While there were a number of highly desirable, immaculately-restored machines on show, what caught the attention of media and enthusiasts alike was an early Mini, which is believed to be the oldest unrestored example of its type still in existence.
Registered XLL-27, the 1959 Austin Mini Se7en De Luxe saloon is believed to be the eighth of its type to roll off Mini's Longbridge production line in May, 1959. Despatched to a dealership in Colchester, UK, on the eve of the Mini's launch in August, 1959, much of its early history is unknown, but it had spent the past 25 years in one owner's possession.
Indicated mileage of only 30,041 is believed to be correct, and aside from the replacement of the driver's door, no other major changes have been made to the car, either body or mechanical. The car included rarities - and indicators of early production - like the glass windscreen washer bottle.
With only three other earlier Minis than this known to still exist (one in the British Motor Industry's Heritage Trust collection and the other two in a private collection in Japan), XLL-27 is significant, and this was reflected in its price. Against a pre-auction estimate of $12,000 - $15,000 ($18,877 - $23,600), Mini #8 went for a staggering $40,250 (AU$63,400).
The Farina Grey paint is rough, but original, as is the engine, transmission and most of the mechanical components. Likewise, the interior is all original except for the carpets. Rust is in evidence throughout the body, but given this car's early production lineage, it presents the interesting problem of whether to restore or leave as is.
Across the entire Bonhams Hendon auction, the clearance rate was 86 percent for a total sale figure of over $2 million (AU$3.14M). Top seller was a 1957 Bentley S Series Continental, which made $191,900 (AU$302,000).
More details on the big dollar Mini and other lots from this auction can be found at www.bonhams.com
Images courtesy of Bonhams UK