Very rare, low mileage automatic Mini Traveller “woody”. In one family ownership from new to 2015, apparently still having the original engine and gearbox. It was the subject of a comprehensive refurbishment from 2014 onwards by Super Mini of Weybridge, Surrey. Photographic record shows replacement of all rust, new wings and floor panels, powder coating subframes and a glass out (and wood off!) respray on rollover jig. Underside is still pretty much pristine and bright red!
The Traveller (Morris) and Countryman (Austin) versions of the Mini were launched fairly early on in the history of the Mini. Based on the longer wheelbase floorpan of the utility van and pickup variants, but with some changes, the first production estates were launched in September 1960 and rapidly became a feature of suburban and country high streets throughout the UK. Although the woodwork was – unlike the Morris Minor Traveller – not part of the car’s structure and so cosmetic, concerns about woodworm in some overseas markets led to two versions being available in 1961; one with and one without wood. This choice was extended to the UK the following year, the addition of 26 pieces of bolt-on wood carrying a price premium. Also, in the UK the estates sported the same equipment as the De Luxe saloons, although this should not be read in modern-day terms! One feature of the saloons which never made its way to the estate versions, neither Austin nor Morris, was Hydrolastic suspension, the Traveller/Countryman always being on rubber cones with stronger, van-derived springs to cope with any extra weight in the back. Incidentally, the cones have been replaced where necessary as part of further work in 2020 (described below).
The first incarnation was supplanted in autumn 1967 by the Mk II version of which this is a late example from the final year of production. As such it has the 998cc engine, the battery in the easily accessible location under the (tilting) rear seat squab, the underfloor (or “external”) fuel tank creating more usable storage space in the rear, squared-off chrome grill, internal metal door handles rather than cable pulls, and the ribbed roof to prevent vibration. On the other hand, it retains the older style rear lights – as was always the case – not the new, larger type which the saloons got. The fact that these cars were only made for a short period of two years didn’t prevent there being over 45,000 Mk II Countryman/Travellers produced. But the 4-speed automatic option with a sequential box (“Do-it-yourself, or leave it to us…” as the sales brochure said) is a rarely seen beast.
This one comes in the familiar Mini livery of Tartan Red paint and seats (no longer two-tone) and Cherokee Red carpets. A lot of red in such a small car so the external wood and cream headlining help to break this up. Having been completely repainted, the paintwork is pretty exceptional and the interior also. The chrome is very good (including the wheel trims) and the (original) wood has been revarnished but keeps its lived-in patina. Because it is removable it can be refurbished very easily should an owner desire a “new” look. The rear seat back folds forward to provide a surprising load carrying capacity for such a small car.
Besides the post 2015 extensive refurbishment, this delightful little estate has received further significant attention in 2020 with work on the suspension, fuel system, exhaust and an engine service totalling £1,500 at The Mini Works near Edinburgh. Earlier this year it was fitted with a brand-new set of five Blockley tyres and a front wheel bearing. Existing Mini owners know how much genuine, legal types of these small tyres cost, so the new owner can be reassured on that front. We have sorted out an issue with the timing and now the Traveller probably runs as well as it did when new.
The car has an MoT to the end of July 2021. It is, of course, exempt. With only 69k miles on the clock this is a rare opportunity to acquire a well sorted example of the unusual auto box version. There are reckoned to be fewer than twenty of these left as opposed to manual gearbox cars. It comes with an original owner’s handbook and a decent history file with previous invoices, MoT certificates, restoration pictures and original brochures for the estate.
This will be a very nice car for someone which can be used and shown as desired.