The last original Mini was driven off the Longbridge production line in Birmingham on October 4, 2000.
It was a red Mini Cooper, almost identical in looks to the one owned by Steve Broadbent, a self-confessed classic car enthusiast and member of the Mini Car Club of Auckland based in Howick.
As noted by media at the time, the occasion at MG Rover’s Lowhill Lane factory was historically significant and drew in celebrities, the world’s press, workers and Mini enthusiasts as that last car was rolled out (behind the wheel was 60s pop star Lulu with the theme hit movie The Italian Job completing the picture).
Broadbent’s affinity for these machines may not be so surprising. The 49-year-old Brit – who has lived in New Zealand for 17 years – is an electrical engineer and actually worked at the Longbridge plant.
Originally from Cheshire, Broadbent is fairly sure the penchant for these vehicles must have been inspired during his early motoring years and his connection to friends and family in the UK.
“I used to do a lot of work at Longbridge and used to see the cars coming off the line.”
The love of those classic European cars isn’t confined to Minis either. In his late teens and early 20s he was driving the British and European hot hatches of the day.
His first car was an MG Metro followed by an MG Metro Turbo (which used the same basic engine as the Mini).
But it’s the Mini which has his heart. He owns four of them – as well as a Porsche 911.
“I’ve recently got back into my classic cars,” said Broadbent.
“It’s that visceral and mechanical connection to the whole driving experience that really appeals in these classics.
“Minis create that connection from a driving perspective and on the outside they bridge that generational gap where people stop and admire these.”
He cites several other examples of how a Mini sparks memories from others – their father had a Mini, they remember packing in the family and going to the beach in one, their first car was a Mini, or ‘I learnt to drive in a Mini.’
“All these stories are such common place when you park up and someone comes over to share their connection,” he said.
Meanwhile the Mini Car Club of Auckland continues to enjoy a growing trend of membership.
“It’s so enlightening to see new young members joining the club where their first car is a Mini – amazing,” said Broadbent.
“Maybe it’s something to do with the cars’ endearing movie status as they appear in scenes of The Italian Job, Goodbye Pork Pie, Transformers, Mr Bean, The Bourne Identity and more.
“We’ll be bringing some themes through to the Brit & Euro Classic Car Show this year as we release the Revival Theme and special display area for the first time.
“We’ll be stepping up the game with Brit & Euro Revival theme, so watch this space and come and share those stories with us on March 7.”
- Brit & Euro Classic Car Show, Lloyd Elsmore Reserve, Sunday, March 7, 2021 from 10am-3pm.