1959 Austin Seven £19,995

A very orig­i­nal Mini and what’s more, it’s from the cov­eted first year of pro­duc­tion. Paul Hardi­man slides be­hind the wheel

Classic Cars (UK) - - Driven -

This Mini is from the first six months of pro­duc­tion, built at Long­bridge on De­cem­ber 29, 1959 and despatched the fol­low­ing day. Stour Val­ley Mo­tor Co in Stour­bridge sold it to one Miss Brewer, who had it ser­viced by French’s Garage in Seaford, East Sus­sex for the first two years – an orig­i­nal in­voice re­mains from 1962 at 9954 miles.

Still in orig­i­nal Speed­well Blue, it’s never been fully re­stored, but has had re­pair work over the years. In­evitably, both sills have been re­placed and ap­pear to be the early type, but are slightly dif­fer­ent pat­terns (one round and one square jack­ing hole), and they’re slightly wavy from jack­ing. Var­i­ous floor re­pairs have re­sulted in the jig brack­ets be­ing lost, but that’s com­mon on all but the most metic­u­lous restora­tions. Weld­ing isn’t the neat­est, but is at its most Fer­rari-es­que where re­pair sec­tions have been let in at in­ner wing cor­ners, pos­si­bly to join the new (later, with brake cool­ing cut-outs) front panel. There’s day­light be­tween rear seam fin­isher and main body, where more re­pairs have taken place, though the rear sub­frame is good, prob­a­bly a re­place­ment, and the floors are well pro­tected. Roof gut­ters have no cor­ner drain holes, al­though some 1959s never did. The re­paint is show­ing its age, with some sur­face rust on rear pil­lars and a patch on the bon­net. It sounds a bit damn­ing but is typ­i­cal of an orig­i­nal Mini of this age that’s not been reshelled or fully re­stored.

Most bright­work is good, with a few rear bumper dings and slightly pit­ted boot han­dle chrome. There’s a hinge-down rear num­ber­plate for car­ry­ing out­size lug­gage on an open bootlid. Front tyres are old Miche­lin XZXS, rears 2008-dated Mar­shalls with good tread, and an old In­dia ra­dial on the spare. The orig­i­nal jack re­mains in its bag, and there’s a new ex­haust.

In­side, it’s mostly orig­i­nal. It was specced from new with a heater plus side trims in car­pet­board and leather­cloth, and th­ese are still very good, as are door trims. The head­lin­ing is in­tact though a bit stained, and car­pets are newer re­place­ments. One front seat has split, but along the seams, so it can be restitched. Dash trim is all good and the steer­ing wheel isn’t cracked.

The re­place­ment en­gine is from the car’s early life, pos­si­bly caused by the over­heat­ing that af­fected many early Minis. Oil is clean and the en­gine bay looks cor­rect al­though the orig­i­nal glass washer bot­tle has been re­placed with plas­tic.

It starts eas­ily on the floor but­ton and is bril­liant to drive with com­mu­nica­tive and slop-free steer­ing and no creaks from the rub­ber-cone sus­pen­sion. The all-drum brakes pull up straight, and typ­i­cally syn­chros are a lit­tle weak but im­prove as the trans­mis­sion warms up. There are no temp or oil gauges but the fuel gauge works.

It’s very us­able as-is, or could be gen­tly im­proved start­ing with bet­ter sills but, as the ven­dor says, ‘We urge the new owner to think hard be­fore the many sto­ries this car can tell are hid­den un­der fresh paint.’

This Seven was built in the first year of pro­duc­tion. In 1959 cars were badged Austin Seven or Mor­ris Mini-mi­nor

Mostly orig­i­nal in­te­rior in­cludes heater

Re­place­ment en­gine from early in the car’s life

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