Two unique Minis uncovered

| 14 Mar 2011

One in Greece and one in Western Australia.

Athens-based John Reymondos was intrigued by his unusual find at the scrappers: "From the back it looked like a Riley Elf or a Wolseley Hornet, but when I walked around it I could not believe my eyes. It was a 'Jolly' version of a booted Mini. The grille was bespoke, with a different surround and larger front flashers than usual."

The car was badged 'Austin 850' and had a chromed numberplate frame.

"It must have been based on an early Mini, because there was the floor-mounted starter hole and dip-switch. The car looks to have been converted in a very professional way."

After much persuasion, the scrapyard boss eventually let Reymondson buy the car. He has since been in touch with Jeroen Booij, author of Maximum Mini, and plans to have it restored by June.

"This is one of few Austin Beach Cars styled by Dick Burzi and built in Longbridge," Booij said. "I believe it is the prototype because, instead of being a Mini saloon like the known Beach Cars, it's based on an Elf or Hornet. I think it's an Elf prototype that was converted into the Beach Car, and is probably the car used by Alec Issigonis to ferry journalists around the test track at the launch of the Mini Cooper."

Hidden in a shed in Western Australia, however, was a rare MiniSprint van. MiniSprints had channelled bodies, lowered rooflines, rectangular headlamps and high-spec engines.

This van was converted to Sprint spec and used by Rob Walker Racing for fast parts deliveries. Walker's son took the van with him to Australia in the '70s, where it changed hands several times. The current owner contacted Walker's son, who positively identified the car. It now sits in the rafters of his workshop, awaiting the completion of other restorations before it gets the attention it deserves.