problemaddict
problemaddict HalfDork
8/14/19 10:01 p.m.

I was idly searching some JDM importers looking for Kei cars when I started to see some "late model" Minis pop up at what seem to be To Good To Be True prices.

 

 

Is this real life?  Can I really get a running/driving (pre-1994) Mini imported for less than $5k?  What am I missing?

 

Had this been covered already?  I tried searching, but... yeah.

Daylan C
Daylan C UberDork
8/14/19 10:16 p.m.

I have very little to add other than the fact that the 90s Japanese delivered Minis do have some interesting weirdness to them if I remember right.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
8/14/19 10:36 p.m.

I have a Rover Mini!

Rust. They like to rust.

They will also need a transmission rebuild at a fairly young age, as the Mini trans requires a very careful shimming of the idler gear to get the lash just right. Rover didn't bother with all the different shim sizes needed, so they just bunged in a standard size. Allowed to roam free, the idler will attempt to machine its way to freedom. 

They do tend to have the bigger engines and they'll often have disc brakes with 12" or 13" wheels. I would recommend a backdate to smaller discs or drums and 10" wheels, the car works much better that way.

I'm sure the Mini aficionados will come in with more.

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera HalfDork
8/15/19 6:06 a.m.

I'm actively seeking a real Mini and I see a lot in Canada.  I assume they're routed through Canada from Japan or Britain.  Has anyone followed through with importing one?  I sold my 911 last week and a Mini is on my list of cars to buy.

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
8/15/19 7:08 a.m.

Had a Mini for several years. It was a bucket list car. I got mine from an importer with a very good reputation. There are a lot of them that just sell rubbish.

I would never buy a Mini sight unseen. You can't conceive of just how much a car can rust until you've looked at a few of these. They are made of the metal equivalent of paper mache. When they were new they were just cheap cars to most folks and got treated about as well as a Geo Metro. My importer is no longer in the business because the supply of decent affordable cars has mostly dried up. There are only two extremes now, according to him:  really nice, high dollar restorations and complete rubbish.

My car was already in the US and I got to see it before putting any money out. That is the only way I'd buy one. Importation will cost a couple grand in shipping and fees before you are done. Customs and port people are often not fun to deal with. Expect delays...and probably storage fees while they delay you.

Plenty of cars here:  https://www.minimania.com/Cars4Sale_list.cfm 

Article I wrote a decade ago about buying Minis:  http://mongrelmotorsports.purpleflyingmonkey.com/pages/buymini.html

These are fun little cars that will get you a LOT of attention (single guys take note) but don't think the small size and economy car nature mean they are cheap to own. Lots of BS/British Standard quality issues, weird designs (the suspension comes to mind) and tight spaces mean they can be a challenge for the unskilled mechanic.

I had a lot of fun with mine (which was only an 850) but after experiencing it I was satiated and sold it on.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
8/15/19 9:31 a.m.
Apis Mellifera said:

I'm actively seeking a real Mini and I see a lot in Canada.  I assume they're routed through Canada from Japan or Britain.  Has anyone followed through with importing one?  I sold my 911 last week and a Mini is on my list of cars to buy.

My Mini moved from the UK to Canada and then into the US a few years later. It’s quite simple if it’s 25, and almost all of them are now. Just make sure it’s not a re-vin. 

They do date to an earlier era and require a lot of maintenance. Luckily, they’re well supported and documented with high parts availability. Just expect lots of wrenching. 

ebelements
ebelements New Reader
8/15/19 11:38 a.m.

Keep an eye on Japanese Classic's site. They bring these things in every so often, price seems right to me (but what do I know).

https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/1993-rover-mini-1275-2/

Side question, at 6'4", would I fit in one of these?

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
8/15/19 11:42 a.m.

Everything I see says importing a Japanese market mini is the way to go these days.

Iirc JDM minis are also the only minis with factory AC not dealer installed. 

Duncan Imports also tends to have minis as well.

If I get a mini it will very likely be a Japanese market one imported by Duncan imports or the guy here that goes through Pacific coast auto. Or a Japanese Classics import.

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