1986 Rover - Austin Mini Chelsea 998cc from UK and Ireland
A classic you can use everyday - cheaply!
The boards used to line the boot often fell out of place because there was nothing holding them where they should be.
Structural rot in usual places; sills, A-panels, etc lead to a large MOT repair bill, although recently replaced sub-frames where fine.
Clouding appearing around the edge of the windscreen makes visibility poor in some places of the screen.
Apart from the aforementioned faults, this car has been perfect for myself. As a student it provided transport with relatively cheap running costs and bearable insurance premiums. Its 1.0 litre engine seemed to squeeze a lot of low-end grunt out for the size it is, making it particularly responsive for town driving/commuting in to school etc. Although once above 50mph the cars 1.0 engine fails to perform very well. Top speed is around 75 but once above 65mph the engine noise becomes unbearable! I was also disappointed to find no rear seatbelts fitted to the car, although mounting plates where fitted to the mk4 body shell as standard in preparaton for forthcoming transport laws. Clearly, Austin-Rover where trying to save money by not installing them, but it was particularly frustrating when friends simply didn't dare get in the back. I had fitted a 'Stage-1 kit' which includes a performance air filter and carb needle, and a straight through exhaust. Despite its very impressive performance gains (much, much more low end torque (+40%) and having more power (+25%), the cars fuel economy with 4 people in the car was dismal. This was however largely due to the car running slightly rich. It also makes a great sound above 2000rpm! It is very easy to work on and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of buying a first car. However you should be aware the high risk you would be taking driving such a small car on todays roads. But if you want a cheap, cheerful car that's very easy to maintain, has low running costs, but has superb handling and agility (enough to put a grin on your face, not common in most of todays driving) then this is the car for you!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th June, 2004
9th Oct 2006, 12:21
I had a Mini Chelsea for my first car. It was completely standard except for a big bore central tail silencer. I managed over 90mph from mine (downhill with following wind-i do not recommend this and when I think about it it was a pretty stupid thing to do). As the speedo only goes up to 90 I'm not sure exactly how fast I was going, but the needle was off the dial. It was a really great fun car through the corners too. Never had any trouble with the mechanics, but bodywork all needed replacing as did the sills and rear subframe.
2nd Jul 2009, 10:50
Does anyone know how many Chelseas are still about? They seem to have got very rare (haven't seen one in a mag/for sale or at any shows). I am restoring one to sale, but don't know how much it's worth. Anyone got any ideas?