After yesterday's Baur-roofed BMW drew a 75% Nice Price vote, we thought it might be a good idea to keep the convertible vibe alive today with a Mini that also doesn't shun the sun, but may be a bit too twee for its own good.
When Alec Issigonis first designed the Mini, he felt that he had created the purest form of family transportation. Ads showed a family of four and enough luggage to choke a hippo that supposedly all fit inside the tiny car, all at the same time. Utilizing several clever packaging measures, such as side-mounted radiator and sump-sharing gearbox, the Mini managed to be microcar small without actually seeming so. Not only that, but it was powered by one of the best engines to ever come out of BMC - the A-series four cylinder, and its (at first rubber cone, then later Hydrolastic displacer) suspension makes the car flingable and easy to manage regardless of road condition. Add to that the security of front wheel drive and the Mini was positioned as the most advanced small car in the world.
One thing the Mini originally lacked at its launch was a variety of body styles. Eventually Clubman wagons, booted Riley Elfs and Italianate Innocentis plied the road, and then, somebody thought it would be a good idea to hack the roof off.
Today's car is presented as a 1970, but it isn't from that year. The choice of that year may be due to eBay's VIN number requirements, or perhaps a end-run around DOT and EPA requirements. Regardless, the car is equipped with the dual-point fuel injected Plus version of the long-serving 1275-cc A-series, which wasn't made available until 1991. The interior, filled with luxurious walnut burl and red-piped leather also belies the year, as that dash was introduced with the Mini Cooper 1.3i. Finally, this is one of 75 Lamm Autohaus Mini conversions done by a German Mini dealer prior to the official Rover Mini Cabriolet. The difference between the two cars is evident in the rear side windows- the Rover has wind-down glass, the Lamm cars have plastic windows sewn into what is reminiscent of a very poorly fitting Wrangler top. And, in fact with that top up, the car is woefully fugly, looking like a Mini that is wearing a poor-fitting toupee.
But that's not why you buy a convertible, you buy it for top-down driving enjoyment. And the Mini looks much better with the top stowed under the bustle-capping tonneau, although in a car this small, there's not much room for the folded hood, and it does lend the appearance of a shopping trolly when down. The Rover version sits even higher.
The Lamm conversion adds about 20-lbs to the Mini's weight, bringing it up to 1530-lbs. The 63-bhp engine will move that to sixty in about 12 ticks, and further, all the way up to its hood-up top speed of 92 mph.
The BRG over walnut and leather is a very appropriate color match for this littlest Brit, and the 32,000 miles showing on the clock fall somewhere in between it's a dried-up garage queen and somebody musta' unscrewed the speedo cable. And while that top is pretty hideous, it is one of only 75, and there's even fewer here in the U.S. than that. And it still has all that Mini goodness that all of Issigonis' offspring possess. Which brings us to the price. The seller of this micro-brute is asking $18,500 to drive it away. For that kind of scratch you could buy a whole bunch of less-rare drop-tops, including miatas, Mustangs, and even several of yesterday's Baur 318is. But just because there are options doesn't mean this isn't a valid choice. Mini ragtops are rare, the base car is fun, and what the hell, it's a good way to determine if you're gay or not- not that there's anything wrong with that.
So what do you vote for this $18,500 soft-top Mini? Do you swing Nice Price? Or, are you not curious yellow, and call the Crack Pipe?
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