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With
the challenge accepted the hunt was on for a decent little mini that
would be taken to southern Spain as a surprise 40th
Birthday present for my friends wife. Luckily I knew a few folks
that liked to dabble in mini’s. They killed them, fixed them, modded
them and generally lived an obsessive mini lifestyle so where better
to start the hunt?

I
made some calls and knocked on doors ending up drinking lots tea with
mini mad friends. This was not a quick process because once you
start talking to anyone about their passion it is never a quick
conversation, after all this is their life their love their
everything in most cases! It’s never a simple ‘Do you know of any
decent mini’s for sale?’ conversation because the reply would be
along the lines of ‘Define decent and the type of mini you are
looking for. Have you considered the year? Engine size? Do you want
a particular special edition?’ so you can see what the problem was
going to be here.

To
cut a long story short all roads led me back to a fellow I knew in
Northampton called Dr Bob. He ran a company called The Mini Hospital
that specialised in looking after….mini’s! This was the chap who
actually taught me to weld and he was a straight honest chap that
would tell you exactly what he thought and the truth whether you
wanted him to or not. I understand that he retired a few years ago
from the mini repair world which is a great loss to that community
because he was a living Google of mini information and an absolute
whiz on the spanners.

Because
of the nature of his work Bob always seemed to now of a few mini’s
for sale and this time was no exception. Sat in his workshop tucked
away at the back was a little burgundy ancient mini that had been
locked away in a little old ladies garage for donkeys years. It had
just been through a light restoration bodywork wise and serviced by
Bob himself too. It was a lovely looking little thing and a deal was
soon struck with a warning from Bobs lips…

‘It’s
been parked up for years Nick you need to run it around for a bit to
see if anything else needs sorting on it. I have literally driven
from here to the MOT station and back so run it around a bit before
heading off for Spain. Polish the new paintwork again too as it’s
still quite fresh and with a long drive you want to give it a good
start.’

‘Yep
I will do that Bob without fail chap so we can sort any issues before
the long drive’ I replied.

With
that I hopped into the driving seat and drove the little mini the 20
miles home with a big grin on my face and without a care in the
world.

With
the mini sourced I had to make lots of other arrangements to get it
over to Spain. Time off of work had to be sorted along with European
breakdown cover and the ferry bookings of course. The price of
transport was soon creeping up so I looked to see if it would be
cheaper and easier to send it over by transporter but nope that was
twice the price of driving there so I figured ‘ROAD TRIP!!”

Before
I knew it two weeks had passed and the birthday deadline was looming
fast so I pulled the mini out of the garage I had stored it in and
had not really had much of a chance to play with it since I brought
it back. It fired first turn of the key and was soon parked up
outside of my house with spare parts loaded into every available
space so my friend had them Spain side and I had them for the
journey.

I kissed my wife and kids goodbye, threw my holdall full of clothes
onto the passenger seat and with a sense of adventure fired it up and
set off. The journey had begun.

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