1997 Rover Mini
Year of manufacture1997
1997 Rover Mini Saloon
Chassis no. SAXXNWAZRWD149289
By the mid-1990s the Mini had changed little since the last major revision in 1980, seemingly bypassed by advances in safety, security, noise, and emissions. Parent-company Rover realised that if the Mini was to continue it would have to be brought up to date in all these areas. The result, announced on 1st October 1996, was hailed by Rover as "the most radical package of improvements for 36 years". Henceforth, only two models would be offered: the Mini and Mini Cooper, the latter's 1,275cc engine being common to both. This engine had been extensively revised for the new Minis, boasting twin-point fuel injection, electronic ignition, and a redesigned lubrication system, while the radiator was moved from its traditional location at the side the engine to ahead of it. Maximum power of the Mini remained unchanged at 63bhp but there was a useful increase in torque, enabling a higher final drive ratio to be adopted for more relaxed cruising. Defying the sceptics, Rover's engineers even managed to find room for an air bag within the cosy interior, which now featured pre-tensioning seatbelts and considerably more sound insulation, while passenger protection was enhanced by fitting side impact bars within the doors. Further refinements included a two-speed fan, intermittent wiper setting, and an alarm/immobiliser. The 'Rover' badges were deleted, the marque reverting to plain 'Mini'.
These extensive changes confirmed the Mini's change from basic transport to a stylish 'lifestyle' machine targeted at well-off young professionals, though it had always appealed to the latter, particularly in Mini Cooper form. Thus even the ordinary Mini featured pepper-pot alloy wheels, part-leather seats, and a wood dashboard as standard, making it a far cry from the Spartan original. Customers could also choose from an extensive catalogue of accessories, one of the most popular being the Sports Pack, as seen on this example, which also has the optional power-operated full-length fabric sunroof. Boasting flared wheelarches, 6"x13" Minilite-style alloy wheels, Koni dampers, large-bore chrome exhaust tailpipe, and a quartet of auxiliary front lamps, this purposeful Sports Pack Mini really stands out from the crowd.
Finished in Gunmetal Grey with Bordeaux leather interior, the car was restored in 2013 and is described by the vendor as excellent throughout, currently showing 35,405 kilometres on the odometer. Accompanying documentation consists of a Belgian Carte Grise, Belgian Contrôle Technique, and a four-page magazine article (2015).