No club scene offers more passion than that of the classic Mini. Need proof? Here's a few snaps from 2018's IMM
A rich vein of enthusiasm and personalisation, second only to classic cars themselves has to be the community in which they are loved and celebrated. Epitomising this is the International Mini Meeting.
Originating in Germany back in 1978, the International Mini Meeting is now a huge three-day event. Popularity saw the meet spread across borders; defying language barriers and creating a foundation of appreciation like no other. Today, it’s a truly continental event that docks all over Europe – returning to England once every five years.
For 2018, Praia de Mira on the west coast of Portugal played host. In reality, it's not much more than a campsite with a variety of Alec Issigonis’ finest on show. But that doesn’t stop people from over 24 countries turning out in force.
Travelling down through Portugal in the 2018 model year Mini Cooper S, complete with the Union Flag-inspired tail lights, felt like an apt set of wheels. It may be an altogether more bulky package than the countless original Minis, at this point taking to the sunbaked tarmac in their swathes, but its zesty engine, popping exhaust and tight handling keeps the mantra alive. That said, it settles down and eats up the Portuguese motorway miles which dominate the journey.
Prior to pulling through the site gates, Paddy Hopkirk 1964 Monte Carlo rally replicas, Italian Job trios and homages to Mr Bean amid other popular culture Mini references were anticipated. And yet there was none. Instead, the IMM is more of a celebration about the individuality and customisation available on the Mini scene.
Examples on show spanned the entire Mini family tree: from pristine 1959 originals and Marcos coupés through to the second generation of John Cooper Works GPs. Although, it must be noted that the cars manufactured during BMW’s tenure were notably fewer – they did still garnish plenty of attention, however, and none more so than the fleet of 2018 cars lined up door-handle-to-door-handle.
Where some of the older, altogether more rust-prone Minis had clearly been restored to original factory specification or kept in pristine condition all along, others were altogether more wild, converted beasts. Some had clearly driven thousands of miles on the public roads to attend the IMM. They were left fly-spattered and grubby, but all the more appealing and honest as a result.
For more ambitious owners, the bodywork had been moved well on from its original moulds. Where engines had been swapped in and carburettors or superchargers added to the original A-Series engine, then bonnet bulges had been added and wheelarches flared to house larger rubber.
Carbon fibre found its way in, rooflines were chopped and bespoke Mini trailers-come-bars were being towed. Whether you couldn’t look beyond an immaculate Riley Elf, or an unrestrained Moke was more your choice, all facets were covered – even if you wanted your Mini complete with twin steering wheels or wearing an MG Metro badge…
And as the Mini celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019, the IMM returns to back home to English soil with Bristol playing host from August 8 to 12.
Some cars really did pack a powerful punch, others looked about ready to throw one
Cars catered for all levels of inner city parking ability
The sporting, luxury and SUV editions of the model range
Until next year, IMM...