Getting A 1980 Mini 1100 Road Ready in a Day Turned into 20 Years
Owner: Bart Mulder
Location: Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
Year, Make, and Model: 1980 Mini 1100 Special
Photographer: Bart Mulder
At around 6’4″ (1.96 m) tall, Bart Mulder is a tall man, but he really loves small cars. Especially when they have some oomph. Twenty years ago as a struggling student, he sought out a Mini on a meager budget of around $100. His hope was to find cheap transportation, something he could maybe a year out of, and simple enough he could fix the most urgent problems on his own. Back in the early ’90s, old-school Minis were plentiful in Holland. A quick scouring of the local paper turned up numerous options, but the yellow charmer you see hear is what Bart settled on. Twenty-one years later, he still has what he calls “this little rascal.”
When asked why he still has this car after only planning on keeping it for one year, he confesses the car was far more rotten than he’d expected—he wasn’t able to put it on the road in a day as he’d originally planned. He took on the personal challenge to rebuild the car in his own style and to try to do everything himself. Besdies, after picking up the Mini, he fell into a sweet arrangement where he and a friend shared an Alfa Romeo Alfetta 2.0, removing the need to rush its rebuild.
At the time, the British pound was low compared to a Dutch guilder, so Bart was able to pick up parts cheaply as he went along. With the goal of creating a clean driver rather than a 100% restoration, a number of performance parts were purchased as well. A lack of space combined with other interests meant Bart’s Mini project was stopped and restarted many times over the years, but in 2009 the final steps were made and the car was at last road-ready in 2011.
After putting so much time into his Mini rebuild, he couldn’t bear to part with it. “Nowadays this Mini is not just a car, but feels like a way of life. [It’s] not for sale, like you also won’t sell your arm or leg,” Bart told us.
Since then, on Sunday afternoons, Bart oftens takes a drive in the Polder area close to his house. Because of a new road tax regulations that takes effect next year in Holland, owners will not be allowed to drive cars over 25 years old during December, January, and February unless they pay the high road tax. Bart’s not too bothered by this since he likes to avoid the salt on the roads during the winter months anyway.
Because the Mini is quite noisy, Bart’s wife doesn’t exactly love going for drives in it—fortunately his alternatives include an MGB roadster with a 3.9 V8 conversion, an Alfa Romeo 159 SW and a Smart ForTwo. The Mini gets regular use in historic navigation rallies, hill climb racing, and track days, however. His favorite roads are the small “Mickey Mouse” roads (as he referred to them) in hills, but since Holland is a flat country, Bart has to go abroad to find these roads. Some of his favorite places to drive are the Belgian Ardennes, German Eifel, and Mosel area. On these serpentine roads Bart tells us that his small car competes very well with much bigger cars.
Bart, who has a background in automotive education, is currently developing a 6-speed sequential gearbox for this car—the original housing will be used to accomodate six pairs of gears from a Honda Blackbird motorbike. He believes extreme horsepower isn’t necessary for great performance if the traction and gearbox are right.
Click here to see a video of Bart’s Mini on the road.
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