Reader Submissions: Sixteen Year Old Buys Mini, Can't Legally Drive It

Sixteen Year Old Buys Mini, Can’t Legally Drive It

By Petrolicious Productions
May 21, 2014

Owner and photographer: Thomas Billam

Year, Make, and Model: 1977 Mini 850cc

Location: Scotland

Editor’s Note: This is a Your Car Feature in two parts.

Part One

My name is Thomas and I am a sixteen-year-old, car-crazed teen who loves Petrolicious. Although, due to my age I cannot legally drive where I am (Scotland), I cherish every little moment my parents let me behind the wheel. Over the past few years I have been saving up every last penny, am currently working two part-time jobs and doing some extra work additionally with family. All my efforts have been aimed at the perfect first car and, goodness, has the decision been difficult!

Dreams of modern Fiat 500s passed quickly as I knew I wanted a classic. A moment of sudden realisation dawned on me last October, when a friend who shares a similar interest in cars bought a classic Austin Mini. With his Dad we took it up the top of a hilly area nearby and I got my first taste of a Mini along the winding empty roads. It was fantastic: the little 998cc engine buzzing ’round corners, us rowing through the gears whilst hugging the tarmac like a go-kart. I knew then that I must have one!!!

It was last week when I bought my first car, and I’m so glad I chose a Mini! It’s beautiful: a classic 1977 with a little 850cc motor. Even though I am not even old enough to drive it on the roads yet, when we pick the Mini up, I’ll do all I can to look after and keep it all original. What intrigues me most is that it is a special edition: a Queen’s Jubilee Edition, to be precise. I had never seen one before and I knew it must be special. My Dad and I are making the great journey to go down and get her from Worcester. It’ll be a five hour drive down in a rental car and we are hoping to drive it back up. I can’t believe I finally have a car of my own, I’m so excited!

Part Two

The trip was fantastic and the car far exceeded my expectations. The only problem was that we left quite late after having spent a long time at the seller’s house, mostly talking about Minis. Darkness fell early and I wasn’t able to take as many pictures as I would have liked. However, it didn’t begin as planned: my Dad had ordered tyres for the trip back as the ones it had looked very tired, and they replacements just arrived as we were about to be on our way. After they were fitted (at a specialist Mini garage), the rearview mirror fell off, windscreen wiper snapped and we thought we were about to begin the voyage from hell. But she was perfect. We took to the motorway for most of the journey and had the trucks flying past with the drivers staring down on us through the sun roof! We even passed two Minis on the side of the motorway, but, luckily their misfortune didn’t spread to my little 850.

Since then, I have spent every spare moment on the car, stripped it down and found some rust (as expected). The Mini is now in a friend’s garage with another Mini, and I’ve stripped the paint to take the Mini to the welders and now the car is rust and hole free. With the little knowledge we have, my friend and I also managed to flush the cooling system, fix a faulty fuel gauge and other bits and bobs.

I’m thinking, “Buy a roof rack, pack the Mini up, and go wherever the hell I want to go. Perhaps I’ll take a road trip across Britain with some mates!” In the future, maybe next summer when I can legally drive the car, there will be many stories to follow. It’s going to be awesome!!

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1 year ago

what a swell story and great beginning .Your father must be as proud as a peacock !Merry X-mas.

7 years ago

Great article! Well done Thomas! Good luck with her and I am in no doubt you will be driving her legally soon! A very proud brother. D

Chris Robins
7 years ago

You go bud! Keep her original and drive the hell of her when you get you license. Do it now even!!! I did when I was 16, ’73 Alfa Spider which my dad bought new and I still have. Great stuff. Take lotsa pictures too.

James Nolan
James Nolan
7 years ago

As far as I recall, Jubillee specials were a late 1975 to early 1976 model built for the Dutch market. If your car is one of these and not just one with some aftermarket or dealer add ons, it may mean it was imported in 77 and just put on plates for that year and given aRHD conversion. A way to check would be whether it was built in Belgium as most other euro minis were at the time. to do so, look at the chassis plate on the slam-panel at the front. I’d the number begins with ‘A’ it was built at Longbridge. I’d there’s a ‘B’ there then it was built in Belgium. Really intrigued by your car though, with whatever price you get that for it is a steal as it is extremely rare and possibly unique in the uk.
I’m 20 years old myself and I’ve had my little 79 Mini 1000 since I was 17. They’re the greatest first car ever, I wouldn’t swap mine for anything else, which is why I’ve had it so long!

Kyle Gordon
7 years ago

Fantastic story and lovely to hear! I started a similar voyage about 14 years ago at the age of 18, with a Series 3 Land Rover. I still have it, and it’s still going strong.

Also in Scotland, so if you see a red Series 3 or AC 3000ME at the central belt shows, give me a shout πŸ™‚

7 years ago

Great choice of first car. I also had a mini for 3 years as a starter, great fun. Good advice I received from an elderly engineer was given the engine and gearbox share the same sump change the oil often and use a good quality product.

Thomas Lafond
Thomas Lafond
7 years ago

My name is Thomas and my first car was also a mini at …. 16 (I’m 26 now and it feels like it was ages ago…). The police in my village was used to see me driving it and they never stopped me even if they perfectly knew I had no license. I guess they liked the car (and knew my father). It was black 850cc with white roof and white stripes.

I loved that car and regret it often. I changed few years ago for a 323i E21. Not exactly the same philosophy but a lot of fun too!

joe brosseau
joe brosseau(@sloppyjoe)
7 years ago

This brings back memories for me. When I was 15 I bought my first car. A 1969 El Camino. I had to wait another year to drive it legally, but it gave me a chance to put a bigger engine in and drive it around the neighborhood from time to time until I could get my license. Good stuff mate!

Pieter Sikkens
Pieter Sikkens(@e30320i)
7 years ago

Bought the perfect car. Easy to work on and lots of cheap parts available. I bought a classic mini around the same time. Restored it completely. Year later some chick wrecked it. She wasn’t payint attention when she left her parking spot. As a replacement I bought an BMW E30 6-cylinder. Still missing that raw sounding 1000cc and the go kart feeling.

Awesome first car, cherish it πŸ˜‰

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle(@mosler)
7 years ago

Thanks for the pictures and thanks for showing of this beauty of a Mini. You may not be able to drive it yet but soon enough you will be able to take it for a good long drive. I always love hearing stories like this its one reason I love coming to Petrolicious everyday. Not to mention that you may be young but at least you have good taste for your first car.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
7 years ago

Great story and kudos for wanting to keep it original. When I was 17 quite a few of my mates had Minis most of them sporting Minilite alloys, tiny button steering wheels and enough spotlights on the front to completely blank off the grille (and they wondered why they overheated).

Mark Hancheroff
Mark Hancheroff(@mhanch)
7 years ago

Very Nice! I love the old minis, the new ones are just a bit too German. πŸ™‚ That’s a car well worth taking care of.