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Contributor: Alan Rigby

The walk downstairs at the Rigby household steadily reveals the effect Alec Issigonis has had on our family.  The toy cars and posters adorning the upper level could be mistaken for poor attempts at quirky decoration, but then the steps reveal the oil-slicked iceberg hiding beneath that innocuous tip.  As you cross the threshold into the basement proper, you see the first parts, interior trim taken from less fortunate minis than those that fill the garage.  There’s the Tweety-Bird monogrammed seats that sit slightly crookedly on the concrete floor, testament to the amazing survival of a couple involved in a high speed head-on crash in a fiberglass Domino Mini-based kit. Laid against the wall behind them are the outer skins of a pair of van rear doors, the last remaining metal of another mini sacrificed to the all-devouring god Oxidus.  Engines sit idly awaiting rebuilds, each one a planned engineering masterpiece, just paused while free time and money are slowly accumulated.  Mechanical mementos of misfortune abound, but all are good fortune here, with the promise of renewed life in a future project.  A short distance away resides the garage, home to three slightly healthier minis.

Kabluey, the 1966 Traveller from New Zealand, that has lived up to his title (and unfortunately his name as well), taking us   on trips from mountain to river valley, from Kentucky’s blue grass to Florida’s sandy highways.  He always starts on these journeys, and sometimes even finishes them without the aid of a tow truck.  K even took us from single to married, backing down the aisle to deliver us to a united life.

TB, the 1984 Mini 1000, with his boy-racer faux carbon trim and coffee-can exhaust tip shows the less mature side of the mini game.  Officially her car, he remains oddly free of the power windows, air-conditioning and automatic gearbox she thought she couldn’t live without in the days before minis.

The newest resident of any place usually winds up giving some things up to fit in, and this is definitely true of Lil’ Neck, the New Zealand ute conversion of a 1974 sedan.  Hopefully his giving nature will be fixed soon, before all his working parts wind up shared between K and TB.

Beyond the boundaries of civilized garage life, in the unredeemed wasteland known colloquially as “the backyard,” rest two more potential supercars; Shelley, the 60’s bodyshell not quite solid enough to be made in to a Grassroots Motorsports 2009 challenge car, and her newest partner, Sheldon, another early shell with less metal remaining than he had when he starting along Longbridge’s assembly line.

Mini Cooper Forum

Here in our house is a place where minis are far more than simply conveyances, as in their cheeky external seams lie the past, present, and many of the future hopes and plans of our family.  Don’t call them funny little cars, those are our kids you’re talking about!

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