Rover Mini Cooper


Vehicle: Rover Mini Cooper

Engine: 1275 SPI

Colour: Tartan red body, black roof

Owner: Lee Norman, pictured with partner Tracey Brake and Sparky the Mini

From: Auckland

When and why did you buy it? Bought ex-Japan for parts. When it arrived we saw it was too good to wreck

What is the vehicle’s history? Don’t know its history. The car was scruffy but very solid

Have you altered it in any way? Yes, given the car a retro makeover so that it looks more like a classic Mark 1. This included changing the grill, bumpers, rear lights, front brakes to fit 10-inch Minilite wheels and a paint job

What’s it like to drive? Quite comfortable for a Mini. We retained the factory high-backed seats and the car has a single point injection engine, which is quieter than a carb engine and always starts first pop. Handling is typical Mini, which corners like a go-kart

What’s it worth? We’ve put about $10,000 into it over the years. Time? After importing it it sat in my workshop untouched for three years. I decided to get it on the road and spent three to four weeks of spare time doing the styling mods and getting it ready for paint. I must have done a good job as when finished my wife liked it so much she snaffled the keys and used it as her daily car for the next few years

Where’s your favourite stretch of road or road trip? Equal-first between Pork PieMini run for natural scenery and The Italian Job Mini tour through Europe for architecture

Top speed? Have got it over 100mph (160kmh) on a “rolling road”

Best driving experience? Always a big fan of “Mini-only” track days where I can drive like a loon without fear of injury to myself or others. Recently did a couple of laps at Highlands Motorsport Park (in Cromwell) , which was fantastic

Worst driving experience? Auckland traffic

What other vehicles of note have you owned? Used to have a TVR Taimar and a few other cars, but sold them all except the Mini. I shipped just the Mini with me when I emigrated from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, which I still own 20 years later

Best music to drive to? Can’t beat a bit of 80s rock

Describe your driving style: My wife says “Like I stole it”

If you could go for a drive in any vehicle it would be a…? Would love having a squirt in Ken Block’s Mustang or competing in Rallycross

What was the first car you ever bought? A metallic blue 1978 1275 GT Mini


Do you belong to any clubs? Auckland Mini Car Club

Event: Pork Pie Charity Run raising money for KidsCan

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