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Lot 353: Morris Mini Minor Saloon Project

The Oxford Sale, Bonhams (9 December 2013)

The new Mini was as different from the British small car norm in 1959 as a space shuttle from a firework. It bristled with innovative ideas, it looked radically different from any other car and was the most compact "real" car Britain ever produced.' Chris Rees, 'Complete Classic Mini'. One of the most influential automobiles of all time, the Alec Issigonis-designed Mini debuted in 1959 to universal acclaim. True, there had been numerous front-wheel-drive designs before the Mini's arrival, but the transverse engine layout allowed Issigonis to create a trend-setting masterpiece of automotive packaging. The first Mini prototypes were running by November 1957 and in April 1959 the first pre-production examples were hand-assembled at Austin's Longbridge factory. In May 1959, the first Morris-badged version was built at Cowley and that car, registration '621 AOK', now forms part of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust's collection at Gaydon. Less than two-and-a-half years after its initial conception the Mini was officially launched at the 1959 Motor Show, having been shown to the motoring press eight days previously. BMC chose to market the car as the 'Austin Se7en' and 'Morris Mini Minor' before 'Mini' became a marque in its own right in 1969. The early Mk1 had the 848cc A-Series engine, rubber cone suspension and floor-mounted starter button, the latter two features being replaced by Hydrolastic suspension and key starting respectively in 1964. De Luxe versions preferred by the majority of customers came with bumper over-riders and additional exterior brightwork. Manufactured in October 1959, this very early Morris Mini Minor was supplied via BMC distributor Wadham's Ltd of Waterlooville, Hampshire to Lillywhite's of Emworth, Hampshire. It was bought new by a Mr Easton for his wife, and later passed to a Mr Bruce Darby of Woodmancote, West Sussex from whom it was purchased by the current vendor in 1977. Fitted with a replacement engine at some time during the 1960s, the car was used up to 1984 and since then has been in garage storage. Accompanying documentation consists of a Swansea V5, BMIHT dating letter and emailed correspondence from the 1959 Mini Register confirming its specification. Sold strictly as viewed, 'XAA 54' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an example of one of the 20th Century's greatest cars in its earliest and purest form, ripe for sympathetic restoration.

Lot Details
Auction The Oxford Sale
Bonhams, Oxford, Woodstock, UK
TypeCar
Lot Number353
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£5500
Hammer Price (inc premium)£6325
Year1959
Condition rating4
Registration numberXAA 54
Mileage-
Chassis numberM/A2S4/5456
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2