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Seven Splendid Special Edition Minis

This is far from an exhaustive short list of the vast number of special Minis – merely seven examples that caught my eye during the 1970s and 1980s…

Seven Splendid Special Edition Minis

  1. 1976 1000 Special LE ‘Stripey’

    The first, of the limited-edition Minis, with its reclining front seats, twin doors mirrors, striped cloth upholstery (of course) and fresh air vents. The paint finish was the Brooklands Green usually seen on the MGB. Some of these special features would subsequently appear on the 1978 Series IV models while the ‘Stripey’ is now one of the rarest of all Minis.
  2. 1979 1100 Special

    You take the Daimler dear, I’ll drive the Mini’ – a quite brilliantly naff slogan that belied a very desirable car. The 1100 Special was launched in August 1979 to celebrate the 20th birthday of the Issigonis masterpiece and it was evident that it had been devised with a great deal of attention. The colours were either Silver Grey or Rose Metallic, there was a vinyl roof, extra instruments, tinted glass, alloy wheels and cut-pile carpeting while under the bonnet was the Clubman’s 1,098cc engine. With such a Mini, it is easy to understand why sales doubled BL’s original predictions.
  3. 1984 Mini 25

    The Silver Jubilee of the Mini was marked by the 25, a comparatively low-key and desirable combination of Nimbus Grey coachwork with a stereo radio-cassette, a leather-covered steering wheel and – my favourite detail of all – red seat belts among the extra equipment.
  4. 1985 Mini Ritz

    Yes, for just £3,799 (number plates and delivery extra), you too could join the smart set in the Ritz, aka a Mini City in Silver Leaf with some appealing trim modifications. So, hurry to your local Austin-Rover dealer as ‘not everybody gets to live it up in the Ritz’.
  5. 1985 Mini Chelsea

    To mark the five millionth Mini, the Chelsea sought to combine ‘the spirit of the Swinging Sixties with the trendy idiom of the eighties’. Fortunately, despite such awe-inspiringly dire copy, it was an extremely agreeable package with its Osprey Marle upholstery and Targa Red exterior. Indeed, the Chelsea was not only the first of the ‘London’ special editions but the first Mini to deliberately target the Yuppie customer.
  6. 1988 Mini Designer

    AKA the ‘Mary Quant’, as this was no ordinary City. Just open the door and prepare to be amazed by the black and white striped upholstery that was a) designed by Dame Mary and b) so vibrant that wearing Roy Orbison shades at the wheel was a must. And naturally, you would need to specify an elaborate sound system to hear the appropriate choice of Carnaby Street era music – Putty in Your Hands by The Yardbirds comes to mind.
  7. 1989 Mini 30

    Three incredible decades of the Mini were commemorated by the appropriately named 30, which was based on the Mayfair and featured Minilite wheels and part-leather seating. And one of the stars of this year’s Pride of Ownership at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show is a Cherry Example that has been owned by Brenda Roberts since 2004. As the adverts put it – ‘you never forget your first Mini’:
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