There’s something unquestionably charming about the original Mini. From royalty to rockstars, Alec Issigonis' mastermind creation appeals to everyone, including a certain collector by the name of Jay Leno.
Usually focusing on steroid-fed muscle cars or rare oddities, Leno has welcomed a 1965 Morris Mini Minor into his famed garage to mark the vehicle's 60th anniversary.
Imported from Bournemouth, on the southern shores of Great Britain, the Mini arrived on U.S soil under the careful watch of Steve Nelson. Nelson bought the car aged only 17 and maintained the humble machine for 40 years before Leno came knocking.
Presented in a striking blue and white combination, this well preserved automotive icon features a transversely mounted 850cc engine pumping out 34bhp – a bit less than Leno is usually accustomed. However, such a powerplant made the Mini an affordable proposition when new. More so, boasting a kerb weight of only 1210kg, the Mini employs each horsepower with gusto.
Original Minis are worth considerable sums of money on the collector car market, epitomising the swinging essence of 1960s British cultural invasion. Steve McQueen owned one, as did Madonna and – sit down for this one – even Enzo Ferrari.
With Jay stood next to the car, you get a true sense of scale. The British ‘car of the people’ is dwarfed by everything else in Leno's garage. Compared to a mammoth American equivalent, the Mini rides on tiny five-inch rims and is only three meters in length.
Nelson has made some modifications to his Mini over the years, including replacement of the age-old drum brakes in favour of upgraded Cooper S stopping power. A more sophisticated suspension set-up has also been fitted to the car.
Originally a deep bronze color, something that matched the rust these cars remain notorious for acquiring if uncared for, the Mini has proven a labour of love that has endured over the decades. Today, Steve is still elated with his Mini.
Hitting the road, Jay has no trouble fitting into the small car thanks to its clever packaging that affords even tall occupants enough space inside. Driving down some smaller roads, he comments ‘these are the sort of roads it was made for. Bombing down here at 50mph.’ He continues: ‘the sensation of speed is as much fun as the speed itself!’
We can't help but agree.
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