BMW Partner Restores 54-Year-Old Classic Mini to its Former New Glory

To mark the revival of Mini production in the Netherlands, the VDL Nedcar plant has restored a 54-year-old classic Mini that was one of the first examples assembled in the country. Located in Born, the former Mitsubishi plant will start manufacturing the all-new Mini hatch under contract starting next summer.

The 1959 Austin Seven sporting production number 983 was unearthed last year in an old barn in Groningen, ravaged by the passage of time and as such an ideal candidate for the “reBorn” mission. Restoration work took six months.

A few months after its launch in August 1959 as Morris Mini-Minor and Austin Seven, production of the classic Mini began in continental Europe at the Amersfoort-based firm J.J. Molenaar’s Car Companies. More than 4,000 units were build there between 1959 and 1966 using components delivered from the United Kingdom.

Only 30 cars were built in the first year in Amersfoort, and this Austin Seven is one of them. Mini says it may be the oldest example of the Dutch-built classic Mini currently in roadworthy condition and one of the oldest Minis anywhere in the world.

The car spent almost 25 years hidden in an abode before being re-discovered and examined by BMW Group Netherlands employees. They quickly decided to restore it, helped by the certainty regarding its origins. The classic car’s chassis and production numbers were easily identifiable and the seats were upholstered – in traditional Dutch style…using real horsehair.

Five restoration experts from VDL Nedcar brought the 1959 Austin back to life, stripping it down to its bare bones before gradually piecing it back together again. The small 34 hp four-cylinder engine and the gearbox were given a total overhaul, while some body parts and the door panels had to be rebuilt by hand.

By Dan Mihalascu

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