Mini Mk1 (1959 – 1967) Review

Mini Mk1 (1959 – 1967) At A Glance


+It's a Mini, and all that encompasses

-Slow, rusty, noisy and uncomfortable

Alec Issigonis’s cheap small car for BMC was innovative with its front-wheel drive and spacesaving transverse engine layout but, more than that, it was incredibly entertaining to drive, even if it took buyers quite a while to cotton on.

The Mini had a personality that few small cars had displayed before, and it soon became a best-seller. The Austin version was initially called the Se7en, but became the Mini in 1961. The 848cc A-series engine was used throughout the life of the MkI; one significant change was the adoption of Hydrolastic suspension in place of the original rubber-cone type in 1964.

Ask Honest John

I'm looking for a vintage car to use as a daily driver, what would you suggest?

"I'm looking for a vintage car to use as a daily driver, what can you recommend?"
It depends very much on your budget and how old a car you are looking at when you say 'vintage'. Something from the 1980s could be considered vintage all the way back to something made at the start of mass production in the 1900s. If you plan to use this car daily, we would suggest that younger is better, as newer cars are generally more reliable and offer better safety and comfort features. Unless you plan to do big mileages and motorway work, a classic Mini would be a great starting point. There are thousands to choose from across its lifespan from 1959 to 2000, and with its small engine it can be relatively economical. There is also a huge support network of experts and specialists as well as excellent parts availability, so it would be easier than some alternatives to find a good example and keep it on the road.
Answered by David Ross

Best car for first build project?

"What is a good car to begin your first ever build project with?"
This depends on your budget and requirements, but an original Mini is always an excellent purchase for first-time classic car projects. There's lots around, it's very easy to work on, parts aren't expensive and it'll fit in even the smallest of garages. It's also very good fun to drive. If you need something a bit bigger then cars like the VW Beetle are a good purchase, or an MGB as a classic sports car - again, these are plentiful and parts are everywhere. If you want something newer or sportier, early Mazda MX-5s or Toyota MR2s are great project cars - just watch for severe corrosion.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

How will an engine upgrade affect my car at the MoT?

"I want to fit my 1991 Mini Mayfair with a 1275cc carburettor engine from a 1980's Austin Metro. It was originally manufactured with a 998cc engine. From late 1991 on, Rover only fitted 1275cc engines (carburettor at first and later injection). How will this change in engine size affect a MOT test ?"
The current advice for historic vehicles exempt MoT status, states that you do not need to get an MoT if no ‘substantial changes’ have been made to the vehicle in the past 30 years. For example replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine to change the way the vehicle works. A ‘substantial change’ is something that means the technical characteristics of the main components have changed. When it comes to the engine, alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine and alternative original equipment engines do not count as a substantial change.
Answered by Keith Moody

I've found an easy way of repairing the hydraulic master cylinder on classic cars such as Minis.

"One of your readers couldn't get his 1962 Mini's master cylinder replaced. You suggested changing the anterior running gear with that from a later Mini series. An easy and safe way to repair an obsolete or impossible to get hydraulic cylinder is to get it bored out and sleeved by a competent engineering firm. Not expensive either. This is known to many in the Vintage/Classic brigade. Some years ago I got my 1937 Delage D6-70 back on the road in Zimbabwe exactly this way. I was dealing with obsolete French Lockheed parts."
While your e-mail is very helpful to others running old cars with obsolete parts, my reader was referring not to the master cylinder but to a wheel cylinder for the front drum brake of a 1962 Mini. The best answer for that is to fit whole hubs and brakes from a later Mini, and also enjoy the luxury of twin leading shoe drum brakes instead of the leading/trailing shoes of 1962 Mini brake. Another reader, BF, suggests DSN Classics for Mini spare parts. They have a website ( and are based at Attleborough in Norfolk.
Answered by Honest John
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