Subject to some off-line fact checking, here’s a brief history of the car.
Original home, New Jersey, owned by Charles, who later moved to New Hampshire. New London, NH, is a little college town in the Sunapee area of NH, sort of the left center of New Hampshire. Once, vacationing in NH, we’d stopped in on New London after meeting an airline pilot and his wife in a state park. He’d mentioned that they were looking for a retirement home, and New London seemed to be a good candidate for them. Sounded good to us, too, so we took a look. I think he may have been right, although we’ve not been back nor taken any action. The pilot was looking for a six month home – they were going to split their year between NH and Florida. (Pilots, or ex-pilots, I imagine, can fly free.) So back and forth, no big deal.
Anyway, the Mini sat in a garage in New London, where it was spied by Doug B. while out for an evening stroll. Being a car guy and interested in Minis, he approached Charles and asked if he’d be consider selling. He was, he did, and Doug became the Mini’s new (second?) owner. Doug had the car for a few months when he found a 1275 Mini Cooper that was more appealing than Charles’ car. He bought it, too. Our Mini now got put up for sale again.
John, in Rochester, NY, was reading through Hemmings Motor News one day, and saw the Mini advertised. Must have been a deal, because John bought it, brought it back to Rochester, and stuffed it in his garage, a project that over 28 years or so never happened. Last summer, John wanted to turn his garage into a welding shop, and the Mini was taking up a lot of valuable space, so … John put an ad on the Mini City web site and I saw the Mini advertised, and thought “That car seems to be in fairly good shape, comes with a lot of extras, and could make a nice little project.” But I already had a Mini in my garage.
That Mini was Mini Project 1. I thought it would be Mini Project Only, until my mind skipped a few critical synapses. Back in 1998, Mini Project 1 came to me as a non-rolling car with a restored engine but little else. Over the next four years, I turned it into my idea of what a Mini should be, and spent the next 7 or 8 years driving it to and from autocrosses held by the local MG Car Club. It was quick, loud, and fun. Although there were some years when we didn’t log very many miles at all, the ones we did cover were all trouble-free and happy. For me, anyway.
There was one autocross when some onlookers and I convinced my wife that it would be fun to ride shotgun on a run. They last only a couple of minutes, the lady was enthusiastic about her experience, and so my wife agreed. She strapped on a helmet, and we took off. I couldn’t hear anything over the screaming of the little 998 and the screeching tires, but she claimed she was frantically yelling for me to stop. I don’t know – maybe she was. When we finished, me all smiling and happy with my performance, I turned to her as she unstrapped, opened the door, and fell out onto the parking lot in a heaving heap. That ended her autocross days for good, even as a spectator, and convinced her that there was some serious lack in those people, especially me.
Anyway, I saw John’s car, and convinced myself that I enjoyed the restoration more than the driving, and bought his car. Now I had two. And a one car garage. My car’s picture went up on the Mini City web site, and the car itself went into my daughter’s husband’s mother’s garage. I don’t think it was happy with me. During our advertising photo shoot, as I was sitting deciding whether we needed more pictures, I felt a “plunk” on my butt. Then another one. The rubber diaphragm in the seat had let go. All those years, and all the hard autocross miles hadn’t done anything except wear off tire rubber, but when the car knew that I was going to sell it, pop. I’d broken one of my cardinal rules: never talk about or even think hard about selling a car when you’re within earshot of it.
The summer came and went with no offers on Mini 1, and no activity on Mini 2. I’d looked around it a little closer upon getting it home and found that there was more rust than I’d expected. In John’s garage, I did what now seems to have been a very cursory look, and concluded that, while not rust-free, the car was in pretty good shape. Wrong, wrong, wrong. How the mind works to convince ourselves that what we want to be true is indeed true is amazing. (It’s called delusion.) Oh, well. If I truly enjoyed restoration more than driving, this was going to be my chance to be happy for a long time.
Fall came and went with no offers on Mini 1, and little to no activity on Mini 2. I was starting to get a little nervous. I had to move the car out of our daughter’s husband’s mother’s garage and into my golfing partner’s garage, but that was a short term gig since he was going to sell his house, and a Mini in the garage, while really appealing to someone like me, would probably not convince potential buyer to buy this house. Just before winter struck, I had my first inquiry on the car that fell through, and then another one that didn’t, and on what turned out to be the last good day of the year, we delivered Mini 1 to its new owner in Buffalo. A quick goodbye, few quiet tears, a pocketful of cash, and we returned to Rochester to start in earnest on Mini Project 2. We needed a goal.