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Barn-find Mini gets 're-Born'

2013-11-14 10:35

CLASSIC FIND: A 1959 classic Austin Seven was restored by BMW Netherlands after it was found hidden in a barn for 25 years. Image: BMW

BORN, Netherlands - Finding old classic cars and restoring them is nothing spectacular, but when it’s a 54-year-old classic Mini found in an old barn it’s something very special.

The 1959 Austin Seven was known as car number 983 and took six months to restore at the VDL Nedcar car manufacturing plant in Born, Munich.

View the Austin Seven rebuild gallery

The rebuild also heralds a revival of Mini production in the Netherlands in the near future, says BMW.

This Austin Seven model was one of the first examples of the classic Mini to be assembled in the Netherlands. According to BMW, it was unearthed in 2012 in an old barn in Groningen and became an ideal candidate for the company’s “re-Born” (rebuilt in the town, Born) project marking a new chapter in Dutch-British car making relations.


In 2014 VDL Nedcar will begin production of Mini models under contract, making the automaker the only manufacturer having vehicles series-produced in the Netherlands.

But here’s the story, according to BMW… Apparently a few months after the Austin Seven was  launched in August 1959 – in Morris Mini-Minor and Austin Seven form – the classic Mini found itself another birthplace in the Amersfoort-based firm JJ Molenaar’s Car Companies who assisted in the assembly of more than 4 000 units from 1959 to 1966. Components delivered from Britain, plus one or two special additions only found in the Kingdom of the Netherlands were used.

But this Austin Seven is one of 30 cars built in that first year (1959) in Amersfoort now making a comeback from the barn. This may therefore be the oldest example of the Dutch-built classic Mini currently in roadworthy condition; it is absolutely one of the oldest representatives of the brand anywhere in the world.


The little car was hidden away for almost 25 years before being re-discovered and examined by BMW Group Netherlands employees and it was decided then and there it would be a restoration project. The car’s chassis and production numbers were easily identifiable and the seats were upholstered – in traditional Dutch style, using real horsehair.

A five-man team from VDL Nedcar stripped the car down before gradually piecing it back together again. The small 25kW four-cylinder engine and the gearbox were given a total overhaul and some body parts and the door panels were rebuilt by hand.

Faithful replicas of original parts were used where possible with valuable assistance from the Mini community tracking them down. The restoration process was documented in full on the Mini reBorn Facebook page which attracted a flood of helpful tips from sources around the world.

New Mini model production starts in Born in mid 2014 with 1 500 employees, including the five-man restoration team. While the 're-Born' team will focus on the future of Mini production at the plant, they are reminded of their journey back into the brand’s past as car number 983 – “re-Born” looks over them in the foyer of the new production plant.

Read more on:    austin  |  netherlands

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