SHEDMASTERS

MINIS & MOKES

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - WORDS & PHO­TOS  GUY ALLEN

IT’S A LIT­TLE WEIRD

wan­der­ing into the mod­est shop in Syd­ney’s north, duck­ing around the Mokes and Minis (when was the last time you had to do that?) and spot­ting the Ley­land and BMC para­pher­na­lia dec­o­rat­ing the walls. It’s a step back in time.

Ac­cord­ing to An­drew Ber­gan, who runs the place with fa­ther Gra­ham, that’s en­tirely de­lib­er­ate. “We’re a fam­ily-run busi­ness of 35-odd years and have been here in Har­bord Road all that time,” he ex­plains.

“My fa­ther started the busi­ness in 1983 and over the decades it has changed sev­eral times but we still set our­selves up like a deal­er­ship from the six­ties and sev­en­ties. We do ev­ery­thing from sales, ser­vice, new and re­con­di­tioned parts, and restora­tions. With the lack of ve­hi­cles, the restora­tions have re­ally taken off.”

Over that time, they’ve seen the role of the Mini it­self trans­form rad­i­cally from what used to be cheap and cheer­ful trans­port to highly prized clas­sic.

“Dad’s al­ways been in­volved in au­to­mo­tive,” con­tin­ued Ber­gan. “He started fi­bre­glass­ing back in the 60s. He had a busi­ness called GB Wheels when wide chromies were the go – just be­fore the 70s – when the likes of ROH and al­loy wheels started to take over. They pro­duced 50,000 wheels a year.

“He then started a wreck­ing yard, which led on to spe­cial­is­ing in Minis. He’d owned his first one back in the early six­ties, so it had al­ways been part of his life­style. In the mid-eight­ies he started to spe­cialise in clas­sic Mini and Moke. No-one on the north side was do­ing them and back then there were around 15 or 18 spe­cial­ists about in Syd­ney. Now there is us and a cou­ple of smaller guys. It’s prob­a­bly an age thing – I’m sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, which is why the busi­ness is still go­ing. Though

“THEY’RE REGIS­TERED GO-KARTS AND YOU CAN’T SAY THAT ABOUT A LOT OF CLAS­SICS”

Dad is nearly 80 and he’s still here six days a week.

“We never thought peo­ple would pay us to re­store a Mini or a Mini Moke, es­pe­cially! No-one wanted them years ago. But they’ve be­come a life­style car now.”

With the change in sta­tus comes a change in ex­pec­ta­tions – the cars are ex­pected to per­form. “Peo­ple ring up say­ing I want an en­gine for my car and they don’t want a low-com­pres­sion 998, they want some­thing that will have some torque and be en­joy­able to drive and war­rant own­ing the car,” said Ber­gan. “And they want once a year ser­vice, so we look at elec­tronic ig­ni­tion and mod­ern starter mo­tors.

“We race Minis and have raced them for 30 or 40 years, so a lot of what we know has come from that. It doesn’t have to be a racer, just a lit­tle more torque and more mod­ern, with less ser­vice in­volved, boosted disc brakes.

“Be­cause ev­ery­one is driv­ing space ships to­day, they just want some­thing that looks great but is en­joy­able to drive. A lot of the clas­sic cars are a lit­tle long in the tooth now. But a Cooper S and sim­i­lar cars are still great fun to drive. They’re regis­tered go-karts and you can’t say that about a lot of clas­sics !”

TOP A happy sight – clas­sic Minis look­ing for new own­ers.RIGHT Gra­ham and An­drew Ber­gan run the show.

ABOVE Gra­ham and crew use their com­pe­ti­tion knowl­edge.RIGHT How’s that for pre­sen­ta­tion?

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