On the Seventh Day, God Created the Mini
Eastern Europe isn’t typically the first place one associates with the original, Issigonis-era Mini, but that’s exactly where enthusiastic collector Balázs Linczmayer resides, in beautiful Győr, Hungary. Below, we ask him what it’s like to restore, own, and drive a British icon in such an exotic and unexpected locale.
Q: How did you come to own your car?
A: It had been sitting at a car dealership for years, in pretty bad shape. I was there looking at a MkI Golf GTI for a friend of mine when I mentioned offhand that I was also looking to buy a classic Mini. The dealer then walked me to a hidden nook in the back of a field, where the Mini was, completely overgrown with weeds.
Q: Have you always wanted a Mini?
A: In Hungary, and generally in Eastern Europe, the classic Mini is considered very rare. I was eight years old when I first saw one up close—a car mechanic let me sit inside it. I then decided that my pathetic life wasn’t worth anything if I couldn’t have a Mini.
Q: What is it like to drive your car?
A: A Mini is a special driving experience. Instead of springs, it sits on small rubber pads and its tiny tires are pushed out to the extreme corners of its body. The transmission is located under the engine—both run on the same lubrication—therefore the center of gravity is quite low. All of that combined with the weird angle of the steering wheel gives it a go-kart type feel, with an unexpectedly high cornering speed.
Q: How do people react to it?
A: I guess that’s the best thing about having a Mini. Everyone loves the mini; however, no one envies it. People passing by are forced to smile, and other drivers show the car courtesy.
Q: What is special about this car?
A: It’s a 1970 MK III Austin Mini 1000. During the restoration (2000-2003) I wasn’t exactly aiming for authenticity, and in the end it was painted similarly to the final run classic Minis made from 1990-2000. The seats were upgraded from vinyl to leather, too. It’s been fitted with wide plastic fenders, again reminiscent of later series cars. The 10-inch ATS Stern alloys I went with were very popular during the ’70s. In the near future, I’m planning on restoring the whole car to its original shape.
Q: What’s your favorite road to drive?
A: The Serpentine Highway. The whole car is very sleek—it just eats up sharp curves, and the differences to other cars completely disappear.
Q: What’s your ideal day spent driving?
A: Not the rainy/foggy, English-style days, that’s for sure. Sunny, average of 75F, weekend, low traffic. My other Mini, a ’91, is awesome to drive in the snow. No surprise the Mini won four Monte Carlo rallies during the ’60s.
Q: Are there any difficulties to driving an original Mini in modern traffic?
A: None. If anything, because of its single-circuit brake system you have to pay closer attention as they require a firmer step on the pedal.
Q: Do you ever race the Mini?
A: Oh no. The race number inside the white circle just embraces the British feeling, it’s just a design feature. However I do race at old-timer competitions where speed is not a factor, only to record average terms.
Q: What other classic British or microcars would you like to own?
A: More and more Minis. Only Minis. “And on the seventh day God created the Mini.”
In addition, our Petrolisti friends at Turbometal Motorblog have generously shared with us a really cool video they put together in which Balázs’ Mini goes head-to-head with a speeding train—you’ll have to watch in order to see who emerges victorious. Click here.
Photography by Turbometal Motorblog