It’s a Mini, but not as we know it!

Classics Monthly - - Driver’s Diary -

Maybe it was the re­fined post Dy­na­mat hush. Maybe it was the crys­tal clar­ity of Raido 2’s Ken Bruce from the new Alpine S-S65 speak­ers, as in­stalled in is­sue 272, coax­ing the MoT tester into a re­laxed state, but I needn’t have wor­ried when drop­ping the Tom­cat off for it’s an­nual test, as it flew threw with barely an ad­vi­sory.

I’d al­ready com­pleted an oil and fil­ter change and checked all I could at home, but I was pleas­antly sur­prised when the test didn’t throw up any hid­den horrors of brakes, sen­sors or chas­sis rust. In cel­e­bra­tion, I treated the Rover to an over­due four-wheel align­ment to get the best out of the low­ered suspension and it now drives beau­ti­fully.

If you missed that guide about the sound­proof­ing, I stripped the in­te­rior and fit­ted noise dead­en­ing to the doors and par­cel shelf and in­stalled a pair of pre­mium speak­ers in place of the tatty OEM items and the dif­fer­ence has been as­ton­ish­ing. The car’s far more re­lax­ing to drive with less road noise and I can en­joy the ra­dio now that its not just au­di­ble but ac­tu­ally clear and loud.

I re­cently dis­cov­ered a se­cret of the ‘New’ MINI world – a

I drove the 100 miles to look at the MINI and found that al­though it was a solid ex­am­ple with no run­ning is­sues, the in­te­rior stank and it had four mis­matched ditch find­ing tyres

R50 Y reg ver­sion. Whilst on a re­cent shoot at the Ox­ford fac­tory, I learnt that dur­ing the build up to re-launch­ing the brand, BMW had to build cars for deal­ers, tech­ni­cal train­ing and press demon­stra­tors be­fore the pub­lic re­veal. So when the pub­lic could buy a new MINI Cooper or One, the ear­li­est would have been the new ‘51 plate. So any Mini with an old ‘ Y’ pre­fix would be in­ter­est­ing.

They also have a few dif­fer­ences, as the cars were still be fi­nalised. Lit­tle things like ‘ Six­ties style Mini logo ped­als, dif­fer­ent scut­tle vents and a lack of roof brac­ing among them. I started look­ing around and found one in the Fens. As with many of these when re- dis­cov­ered it wasn’t in per­fect shape as the dealer had taken it in part- ex and the car was look­ing a lit­tle unloved.

It was the per­fect spec and was what I’d nearly bought in 2001 – a Cooper in Chilli Red with white roof, mir­rors and 15- inch wheels and as I later found out had a BMW build code 999 – Or­der Con­trol First Dealer Cars.

I drove the 100 miles to look at the car and found that al­though it was a solid ex­am­ple with no run­ning is­sues, the in­te­rior stank and it had four mis­matched, close to the limit ditch find­ing tyres, an ex­haust held on by hope and had clearly had a low speed knock, as the bon­net had been pulled back into shape and hand painted. The bumper was cracked and fixed on with ca­ble ties, so I hag­gled and got over half of the price off. But it had that Good Car vibe you some­times get and had the early ped­als, early red in­te­rior and the build date sticker of May 1st re­ally ap­pealed. So with­out so much as a test drive, I handed over £600 and drove the car home. It made the first 90 miles with no is­sues, un­til the back box dropped off the ex­haust sys­tem on the mo­tor­way, and my MINI Ad­ven­ture had be­gun!

The MINI’s build code shows it was one of the first dealer cars.

My newly pur­chased MINI’s first fuel stop. Doesn’t look too bad.

Tom­cat oil change was car­ried out be­fore the car’s an­nual MoT test.

Sound proof­ing the Rover 200 Tom­cat has made a huge dif­fer­ence.

Rover’s door af­ter fit­ting sound proof­ing. In­set: Rover door be­fore.

New speak­ers have im­proved the Rover’s sound sys­tem no end.

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