One of the most influential automobiles of all time, the Mini debuted in 1959 to universal acclaim, designer Alec Issigonis’ choice of a transverse engine layout resulting in a trend-setting masterpiece of automotive packaging. BMC chose to market the car as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor before Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. By the end of 1980, the original 850cc version had gone leaving the Mini 1000 – available in City and HLE variants – as the sole model available. Introduced at the same time, a heavily revised version of the venerable A-Series engine – the A-plus – together with an improved gearbox (both from the Metro) made the Mini quieter and more refined than ever before.
Conceived as basic transport for the masses, the humble Mini was nevertheless soon attracting the attention of tuners, customisers and coachbuilders. A truly classless car, as likely to be driven by pop stars, celebrities and members of the nobility as the man in the street, it spawned a host of individualised variations on the basic theme, arguably the most famous of which was the luxury Mini produced by coachbuilder Harold Radford. Eventually, even its manufacturer took notice of the Mini’s potential, launching a plethora of limited and special editions from the late 1970s onwards. There had never been an officially sanctioned soft-top Mini though, until the early 1990s when, inspired by the success of the Mini cabriolet produced by German Rover dealer LAMM Autohaus, the Rover Mini Cabriolet arrived in October 1992 at the Birmingham International Motor Show.
Yet another take on the ‘open Mini’ theme, this 1980 example has been in a large collection in the south of France for many years. The car is described as in generally good condition, and is offered with current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5.