Classics for sale: Is this the worldâ€™s greatest undiscovered Mini?
Built by British Leyland for promotional purposes and enjoyed by Tony Pond and Mike Smith among other rally favourites, this is a real collectorâ€™s item. It wonâ€™t hang around for longâ€¦
All Minis are equal, but some are more equal than others. No matter the overall condition or specification, any example of Alec Issigonisâ€™ brainchild can provoke a broad smile from ear to ear. However, inject some adrenaline and youâ€™ve got an entirely different breed of car.
We arenâ€™t talking about Max Power-esque monstrosities, either, nor the sort of death trap produced in a garden shed. Back when the British car industry offered a proud global halo effect, British Leyland engineers pumped the humble Mini with steroids to ensure victory on the worldâ€™s rally stages.
The result was this very special 1275 GT. Scroll down for more about it.
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It was built in 1968 to promote the forthcoming Duckhams Race Series. Donâ€™t think it was tyre-rippingly aggressive, however. Only slight tweaking was given to the drivetrain, but the livery appeared fast as hell. It was once the perfect combination of controllable hilarity and rally pedigree for those unnerved by riotous power.
Thus, purely as a factory road race car, the 1275 GT wasnâ€™t registered for the road until 1972, after BL had run a celebrity guest series, with drivers ineligible for any championship points. Guests included Mike Smith and Tony Pond, who personally competed in three races coming third at Llandow on April 11, 1968.
This Miniâ€™s construction was never fine-tuned for victory, but rather for promotional purposes. At the end of the season, piloted by well-known faces in the racing world, the team â€˜unofficiallyâ€™ finished fifth overall.
Originally painted in Blaze Orange, the Mini first hit the public road after being sold to a member of the general public. Mike Smith hunted the car down and bought the Mini for further racing duties in 1983. After several rev-abusing events, the car was briefly retired for a stripdown rebuild.
Such actions werenâ€™t undertaken to protect heritage, but rather to beef the 1275 GT up a notch and meet International Rally Specification Group A regulations. Contesting the European Championship Tarmac events in Southern France, the Mini fought off rivals five times the size; pulling on the heartstrings of all that it passed.
The Miniâ€™s eligibility expired at the end of 1985, was reworked to meet 1986 rules and put forward for the 1200km Rally Dâ€™Antibes, a qualifier for the European Championship. Entering numerous events since then, the Mini now makes for the perfect classic racer.
If that's not quite enough for you, this very car was driven by Chris Goffey on classic Top Gear and appeared in:
- Car Magazine January 1986
- Numerous copies of Motoring News 1985/86
- Rallysport 1985/86
- Mighty Minis by Chris Harvey 1986
- Cars & Car Conversions January 1987
While the heritage-driven originality brigade may foam at the mouth upon discovering that its original guise has been â€˜ruinedâ€™, we believe this example of BLâ€™s finest ticks all the boxes. Itâ€™s fast, itâ€™s cool and dripping with racing legacy.
For Â£30k you could go out and buy a new Nissan Leaf and hug some trees, or you could take on this Mini and receive attention from like-minded enthusiasts, while preserving a chunk of relatively unknown British automotive history. We know which one weâ€™d go forâ€¦
Get a closer look with the AutoClassics classified advert.