I had a chance to be in on the ownership consortium with my three friends, but with my usual financial dim-wittedness, I declined. Mostly this was because, caught up in this sudden enthusiasm for primordial 1959 Minis, I had found one of my own which had the great advantages of being intact and functional. Mine was a long way from the obsessive correctness prevalent in the ancient-Mini community – it didn't even have the vital glass washer bottle (£400 upwards on eBay, although a Kilner jar is near-identical) – but it did have a fine assemblage of period tuning modifications, albeit not actually applied to this particular car in period.
My 1959 Morris Mini-Minor, in Cherry Red, had spent boy-racer time with a big capacity engine and a green/white paint job, but a Yorkshire Mini enthusiast rescued it and restored it back to redness. He reinstated a little 848cc engine, too, albeit overbored to 910cc and given a much freer-breathing cylinder head. This was to make better use of the Shorrock supercharger kit he found for it, originally marketed by Allard. (' "Take it in top!" says Sydney Allard, famous sporting motorist,' went the ad of the time as he talked-up the extra torque that would soon be yours.)
The restorer never quite got the Mini to work properly, although it had obvious potential. Neither did two subsequent owners, but I'm pleased to say that I did. Up to a point, anyway. I got the body re-restored to a better standard, sorted out myriad snags, and for a tantalisingly short time, it was spectacularly fast, its speedometer easily coaxed into a second lap. Then the ageing Shorrock went bang. Actually, it did that twice, and the second time I treated it to a complete, beautifully executed and frighteningly expensive rebuild.
As part of the rebuild, I specified a larger drive pulley to slow the supercharger down a bit. It would reduce the power, which was a pity, but it ensured that the 'charger held together and there was still over 70bhp on tap. In this form, running with Cooper S brakes and Koni dampers and looking almost standard apart from wider wheels and a bigger exhaust pipe, the Mini proved immensely entertaining. People just couldn't believe how quick it was for something so obviously ancient.