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Kelahiran Semula Mini Austin 1959 di Projek Mini reBorn

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Kepada peminat setia Mini Klasik, semestinya anda sukakannya dengan kelahiran semula. Kereta yang terbaik dan menjimatkan minyak sepanjang zaman, anda mesti sukakannya.


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"It was like travelling back in time when we drove the car around the test track." - René de Vries, owner of the 1959 Austin Seven Classic Mini perfectly restored for the MINI reBorn Project
It took more than just a spit shine to get car number 983 up and running again. Discovered last year hidden behind heaps of barn miscellanea in a Dutch village, the Austin Seven Classic Mini was amongst the first ever to roll off the production line 54 years ago at the Amersfoort plant in Born, The Netherlands. As a member of the inaugural class of 1959, the classic recently completed a dramatic restoration and now stands as one of the oldest representatives of the MINI brand anywhere in the world. Commissioned by MINI Netherlands to mark the return of MINI production to the automotive plant in Born, the effort brought MINI history in the region full-circle.

For the five men charged with restarting the long-silent engine - all of whom will join the 1,500 strong team that will begin producing new models in Summer 2014 at the VDL Nedcar plant in Born - the challenge was both an honour and a test of their skills.

So how exactly does one raise an icon out of disrepair and back to its former glory? Watch the video below to see the evolution and grand reveal of this project, then read on for an exclusive, first-hand account from the lucky owner of this classic to learn how the expert hands of the MINI reBorn Restoration Team got the job done.

Before. The MINI reBorn Restoration left to right: Johhny Henkens, Jacky Fiddelaers, Wiel Henssen, Leon Swelsen, Leon Schrooten.
After. The MINI reBorn Restoration Team, with the owner and technical advisor, left to right: technical advisor Sipke Blom, Jacky Fiddelaers, owner René de Vries, Leon Swelsen, Leon Schrooten, Johnny Henkens, Wiel Henssen.

A project like this takes a village. Early on, the team knew that no matter how experienced they might be, it would require a collective effort. "On our Facebook page, we posted the parts that we were searching for," explained René, who was closely involved with the project's development.

When you're dealing with a car that's been out of commission for decades, you can't just swing by your local auto shop for a new spark plug. Every step is a challenge. Imagine you've got a list of needed parts, but the pieces you're looking for are scattered far and wide in unknown locations across Europe. They may be near. They may be far. It's a continental scavenger hunt as much as it is a 3D puzzle.

That's when the extended MINI community comes in handy. "We couldn't finish this project the right way without the help of the 1959 Mini Register." The fan-founded club contributed parts to the project and assisted in confirming the car's authenticity, making it a prime example of how enthusiasts can work collaboratively through a MINI Club. "If there are questions or problems during your own [restoration] project," René advises, "contact the clubs. They can give you the right advice."

The pieces for this 1959 Austin Seven Classic Mini came together from many other sources, but luckily, most were found regionally, either from within the Netherlands or nearby in Denmark or the UK. Relative proximity, however, hardly meant the parts were easy finds. "The biggest search was the glass washer bottle." Right at the beginning of the project, René and the team asked for help in tracking it down from those following the progress on Facebook. Still, the antique piece proved extremely elusive. "We found it only 3 days before the presentation of the car!"

In addition to the well-preserved chassis and production number, it was the unique upholstery of the seats that helped confirm that this Classic Mini was produced at the Born plant in the Netherlands. In the traditional Dutch style, they were filled with

Ultimately, the Classic Mini was tuned up using an assortment of original equipment (OE), original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and some that were rebuilt from scratch by the team on site. René described the condition it was found in and some of the biggest hurdles: "The car was very original. The restoration of the body was the biggest challenge. It was very rusty and we had to reconstruct the whole floor, rear panels and doors. The rebuilding of the car after the paintjob was a very enjoyable stage though. We had all the parts ready and tested. So that went straightforward."

After six months of searching, sandblasting, and fine-tuning, the moment came to turn the key. "The engine started up the first time after the restoration. It was like travelling back in time when we drove the car around the test track."

A priceless moment. The 1959 Austin Seven Classic Mini takes its first spin in decades.

"This car is a very early car and has been restored very well, retaining nearly every correct detail that the early cars have." This appraisal was given by Michael Eslberg, a representative from the 1959 Mini Register and an expert on the earliest examples of Classic Mini. "It was perfectly restored," he added with a smile.

Seeing this classic reborn - right down to its original paintjob of Farina Grey - is a crowning achievement not only for the MINI reBorn Restoration Team and MINI Netherlands, but for any and all who are excited to see MINI tacking on more miles to the road ahead. The latest generation - recently unveiled on Classic Mini designer Sir Alec Issigonis's 107th birthday - ensures that the signature go-kart feeling first pioneered in 1959 will continue to win over drivers for many years to come.

Read more about the MINI reBorn project here.


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