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British company bodyshells make Mini restoration easier

Brit company BMH makes MK1 bodyshells from original British Leyland specs

Published: May 23, 2018, 2:30 AM
Updated: May 26, 2018, 3:14 AM

Austin Mini

If you’re a Mini fan, you probably have an affinity for the original front-wheel drive car that has enjoyed success not only on the sales charts, but also on the track and on rally courses.

Taking delivery of a 1959 Morris Mini-Minor

Downright diminutive compared to the modern BMW-built Mini, it has an unmistakable profile and will give today’s small cars a run for their money in downtown runaround ability and park-ability. However, ones in good shape are becoming harder to come-by, which is where British Motor Heritage (BMH) comes in.

Reacting to a pent-up demand for MK1 Mini bodyshells, the company started making them a couple years back from original British Leyland specs, showing off a prototype at the 2016 NEC Classic Motor Show in Birmingham, England. It’s been steadily building up production since.

BMH MK1 Mini bodyshell

“A few years back, though values of good Mini Coopers were climbing steadily, the limited worth of their 850 cousins (the originals were named Austin 850 and Morris 850 in some markets) made comprehensive restorations hard to justify,” said BMH’s Managing Director John Yea. “The picture is now very different, and enthusiasts are busy rejuvenating all versions of Issigonis’ immortal baby at an ever-increasing rate. As a result, we are constantly having to raise our production targets.”

The shells cost £9,950 (just over $17,000 Canadian), and BMH says they are obviously a cost-effective solution for people restoring their classic Minis, many of which are approaching 60.

1959 Morris Mini-Minor (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/DeFacto)

One of the company’s pet projects is the restoration of the 1967 Mini Cooper S whose body was “butchered” to create the 2016 prototype shell. The Cooper and Cooper S were the performance versions of the Mini, coming along in 1961 (the original Mini came to market as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor in 1959, with the Austin model becoming the Austin Mini in 1962, and Mini becoming its own marque in 1969).

Speaking of motorsports successes, BMH says it could develop dedicated motorsports shells in the future. The company has raced a BMH-shelled MGB in historic (vintage) racing for the past 12 years, and will be joined by an FIA specification MK1 Mini-Cooper S for the 2018 season.

BMH Mini Cooper S race car bodyshell

Inquiries about replacement shells can be made by email to sales@bmh-ltd.com or by phone to 44 (0)1993 707200.