Canada Had Its Very Own Strange Mini Variant

You know what I love? Weird, idiosyncratic versions of famous, iconic cars that only show up in one particular corner of the world. That’s why I’m so smitten with weird South African Beetles and Italian Volkswagen taillights and bizarre Chilean fiberglass Minis. I’m happy to say I’ve learned about yet another one: the Canadian Minis that look like they’re wearing one of those awful orthodontic headgear things I had to wear when I was, like, 14.

While Minis were an unqualified global success and sold all over the world, by the 1970s strict new American safety regulations were coming into play that the tiny Mini stood no chance of meeting without colossal re-engineering. The result was that Minis were glumly pulled from the U.S. market.

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Is this how Canadians dressed in the 1970s?

Canada, though, maybe because of their history as part of the British Commonwealth, wasn’t so quick to give up the clever little cars. They did, however, have a bunch of new safety regulations of their own to meet, so they became the only market that had Minis with the following changes:

Fuel tank mountings changed

The fuel filler neck was modified and fuel tank caps from other markets would no longer fit

Huge side marker lights/reflectors were added

The front turn signal lights increased in size beyond anything ever offered elsewhere

Latches to hold the front seats in place were introduced on the Canadian Minis long before they were used in England

Dash panel arrangements and switches varied and even seat belt warning buzzers were incorporated

Bumpers were raised and an early form of smog control by using an air pump and injector ports in the head was added

The location of the smog pump also necessitated a change in the radiator so that the inlet was towards the back near the filler cap.

... and, of course, the most obvious change, those bumpers.

In case you forgot what a regular Mini-face looks like compared to these Canadian ones, here you go:

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As you can see, the bumper was different, with a rubber impact strip, it was mounted a good bit higher, along with some strange chrome vertical bumper mounts/overrider things on each side of the grille.

The turn indicators were also replaced with larger round units, mounted on the grille. These weren’t really radical changes, but for a car that changed so little over the course of its life, these were pretty major. And only for Canada.

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The rear also got the same sort of rubber-faced, higher-mounted bumper, along with a solitary, annoyingly just-off-center reversing lamp mounted below the bumper.

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I do like seeing that some of the changes, like the inclusion of American-style side-marker lamps, were noted in advertising:

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Also, “genuine plastic mag wheel discs!” Damn, Canada, you know how to live.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)