An early Mark 1. One owner, 31k miles from new, and dusty. Over the phone it was too good to be true. In person, walking into the climate-controlled warehouse corner where the car had resided for the last five decades, it was oh-so true. The car was immediately recognizable as special, and the fact that it had been completely hidden from the public eye, or sunlight even, for so long only amplified that. We had an idea of the kind of scene we would be walking into when we arrived, as Marvin, the owner, had told us over the phone that he’s been buying cars new since the late 50s, driving them for a handful of years, and parking them indefinitely in a warehouse. But what we stumbled into was even more impressive than we were prepared for…
While the 1275S was the real apple of our eye, the whole lot was pretty excellent. The 911 next to it? Marvin bought it new in 1984, drove it 9,000 miles in six years, then parked it. Top down, windows down; “It must’ve been sunny the last time I drove it.” The totally rad, doesn’t-get-any-more-80s-than-this Shelby Omni GLHS? Also like-new with just 9,000 miles from new. The motorcycles—tasteful, low-mile imports. Rows of them. Pre-war BSAs, 70s Japanese two-strokes, and the full catalog of Motoguzzis. As hard as it is to believe, at a whopping 31k-miles from new, the Mini was the highest-mileage vehicle in the room by a healthy margin.
We spoke with Marvin at length about the 1275S, the car that has long claimed the top spot on a seemingly never-ending list of cars he’s owned over the course of the last sixty years. He told us of how the car was actually a replacement for his 1071S, which he totaled in dramatic fashion when he rolled six times while chasing a friend in another Mini. He tells us about contacting Walker Imports on Cicero Ave just days after the wreck and placing an order for the new, incoming 1275cc Cooper S. Three months later, in September 1964, the first 1275Ss arrive stateside and Marvin takes delivery of his car. He was actually told that his car was one of the first three 1275Ss to ship to North America, with the other two cars having been destined for the east coast. Though we cannot verify the validity of that claim, the car is an extremely early example, the 680th produced (build date August 28th, 1964), so it’s certainly possible. This car was actually so early in production that it predated the 1275’s signature Hydrolastic suspension, which ups its rarity even further. The more desirable “dry” suspension, the new-for-’64 1275cc engine, optional dual fuel tanks and wider wheels, and in the fantastic Old English White over red colorway, this Mini truly does tick all the boxes.
Marvin drove the car actively throughout the 60s and 70s before last parking it in 1990. According to him, the Mini could really do it all. He recalls the car muscling its way through two feet of snow in the famous Chicago blizzard of 1967, and once reliably transporting he and his girlfriend at the time all the way from Chicago to California, down the coastline, and back to Chicago.
With cars like this, while the spec will definitely carry some weight, much of the value is tied up in originality. So, how original is this car? Extremely, just how we like it. The car saw one bare metal respray in 1980 in the same colors, and coincidentally, the gentleman who painted the car back then happens to have been an acquaintance of ours for years. Aside from the one respray, the car really is bone stock. This car has never seen rust repair or damage; Marvin learned his lesson after destroying his first Cooper S, these are cars that deserve to be taken care of. Marvin even had the foresight to hold onto all of the car’s original parts, so we actually have the original tires and carpet saved in a box.
We purchased this car in the spring of 2018, and the timing really couldn’t have been better. Over the course of the last year, these cars have begun to experience a serious uptick in value. The beauty in this isn’t necessarily just that the car is an appreciating asset, we’re planning on enjoying the car for a while longer anyway, but the recent value tick has drawn more Mark 1 Cooper Ss into the market, which gives us an opportunity to learn more about what we have. By looking at what else is out there, we’re able to really see how our car stacks up in terms of originality, condition, and provenance. Looking at the market then back at our car just confirms that initial gut feeling we had last spring; this car is something special.
Written by: Jake DePierro
It may not look like much, but this dusty Jag is a car we’re glad to have caught wind of. While we receive a fair amount of phone calls from folks with rusted-out classics looking for someone to take the project off their hands, it’s somewhat rare that these cars are close-by or desirable enough to warrant us getting the truck and trailer prepped for action. That’s what initially made this MK2 Jag so appealing; located in Clinton, Iowa, just under three hours away, this would be a single day round-trip. Though the gentleman who we spoke with wasn’t able to tell us much of any history about the car itself, he did tell us about how it had come into his possession. He had purchased a run-down old farm at auction with the intention of cleaning it up and flipping it, and upon visiting the property he was pleasantly surprised to find this car in one of the three dilapidated barns on the property. It was trapped in there, undisturbed since the early 80s thanks to a wall of cinderblocks sealing off the barn’s door. He sent us a couple not-very-revealing photos of the car and it looked half decent, so we agreed to buy it and got our ducks in a row for a quick trip to Iowa.
So, what drew us to this car? Aside from being dusty and close to home, of course. Well, the MKII Jag is an interesting car, having been ahead of it’s time in a number of ways when it first came to market in 1959. As this example is from the first year of production, it’s particularly special. While high-performance sedans are a dime a dozen today, in 1959, this was not the case. This car was extremely well-optioned from the factory; this car is equipped with the top-of-the-range 220hp 3.8L Inline-6 (later modified to see use in the world-renowned XKE), a limited slip differential, four wheel disc brakes, power steering, and an automatic transmission. Not to mention, it’s also left-hand-drive! To put that in perspective, even the Mercedes 300SL, a performance benchmark, didn’t have disc brakes in 1960!
We’ve come to the conclusion that steel wheels with polished hubcaps look good on anything, and this was another item that drew us to the car. Wire wheels are generally seen as more desirable, but we’re suckers for body-colored steelies and seeing the peeling red paint on the car’s steelies really gets us dreaming of how magnificent this car must have looked back in 1960, bombing down the interstate at 120mph, original red paint over red leather and red steelies. Luckily for us, the original polished hubcaps were stored in the trunk and survived in like-new condition.
The license plate sticker tells us that the last time the car was road registered was 1983, and from the looks of it, it hasn’t moved an inch since. After 35+ years of sitting stationary, the car had begun to grow roots. With the tires having run flat, the car actually began to sink into the earth beneath it. This wouldn’t just a be a hook-up-the-winch-and-have-at-it kind of retrieval mission, we were going to have to work for it. We began by moving the wall of cinderblocks, one by one, to free up the barn door. Of course we chose to do this the day after a snowstorm. After freeing up the barn door, the next step was getting the winch connected. Since the car had sunk into the dirt, we actually had to dig out the rear end of the car and jam planks of wood under there in order to be able to smoothly winch the car out into the daylight.
Hello World! The orientation of the car in the barn had masked the condition of the passenger rocker, which was a bit unfortunate. But overall, this car has a lot going for it. There are too many positives for us to get caught up with the condition of the rockers. I mean, just look at that interior! We put a battery in it, and immediately all (really, all) of the interior lights turned on, the Smiths Radiomobile powered on, and even the wiper sprayers are still good! After nearly four decades; just amazing. So much for Lucas electronics being unreliable!
Talk about a head-turner. We went into town for lunch after the retrieval mission, and in about thirty seconds we had a group of local guys gathered around the car, all eager to share their barn-find stories. That’s what classic cars do, regardless of if they’re dusty and rusty or spotless museum pieces. Classic cars bring people together, and it’s just one of the many reasons why we love ‘em.
Written by: Jake DePierro
While so many of the cars that we purchase are scattered about the United States, which can be a bit nerve-racking as a buyer, every so often we’re lucky enough to come across gems right here in our backyard. Read more
As classic car enthusiasts, we’re always on the hunt for interesting projects. We love all of the oddball water-cooled Porsches of the 1980s, so when we got word of an ‘81 928S sitting on blocks in a backyard garage in the Chicago suburbs we got properly excited, albeit a bit skeptical as we knew that 1983 was the first year the 928S had been sold in the United States. We got in touch with the owner, and requested the VIN. Low and behold, the car was truly an ‘81 928S Euro-market car. We immediately got our flatbed ready to go. When we arrived at the owner’s property, here’s what we saw: Read more