WANT to buy a rust-riddled old motor in desperate need of restoration? The engine hasn’t been started for years – and you can have it for a mere £40,000.
No, I haven’t completely lost my marbles but someone with a lot more spare dosh than I has just laid out the money for a totally unrestored Mini.
The thing is, though, this was an original, classic Austin Mini Seven De Luxe saloon, and it was only the eighth car of its type to roll off the Longbridge production line back in 1959.
When it went under the hammer at Bonhams auction house the other week, it was expected to fetch around £15,000. In fact, some fierce bidding pushed the eventual sale price all the way up to £40,250.
Despite its decrepit state, the Mini, which has just over 30,000 miles on the clock, boasts records of servicing, such as a sticker in the door jamb showing routine maintenance carried out at 19,000 miles.
It still has its original number plate XLL27 and is still in its original Farina Grey paint, albeit rather pebble-dashed with rust. It is thought to be the fourth-oldest surviving Mini. Others are in collections in the UK and Japan.
The auctioneer’s description states that the driver’s door has been replaced, but the rest of the bodywork is totally original, with such period features such as a glass windscreen washer bottle.
There are signs of corrosion in the front floors, A-pillars, sills, doors, rear seat well, boot floor and rear valance, meaning the new owner will need deep pockets to complete a restoration. In view of the sale price, that’s unlikely to be a problem.
The Mini’s 848cc engine will also have to undergo refurbishment. Despite its low mileage, the motor hasn’t turned “for many years”.
The auctioneers did not reveal who was the seller of the Mini or who bought it, although rumour has it the car may be headed for Japan. And it is not known whether there are plans to restore the car or leave it untouched as the oldest unrestored example of this iconic model in existence.
If you’re thinking what I’m thinking – that someone out there has a great deal more money than sense – then bear in mind that only a day or two after the Mini was sold, an anonymous buyer in New York spent £74 million to make Edvard Munch’s ghastly painting ‘The Scream’ the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. Wonder if it’s the same buyer?