There's good reason this Mini more than doubled it's pre-sale estimate, and it's not because Neil Armstrong once drove it. No, Lot 307 at Bonhams' Hendon, U.K., sale was bid up to $65,100 because it's an exceptionally rare early Mini, just the eighth of the iconic cars ever manufactured, according to the auction company.

The seller was clearly able to capitalize on the current collector car trend of finding unrestored survivor cars – those gems that have somehow escaped not only the ravages of time and oxidation, but five decades of enthusiastic collectors armed with an attitude that tearing it down to the base metal and building it back up, "better than new," is the only way to enjoy vintage iron. The auction company advertised this 1959 Austin Seven (the Mini name wasn't applied to the Austin version until 1961) as the oldest unrestored Mini, saying that only three earlier cars are known to exist, one of which is in the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust museum.

Unrestored cars have achieved their recent popularity in part because they serve as records of how the cars originally came from the factory. Production standards in the '50s and '60s were much more lax than they are now, and written records can be hard to come by, hence the need for cars like this to direct historians and restorers alike.

The Mini, of course, is one of the most popular cars of all time, remaining in production with few changes from 1959 through 2000. Over 5.3 million of the cars were produced over that period, before BMW shut down production to launch its modern version of the car.

Scroll down to read Bonhams full catalog description.
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Lot 307
1959 Austin Mini Se7en De Luxe Saloon
Registration no. XLL 27
Chassis no. AA2S7/108
Engine no. 8AUH-908
Sold for £40,250 inc. premium


Footnotes

This Austin Se7en De Luxe is believed to be the oldest surviving un-restored Mini. Accompanying correspondence from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust states that it is the 8th of its type to come of the production line at Longbridge in May 1959, some three months before the launch of this legendary model on 26th August. The BMIHT correspondence confirms that the car was despatched on 31st July 1959 to Car Mart Limited in Colchester, whose service plate is riveted inside the engine compartment.

It is believed that only three Minis earlier than 'XLL 27' still exist; one is '621 AOK', which forms part of the BMIHT's collection at Gaydon while the other two (one of which has been converted into a cabriolet) are in Japan. From 1986 until last year the car was owned by David Gallimore of Chichester, the previous owner listed on the copy Swansea V5 on file being Mrs Gladys Hobro of Aldwick, Bognor Regis. The car is complete and has all the features that distinguish these very early Minis, including the famous glass washer bottle. Some parts have been removed for security and ease of transport but all will be provided at the sale together with a Swansea V5 registration document.

The driver's door has been replaced but other than that only a few small items appear to have been renewed. 'XLL 27' retains its factory Farina Grey paintwork, all its original panels, engine, transmission and the original registration number. The interior is likewise original, intact and complete except for the carpets. Even the original Bluemels numberplates survive and there is evidence to support the belief that the recorded mileage of 30,041 miles is correct. A paper brake service label remains fixed to the near-side door jamb, recording work carried out at 17,942 miles.

There is evidence of corrosion in the front floors, 'A' panels, sills, doors, rear seat well, boot floor and rear valance but a surprisingly high percentage of the shell is intact. The rear sub-frame appears original, as do all the steel hydraulic pipes. The engine has not been run for many years.

The August 2011 issue of Classic & Sports Car magazine devoted six pages to this amazing survivor, which represents a unique opportunity to own an astonishingly correct example of one of the 20th Century's greatest cars in its earliest, purest form. There can be few more important examples of British automotive engineering.


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  • 19 Comments
      Desmond
      • 2 Years Ago
      I live in Hong Kong. It is a very small place with 7 million people who are living together. We can see many updated cars in HK easily such as GTR Track edition, LP-700-4, F-458 and many expensive cars but seldom to see classic mini. In Hong Kong, it is quite hard to buy a new car if you are just a normal citizen because the selling price includes one third of the car tax. Mini, I love it since I was born. I really want to have one. And maybe this is the reason that the buyer was willing to spend more than 5 thousand pounds to buy that particular classic mini. If I won the mark six, I would use 1 million HK dollars to buy 2. This is simply because I love mini and mini can heal people’s heart. I have many minis now (models and pictures)…
      ben.konig
      • 2 Years Ago
      "before BMW shut down production to launch its modern version of the car." This was a sad day in automotive history.
      viperbono
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am sorry I love this car and it might all be due to Mr Bean, I know, I know. I wish the current Coopers weren't BMW and were still truly British. Love the original!! The only small car I find acceptable and I would fold my 6'2" butt into.
      ben.konig
      • 2 Years Ago
      "before BMW shut down production to launch its modern version of the car." This was a sad day in automotive history.
      jbm0866
      • 2 Years Ago
      Kinda cool, but I wouldn't say that this example "escaped the ravages of time and oxidation". Whoever buys this thing will find themselves with essentially a template for a complete rebuild..
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Orin O'Neill
      • 2 Years Ago
      Because there are still idiots with too much money?
      protovici
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why did autoblog post another article on the same topic? Yes Jimmy, you are correct, it is because they have nothing else to post because they cannot find anything better. Maybe its time to find new journalist?
        fragmit50
        • 2 Years Ago
        @protovici
        http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20050317062540/uncyclopedia/images/8/83/Baby_crying_closeup.jpg
      chromal
      • 2 Years Ago
      Selling at that price because it's the 8th mini ever built makes a kind of sense, but, to me, the only appeal of a unrestored car is that it should then be cheap and ready to be restored the way I want to restore it.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      In a few years, Acura RL will be selling like this - for much more than the retail price.
        Hatzenbach
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        if they turn the RL into a something breathtaking new with many technical innovations, add racing heritage, win prestigious rallys 3 times in a row and continue to build that model for 40 years....then yes, maybe, but that's not going to happen. nobody will give a damn about the RL or even remember it in 40 years, because it's absolutly an exchangeable, unemotional and boring everyday design ( at least compared to MK1 Minis). i desperately hope that BMW stops to rape the Mini brand and bring it back to its roots.
        ryan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Why do u say that?
      ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      From what iv heard production standard havent raised much sine 60s either.
      Bryan Lund
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's exactly what this guy wants, to rebuild an old classic. More work than I have time for.
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