Three Generations Bombing About in a Mini
Owner and Photographer: Steve Hayward
Year, Make, and Model: 1969 Austin Mini
Location: Ontario, Canada
I’ve had a love of cars since I was a little boy, which seems to be common to many enthusiasts. Initially my dad didn’t feed this with full-size cars, but by building an ever-expanding collection of vintage Dinky die-cast toys which he remembered from his youth. I was careful not to bash them up in typical little-boy fashion, and was therefore allowed to play with them all the time.
After many years drawing, ogling, and voraciously reading about cars, my dad one day suggested that we buy and restore our neighbor’s 1969 MGB. That is a decade-long story for another day, but after it was completed Dad mentioned that an old Mini should be next on the list. He’d never previously owned an MGB, but he’d owned Minis both in the UK and Canada in his youth. Fast forward to 2012, when he mentioned the same idea while wintering in Florida (I still live in Ontario). Eager for such a distraction, I started sending him listings of cars for sale, including a very bright 1969 Austin Mini located in British Columbia. It seemed like a good match save for the color–it was already in Canada, mechanically restored, and a reasonable price with a seller looking to move on.
Although we contacted the seller in October, we weren’t initially keen on either travelling across the country just for a car, or buying it sight unseen. However, over a Christmas vacation together (and perhaps enough BEvERages) we decided to go for it (and also convinced my mother it was a good idea). Thanks to the helpful seller, the Mini was packaged up and shipped back to Ontario that January.
Over the last year, we’ve since fitted a completely new interior, including custom upholstery for the original seats by a company in Toronto, and sorted a few mechanical issues here and there that weren’t initially apparent when the car arrived. After carefully inspecting the paint, we decided that a complete respray was the only way to solve the numerous small imperfections present. We found the paint used was Crush Orange from a Jeep Wrangler, and although we didn’t particularly like it at first, it has really grown on us so we kept it. It has a subtle modern color shift in it, but still looks very suitable for the era.
The car was not originally a Cooper, but during its previous restoration it had a 1275cc engine from an Austin America fitted, which certainly makes for an entertaining drive. Along with new 10” wheels (better than 12s to fit the vintage feeling) and new brakes, the car is an absolute blast. However, the best part about driving a Mini is that for many corners, you simply don’t bother to brake!
Working on these old cars with my dad has certainly forged a closer relationship as we’ve grown older. The time in the garage and on the road is something that can’t be replaced by anything else, and I’m glad we’ve got this passion in common. The best part is, it’s already being passed down to my two-year old son, who absolutely loves hanging around “Pop’s” cars. Sometimes he seems more excited seeing the cars than my parents! Best of all, with the Mini, we can strap his carseat in the back and let him see what it’s really all about. There’s nothing like three generations of petrol-heads bombing about together in a vintage Mini!
Want to see your vintage car on Petrolicious? Click here for more information.