Tuesday December 4, 2018
‘There are “Mini Drivers” and “Mini Owners”. The former uses their car but put it in the garage at the first signs of trouble, but the latter do all they can, come what may’. These are the words of Jonathan Scrog Ellis, owner of the 1984 Mini which is our Car of The Month. ‘I bought it three months ago from a lad in Bournemouth, and I drove it all the way back to Boston in Lincolnshire’
Jonathan has ‘owned more or less the full gamut of Minis over the years, starting from when I was in my late teens – which, of course, was very recently! In fact, I’ve had them since I began driving and my first one was an N-reg model with a 1,098cc engine. I recently came to the decision that with values the way they are, it was “now or never” time to buy another’.
The Ellis Mini was originally finished in Russet Brown, and it was bought ‘as a rolling project. When I started looking for a Mini, my parameters were that it had to date from 1984 or earlier and be on ten-inch wheels as I think the quality was better on those models’.
34 years ago, Austin-Rover’s marketing emphasis its more recent family cars such as the Metro, and the Mini was rather downplayed. Jonathan thinks that ‘it was by the late 1980s that they moved from being the original “second car” to becoming a cult vehicle’.
As for the open road, ‘I just enjoy the whole experience of Mini driving. It is ideal for B-roads and is very bouncy and very nippy’. On the motorway 70 is ‘achievable; she will keep up with the traffic’ while ’80 is ‘possible’. He also notes ‘the luxury’ of the cabin – ‘oil temperature and water temperature gauges plus fresh air vents!’. As a mark of how distant 1984 now appears, one brochure proudly boasted that ‘rear seat anchorages are standard’.
The usual reaction Mr. Ellis receives from passers-by on seeing the Mini is ‘smiles and waves, with looks of amazement from younger people who have never seen anything like it. When I pull up at service stations and the like, virtually everyone or their dad/mum/uncle/aunts seem to have driven a Mini as their first car’. His advice for buyers is that while the mechanics are ‘quite easy to work on – check the history and beware of rust. What initially looks like a minor issue can turn into a two-year project’.
At the present time, Jonathan is seeking some ‘1980s period accessories such as louvres for the rear windows. I am one of those people who would rather buy a scruffy looking original part than a smart reconstruction’.
And today, the Ellis Mini is a reminder of the days when they were as much a part of the average high street as Duran Duran blaring from a branch of Our Price Records and 30-year-old punks crowded around a table in the local Wimpy Bar. It is a car with the distinction of once being part of the fabric of everyday life.