Reader Submissions: Austin Mini Rally Car Finds New Life as Daily Driver

Austin Mini Rally Car Finds New Life as Daily Driver

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
May 9, 2014
16 comments

Owner and photographer: Todd Dunning

Year, Make, and Model: 1964 Austin Mini Mk.1 Saloon DeLuxe

Location: Redwoods Shores, California

I’ve always wanted one of these, for as long as I can remember. And I was looking specifically for a Mark 1 that had the paint and body finished so I could complete the easy stuff. When I found this car it was undergoing a restoration that was about seventy percent complete. Luckily for me, it wiped out the previous owner’s bank account. I swooped in, scooped it up, and finished it. I got a brand new engine and transmission, which in Mini parlance is called a Power Unit because they are one unit, joined together at the sump. Oh, and a fire extinguisher: the best peace of mind for a British car owner. Now, this is my daily driver, only because few British owners are crazy enough to do so. It really wakes you up bouncing along the freeway at 85 miles per hour on ten-inch wheels with an eleven-inch steering wheel, especially with the fast-ratio steering rack. Better not sneeze!…

It really stands out in Silicon Valley, probably the most anti-car environment in the country, with the worst drivers and most boring cars. And you really have to be ready when you hear a new noise. It is unquestionably the most attention-getting car I’ve ever been in and a major chick-magnet. Yet it seats the whole family of four comfortably.

But the history is really cool too! The car was rallied in Northern England in the sixties according to the FIA docs. We don’t know the owner’s names, just that it was rallied by someone in the Wakefield & District Motorsport Club. Since the car was restored to late ’60s race spec, I did the decals myself in Illustrator to match the old photo as well as possible. The Cibie Oscars are my little addition.

OK, now to try and get home with a clutch that is making me want to go postal…

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RaidenAllensohel90leiniweinTodd DunningMatt Smart Recent comment authors
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RaidenAllen
RaidenAllen

I read that Post and got it fine and informative.

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Matt Smart
Matt Smart

Apart from the The 1980s Mini Mayfair seats you have a brilliant little mini. A very nice restoration as well, I’m very jealous. It thoroughly deserves to be out enjoying the Californian sunshine after its life in the wet but beautiful Yorkshire area of England.

Todd Dunning

Lol Matt – man, was I hoping nobody would see those seats! You’re spot on, they’ve been the bane of my existence and bum. Finally am getting some of the Newton Commercial rally 2000 seats thank goodness. I wish the FIA sheet had more info about who the drivers were and more of its Yorkshire life, which sounds pretty exotic to us in the colonies.

ernest broekstra
ernest broekstra

very nice car, take care of it.

Todd Dunning

Ernest, you Dutch are the most intense Mini people outside the UK, if not even more so. Check Roald Rakers’ miniracers on Facebook. Coolest stuff ever.

Bernie
Bernie

I grew up in Silicon Valley, way before it was even known as Silicon Valley. All around the Bay Area, and hanging out in Los Gatos before I even had a license, I’ve seen everything imaginable. Muira S’s, real first edition GT40’s, practically every type of Ferrari you can name, Porsches, Rolls, Aston, all both old and new, and yes, even first run Mini’s. All way more than once, seemingly regularly driven.
I agree about the lack of driving skill, but certainly not the boring cars.
Maybe you’ve never spent time there?

Todd Dunning

Bernie you’re absolutely right about Los Gatos… I’ve been at the little Saturday cars and coffee you guys have a few times there. Definitely makes me eat my words.

I’m mid-peninsula, so you know where my perspective is. And just a couple weeks ago I was rear-ended in this car in San Francisco with my entire family of four inside, as luck would have it. With both cars stopped at a red light.

sadlotus
sadlotus
Gonzalo

my dream car

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

I always have a little place in my heart and garage for the Mini. Lightweight, good handling, and a design almost everyone knows.I love seeing any Mini with the extra driving lights across the front like that. I think when most people see the Mini they think what a nice small car but don’t realize that they made pretty decent race cars back in the day. I love all the pics in this article and thanks again for showing it to us.

Taylor Nelson
Taylor Nelson

Okay, as a life-long resident of Silicon Valley, I’ll admit we don’t always have the most amazing cars as daily drivers, but I really don’t think we’re an anti-car environment at all. There are thousands upon thousands of us here who are serious gearheads and take great pride in our classics.

Just the way the owner of this Mini must. It’s a fantastic little car!!

Todd Dunning

Taylor quite right – I did overstate that – I meant more towards the SF people, not the rest of us south and east. Thanks for the compliment sir!

Shervinator
Shervinator

But I do agree with you as a fellow resident as well! When you’re driving a classic hot rod in a sea of bland silver Priuses, it’s a little tough to gain the appreciation you deserve.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram

Lovely little car – and great to see that little slice of Yorkshire (my homeland) out in California!