1976 Rover - Austin Mini 850 850cc petrol from UK and Ireland
There is nothing quite like it
Fuel line split, pouring an entire tank of four star all over the road within half an hour outside a friend's house.
Oil leak from gear linkage entry into gearbox.
Clutch master cylinder needed rebuilding.
Terminal rust in floorpan and rear subframe.
My first car, and I loved it. Good for no more than 80 mph if you switched your mechanical sympathy off and had a couple of miles run-up, and suitably pedestrian acceleration. But every Mini (every "proper" one that is, not the BMW rip-off) makes 30 mph feel like 80, so it wasn't all that bad.
It was a Mini and so handled like a go-kart. I still think it has the most precise, direct steering I've ever experienced, and was a great car to introduce a keen, but clueless 17 year old to the finer points of handling. Left the road several times in the 9 months I had it, but survived every time. I honestly feel my driving was given a huge boost through owning this car.
The engine never missed a beat and returned 55 mpg, even when driven flat out everywhere, which with only 29 horsepower, it often was. It also never failed to start, although the choke was embarassing, requiring that the engine idle at about 4,000 RPM on cold mornings in order to keep it running.
I loved the interior more than anything else. Big central speedo with integral fuel gauge and idiot lights, some rudimentary heater controls and light switches, and absolutely nothing else. This is where I think the new Mini is a particular failure - the old one was basic and raw and sold by the bucketload. A Mini with toys is just wrong.
The MOT man condemned mine in the end and I flogged it through an auction for the princely sum of £50. I forgot all about it until I saw it driving around Oxford about five years ago looking gorgeous. I take my hat off to whoever did the restoration on it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th August, 2003