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For Sale: 1998 Austin Mini in Ft Worth, Texas

Vehicle Description

With vintage looks, modern power, and exciting handling, this late-production, grey market 1998 Austin Mini is a great opportunity to own a great example of the car that started it all. Essentially every front-wheel-drive compact car that followed duplicated the Mini's groundbreaking design, although very few, including its modern namesake, have ever managed to duplicate its combination of endearing personality and go-cart-like handling.

Mini production continued for decades in England because these iconic little cars were consistently popular. As a result, this rather unusual Flame Red Mini is instantly recognizable anywhere it goes. Mark VII Mini's were the last of the breed, with the "Mini 1.3i" representing a luxurious, yet restrained, and deliciously retro 'modern' classic that capitalized on the car's racing heritage. Like most 'gray market' cars, this one comes with an interesting background, specifically that it's titled as a 1961 - likely an administrative maneuver to ensure it made it into the United States without issue. Regardless of what a piece of paper might say, this was born as a 1998 model, although the styling of these Mark VII Mini's was so faithful to the earlier designs that the distinction between the decades is not that obvious. It's still diminutive, boxy, forward-canted, and features an original-style livery with Flame Red paint offset by a white roof and white racing stripes on the bonnet. The look is instantly recognizable all over the world, with the horizontal grille and fog lights up front, wide fender flares at the flanks, and that butch rear end featuring those iconic 'stacked' taillights. The paint and bodywork look too darn good to be 25 years old, so we suspect it was redone in the not-too-distant past, and whoever laid it down certainly knew what they were doing. Clean drip rails, exact gaps, and straight panels make up a laser-straight steel body that's been adorned with a deep, lustrous, top driver-quality red finish, and with the addition of the white decals on the bonnet and the white roof, the car's curb appeal is off the charts. Slender chrome bumpers fore and aft look great, a white pinstripe terminates into a "Mini Cooper" decal down the side, and tinted windows add to the car's sporty look, and it wears a "Union Jack" license plate and window decal with great pride.

Inside, the diminutive external dimensions are stretched to their limits in every dimension, resulting in a surprisingly comfortable passenger compartment, particularly for front seat occupants. Contemporary two-tone upholstery forms the foundation of the sporty passenger compartment featuring gorgeous black-and-white hides, neatly fitted red carpets are protected by heavy-duty black floormats, and black vinyl door panels soften the look and offer reasonable levels of noise and heat insulation. 1997/1998 were the last years you could still get burled walnut wood in a Mini - later models all featured cheaper body-color steel accents - so this one feels extra sophisticated inside. The steering wheel is thankfully on the left side (or as we Yanks call it, the correct and therefore indeed the 'right' side), and the gauge set-up is classic Mini, with a trio of large units of the driver. The Mark VII replaced the original Mini dash shelf with a full-width dashboard, which afforded space for a trio of auxiliary gauges in the center, a stereo beneath (which has been upgraded to a Kenwood AM/FM/CD/AUC head unit) and left plenty of room for a useful glovebox with a classic Mini badge on the door. Adding to the entertainment, a 4-speed manual transmission sticks up directly from the transmission tunnel and offers decent action and positive gear selection. In back, two passengers will be perfectly happy for a cross-town jaunt, but if you're going farther than a few miles, it's best used for storage, although the trunk itself is surprisingly roomy.

The engine is a gutsy 1275cc Inline-4 (aka the 1.3L) that runs superbly today thanks to obvious signs of great care and maintenance throughout the years. As the last of the Mini's it was all but set in stone that these would be superb little drivers, doubled-down by the fact that they were produced under BMW's stewardship, and the feisty four-cylinder is certainly a blast to push to the limits. True, it only rates at about 63bhp and 95Nm of torque, but when you consider the miniscule sub-750 kilogram curb weight you quickly realize that it's plenty. Remember, these were built to commemorate the past, not pull the Mini into the future (the latter 'capitalized' MINIs did that), and when you're cycling through the 4-speed and stretching this hot-red go-kart to 90mph (which is approximately its top speed) the only thing you'll be thinking off is how silly the giant grin on your face must look. It's completely stock under the bonnet and doesn't really seem to need more power, because it's just such a joy to drive as-is. It starts easily, idles well, and pulls the little car around with genuine enthusiasm. The suspension offers a reasonable compromise between ride and handling, with the conical springs offering a modest amount of damping, so the shocks themselves don't need to be too stiff to do a good job, and the power front disc brakes are the perfect dance partner. The low center of gravity combined with having the wheels pushed out to the very corners of the body give it instantaneous reflexes, a feeling enhanced by the Minilite wheels and relatively fat 175/50/13 Dunlop radials.

Minis are beloved for many reasons, but perhaps most of all for their combination of utility and performance. And this little red Mark VII packs all the best the car has ever had to offer into one awesome package. Call today!

Vehicle Details

  • 1998 Austin Mini
  • Listing ID: CC-1603698
  • Price: $34,995
  • Location:Ft Worth, Texas
  • Year:1998
  • Make:Austin
  • Model:Mini
  • Exterior Color:Red
  • Interior Color:Black
  • Transmission:Manual
  • Odometer:11533
  • Stock Number:5541-DFW
  • VIN:AA257149130
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