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James Harris: Rover Mini Thirty

1989 was the thirtieth year of Mini production and to celebrate Rover launched yet another special edition Mini, but this one was a bit more special than most. It celebrated a real milestone and was quite lavishly specified (for a Mini!) Based on the top of the range Mayfair it was the first to receive the Minilite style alloy wheels that later became a standard feature of the relaunched Mini Cooper, deep pile red carpets, half leather seats, a red leather bound steering wheel, upgraded radio cassette player, chrome handles/bumpers and each car was supplied with a leather bound version of the book 'Mini, Thirty Years On' by Rob Golding. Mechanically it was the same as any other Mini in the range, featuring a 998cc A+ engine with an unleaded cylinder head mated to either a manual or automatic gearbox. Mine is a manual. 3,000 were made for the UK market 1,000 in black and 2,000 in Cherry Red. This was a new type of pearlescent paint developed for the Rover 800. Both colours were given two coats of lacquer for an extra deep shine. The list price was £5,995. My car was supplied new by Westridge Garage in Ryde on the Isle of Wight to a Mini enthusiast. He kept the car until 2011, at which point she had only covered 39k miles. Luckily she had always been kept garaged and treated as something a bit special. The second owner kept the car until 2016, covering less than 1,000 miles. Again, she was kept in a dry garage which has done wonders to preserve her. All of the panels are original, she has never been welded and apart from a small area of bubbling under the rear window rubber is totally rot free. I'm the third owner and I too keep her in a dry garage, but I do use her. The mileage is now 48k and in my ownership I have replaced the complete suspension system, cooling system, rear brakes and ignition. The only deviations from standard spec are halogen headlights, a discreet high level brake light and electronic ignition. Whilst not as head turning as a modified car, it's really nice to drive a car that feels just as the manufacturer intended. She has proven totally reliable and pleasant to drive on long journeys in all weathers. She handles well, rides nicely and has, for me, the correct Mini soundtrack courtesy of the standard spec 'pea shooter' exhaust.