopher

  31. Chris Bater UK

    Good evening Don. For a superb Austin 3 litre, try ebay number 390 694 656 424 (no gaps). This is a real memory lane job, a superb example. Christopher

    • Jesse Staff

      You can post the links Chris. Here is the listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/390694656424

    • Don Andreina

      Thanks for the link Chris. I agree that the middle was too close to the 1800, but I really like the proportions of this car. In another life where the 1800 didn’t exist, this design would serve as an excellent update of the Pathfinder. All it needs is the Daimler 4.5.

      • Chris Bater UK

        Hello Don. Pathfinder eh?….now don.t get me started. Talking of things Riley, and to return to things Mini, have you seen the Riley Elf on ebay at the top of this screen, sheer delight, must be ultra rare in the States

      • Chris Bater

        Good morning Don. The Austin Kimberley eh!? I wonder if you,re right, it sort of sounds correct. The list of these mini-based variants just seems to keep growing, fascinating stuff, where/what next?? Christopher.

  32. Chris Bater UK

    Good morning Jesse. I was wondering if a more direct link was possible. Thank you for overseeing such a brilliant site. Christopher

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