I've been on this forum for a few years but have never introduced myself. I've had a few Mini's over the years, Pick-ups, Estates and Saloons in various states of repair. I've owned this van for 26 years during which time it's gone from being a daily driver for various family members to use and abuse to being stuck in various garages full of junk and then finally to the condition it's in now. The first picture with the lawnmower (a 1968 Suffolk Colt by the way) was as it was 2 years ago and represents how it's looked for the previous 24 years and still with an MOT!
I only kept this van as I first put it on the road with my late father who also drove it regularly. He was very resourceful and fabricated door check straps from old WW2 parachute straps which are still on it to this day. It also has the two-tone horns from a 1962 Morris Oxford which my Father drove to collect my mother & I from the hospital when I was born. The inner door handles are Maxi reclining seat handles which are offset by 90 degrees making it easier to release the door with an elbow.
I've moved house 4 times over the years and it's been legally driven between each and has been very useful. I drove it on the track at Silverstone at the Mini 35th and the London to Brighton run the same year. The beauty of a van (or pick-up) is that they are very easy to store as the rear can be used for all the crap in the garage and keep it virtually mobile. Also very useful place to hide the kids Christmas presents every year!
It was originally a Southern Electricity Meter Van from February 1980 until 1983, at that point it moved to Tetbury as a window cleaners van for the next 10 years. I paid £5 for it as an abandoned restoration project - basically the guy had stripped it and done anything else. During my 26 years of ownership it has had a very hard life being used and abused either going to University, the local tip every month and lent to various family members who needed it. Early on it was a case of fix it at the weekend to drive on Monday hence it had lots of 'begged and borrowed' parts including 3 x 998 engines, rear subframes (new Rover one from a scrapyard in 1999), second hand doors from another van etc etc.
Then there's the welding, so far its had 3 pairs of sills, 2 pairs of floors, 2 pairs of A Panels, crossmember, inner wings, front wings, front panel, door skins x 2, rear door repairs, rear wheel arch, bed repair (from a scrapped van), lower quarter panels, door steps, inner sills, all rear subframe mounts. 2 sets of rear valances and rear door step & countless other panels... quite a feat as my welder was bought at the same time I acquired the van
In 2018 I decided it needed some love and finally used all the bits I'd been randomly collecting for many years including an MG Metro engine with 3.1 diff (central oil pick up fitted by Guessworks) , Ripspeed HiLos & S-Discs (found in a scrapyard in the late 90's), new fuel tank, new suspension rubber cones, new clutch & brake master cylinders and new brake lines. Lots of hours spent pulling & smoothing dents etc. The worst job was welding 3 areas of new roof gutter which challenged my fabrication & welding skills to the maximum!!. I had it resprayed in the closest I could get to the original faded green, the sides professionally wrapped & got the Southern Electricity stickers from a graphics company for £35 (and before anyone points it out I know the 'Y' is wrong!). It also had new Newton Commercial interior panels and some 1984 Mini City carpets I found in a scrapyard (again in the 1990's). The wheels I've had for years and were always on the van but had them powder coated (found a 5th one on Ebay).
It does have the original locks, handles, door hinges, glass, wiring loom, number plate lights, badges, chassis plates (including the one on the inner sill) and bumpers which is a miracle. I also have all the tax discs since 1983!
What you see now is the best I could do - its not concours and never will be but its part of my history and for that reason it's perfect.
I'm booked for the London to Brighton Mini run this year but doubt it will take place which is a shame as I would've enjoyed meeting like-minded people!