Sixteen Year Old Buys Mini, Can’t Legally Drive It
Owner and photographer: Thomas Billam
Year, Make, and Model: 1977 Mini 850cc
Editor’s Note: This is a Your Car Feature in two parts.
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!
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!!
Want to see your vintage car on Petrolicious? Click here for more information.