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1989 Austin Mini 1.0 Thirty

OK. Gotta admit a personal interest here. I’m very partial to ‘original’ Minis, writes Ray Castle, I and own one not too different from this little beauty.  It comes to Caught in the Classifieds courtesy of our friends at Gifford Sports and Classics, Chesterfield.

As the name suggests, the Mini Thirty was a limited edition sold in 1989 to mark 30 years of production. As you’ll see from the photos it sports part-leather seats and alloy wheels, which back then was quite posh for a small car.

And approaching such a Mini today, the first thing that strikes you powerfully is just quite how, erm, ‘mini’ it is. Park it in a regular supermarket bay and somehow there’s too much surplus room. Next to a BMW Mini it seems tiny.

But a quick turn at the wheel will connect you with all that made this baby such a legend. Incredibly direct steering, a bouncy ride, gear whine and fair zip from its 1.0-litre motor: it’s great fun and very, very charming. Own one and other Mini drivers wave. On petrol forecourts, strangers come over to chat.

£6495 may look steep for a 1980s car. Peer carefully at the photo of the original bill of sale the vendor has thoughtfully included and you’ll spot that it is, indeed over £500 dearer than when new.

Truth is, though, that Austin built cars without thought of rust protection and almost all self-destructed after a few years. This one has led a very pampered life and, judging from the pics, its condition bears out its 18k recorded mileage.

Evens so, we’d expect that it’s had some restoration – and perhaps a new panel or two – at some point. If it were ours, we’d rush it to a corrosion specialist for a thorough treatment as our first job.

Although the last rolled off the line 13 years ago, every spare part remains available through a network of specialists – you can even buy a new replacement body shell – and there’s a thriving owner’s club scene.

As a first classic, it’s ideal – cheap to tax and insure, simple and affordable to fix. And prices are heading steadily upwards, so you should get back close to what you gave. Hard to resist.

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