Modified Mini van made it to Moscow...
Andy Nix’s customised Morris Mini van may not have been the most reliable but it got him to Moscow... well, the one in Scotland.
I bought my first car – a 1963 Morris Mini Van – which had been converted with windows at the side and a folding rear seat conversion, making it into an estate.
I was a 19-year-old apprentice and traded in my Honda 90 motorbike which was utterly reliable. My father helped me pay £165 to the garage but I don’t remember if I ever paid him back in full.
The Mini was not reliable but it took me round the country, as can be seen by the photograph. Not everyone can say they had their photograph taken at the Moscow road sign in 1969 – it’s actually a small hamlet near Kilmarnock in east Ayrshire, Scotland. This was the start of having my photograph taken in remote places, once getting arrested for it many years later but that is another story.
In its life, the Mini had three engines – the final one was a 1,100cc engine converted on to the original 850cc engine’s gearbox and coupled to a Mini Cooper differential.
It went through a complete rebuild, rewire, customisation and respray and was fitted with a car 7in record player – you had to have records with the centres removed to get them to play. All this customisation work was carried out at the DIY motor club that I was a member of at my RAF station in Norfolk.
In 1972 I was transferred to an RAF station in South Wales for further training and, as I was not happy the Mini was up to the long-distance travel to Nottingham every weekend to see my girlfriend, I gave the Mini van to her and bought a 1959 Ford Zephyr or Zodiac.
Tell us about your first car – email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE