Classic Mini motors in Cowley Templars Square for 60th birthday
A little car with a big connection to Oxford was celebrated this week with a showcase of classic Mini motors.
Ten Minis are currently on display in Templars Square shopping centre as part of an exhibition to coincide with the 60th birthday of the popular Cowley-built car.
Organiser Tanya Field, who started work at the Cowley plant in 1988 as an apprentice technician and has had a lifelong love of the Mini, said: “It’s fantastic to see how popular the cars still is with all ages.
“We have kids who want to sit inside – especially the car that is painted to look like the Mystery Machine- and lots of former workers who stopping to share their memories.”
She explained: “Having it in a shopping centre for a whole week means it is truly accessible for the whole community, whether people have disabilities, dementia or just don’t have a lot of time.”
Many shoppers stopped to admire the motors on the first day of the exhibition on Sunday. Local resident Graham Scott was particularly taken by a blue 1959 Austin Seven Mini – one of the first Minis made.
He said: “It the same model as the first car I ever owned. I bought it for £10 and had it for about three years. I loved that car, I regret selling it now.”
A new generation have also embraced the tiny motor, with Jack Martin, 18, proudly displaying his 1999 Mini Cooper Sport, which he bought last year. The Long Hanborough teen is also an apprentice at Mini Plant Oxford and said his passion for engineering had helped fuel his desire to own the classic car.
He said: “I’m not sure which came first really but my love of Minis has definitely grown since I started working there.”
Others models in the Cowley shopping centre, which is just a couple of miles from the plant, include a 1969 Riley Elf, a 1971 MK3 Cooper S in Italian Job livery and a distinctive 1981 Australian built Mini Moke.
Visitors are being encouraged to share their memories of the classic car as well as sign an Oxford-built MINI Cooper S Hatch, loaned by Mini Plant Oxford. throughout the week.
Some of the owners of the cars will be also be on hand to answer any questions while their vintage motors are displayed.
Raymond Smith, who converted his 1972 Mini from a saloon to an open-top car 15 years ago, said: “We still like to get it out a lot on the road a lot but it needs the right weather, last summer was perfect.”
Ken O’Hare, who has owned his 1969 Riley Elf for almost 20 years, added: “It’s a really fun car to drive.”
Kay Drury of MiniWorld magazine will also be visiting the shopping centre on Thursday and is keen to speak to those who worked at the Cowley Mini plant and who were involved with the classic car during its development and production between 1959 and 1968.
Ex-workers who would like to be interviewed by him are invited to come to the display between 10.30am and 3.30pm.
The display is open 8am until 6pm until Saturday.