Are you tired of hunting down a classic project only to find your quarry is nothing more than a rusty turd? Don’t give up hope. Canadian, Al Dereski, a lifelong Mini enthusiast, has a message for you. “Good things come to those who wait’. His quality field-find lends support to the adage that some classics lie dormant until they find the right owner.

“A gentleman farmer stopped by to say that he had a Mini like mine in his field He went on to say it had been there since the early seventies and likely just good for parts as it was pretty rough. I took his number and made a mental note of it, not thinking into it too much. I waited nearly 2 years to bother calling and going to have a look.”

Al was looking for parts for his Mini pickup restoration. His first glimpse of the car was of a shabby roof lost in a sea of grass and rusty classic clunkers. Wading through the undergrowth he stopped short, seeing a distinctive, wavy chrome grille twinkling back at him. Not just any old mini, but an early Austin Seven, minus engine, wheels and suspension.

He thought his eyes were deceiving him. This car by repute had lain out in the field for some forty years, yet he was looking at a complete body with barely any rust. The Austin bonnet badge was still there as were the ‘ice pick’ door handles, metal push button, window catches, and the fold down rear number plate holder. The empty engine bay was perfectly preserved. The serial numbers revealed it was a 1960 model.

The interior was packed with junk, all liberally plastered with the heinous efforts of Canada’s vermin population. Al dug in. clearing out eight sacks of mice nests and dung. It was dirty, bile inducing work. The interior trim was beyond salvage, and inevitably, the floorpans needed replacing. Al didn’t care. He knew he had found a peach.

Al chatted with the farmer. He told Al the car was parked after burning up a valve sometime around 1970. Shortly after, his father bought the car for parts, removing the rear wheels and suspension for use on a trailer. At the same time he stripped out the 850cc engine, transmission, subframe and steering rack, storing them all in a barn, with the intention of selling them on, and because farmers are busy people, promptly forgot about them.

Forgot about them? Al asked the inevitable question. Sure enough, sitting in a dry barn was the engine, complete with gearbox, ancillaries and perfectly usable subframe. Al even found the original handbook.

Like a proud new dad, Al stopped off to show his new project to his good friend, Scott Newstead of YouTube channel Coldwarmotors. Scott filmed raw footage of them poring over the car and the stash of goodies. The clip is a classic of ‘when two blokes talk cars’. Scott raves about the condition of the sixty year old Austin as Al, chugging coffee and puffing furiously on a tab, geeks out on his find, pointing out all the little things that make this Mini special.

For anyone familiar with scabrous Mini’s, the condition of this one defies belief, far better than examples half its age. Al tells me the car is destined to return to the road “with its original 850 and as much original charm and character as I can retain” There’s no chance of it being a pampered garage queen either. Al insists, “it will wear its tatty sun faded paint with pride when the day comes for it to roll again.”

You can watch the clip here:


*Note, Albertan is a colourful language that may cause offence to those of a sensitive disposition.

About The Author

Steve Swanson

Steve turns any opportunity to write about cars into a roadtrip. It's seen him ride shotgun in a Bentley Blower with Clive Cussler, and cross paths with automotive YouTubers in Canada and the US. His work has been published in Magneto, Classic Cars, Classic American and some magazines that no MotorPunk reader has ever heard of. When he's not writing or driving you can find him kicking tyres at seedy auctions and hawking junk optimistically described as Automobilia

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