Classic rally car restored

Stirling man Cam Luke with his restored 1971 Austin Clubman GT which was driven by Angus Hyslop...
Stirling man Cam Luke with his restored 1971 Austin Clubman GT which was driven by Angus Hyslop and co-driver Mike Langley in the 1972 Heatway International Rally. Photo by Helena De Reus.
Hyslop and Langley in the car tackling a night stage in the 1972 Heatway International Rally....
Hyslop and Langley in the car tackling a night stage in the 1972 Heatway International Rally. Photo supplied.

It has been a labour of love restoring a 41-year-old Mini with a big history.

Cam Luke has spent five years restoring a 1971 Austin Mini Clubman GT in between his day shifts as a supervising operator at Fonterra's Stirling cheese factory.

The car was one of two Minis in the 1972 Heatway International Rally and finished fifth overall while its twin took the top title.

This year marks 40 years since the rally was won by a Mini. The rally started and finished in Wellington, rally cars travelling as far north as Auckland and returning via the East Coast, often on back roads.

The New Zealand Motor Corporation team for the 1972 Heatway International Rally consisted of four cars - two Minis and two Morris Marinas.

The Morris Mini Clubman GT was driven by Scotsman Andrew Cowan, with Jim Scott as co-driver, while the Austin Mini Clubman GT had Angus Hyslop at the wheel and Mike Langley beside him as co-driver.

"Originally, Andrew was to have driven one of the Marinas. Apparently, his reply to that suggestion was something along the lines of: 'Stuff that for a game of soldiers; give me a Mini and I will win the rally for you'. Of course he went on to honour his promise and brought the little Mini home to an outright first place," Mr Luke said.

The Hyslop-Langley car was fifth.

The two Marinas did not do well in the rally.

The two Minis were driven in a few other rallies before being sold.

Mr Luke said the Austin Mini sat in storage for 23 years before he bought it around 2001.

"It was very complete, which is unusual for an old rally car. A lot of competition cars were scrapped for parts. Everything had seized so I dropped the subframes out, stripped them down and sand-blasted them. They have been rebuilt, with new parts as necessary."

The bodyshell was sand-blasted on the underside and then repainted on the exterior.

The paint job alone cost $5500.

Both the interior and car boot interior have not been touched and are in their original conditions. However, the motor and gearbox have been fully reconditioned, brakes rebuilt with new rear wheel cylinders, overhauled front callipers, re-kitted master cylinder and new brake hoses.

"Basically, everything mechanical has been overhauled," Mr Luke said.

The biggest job was reproducing the decals which were carefully re-created to match the originals so it looked the same today as it did on the 1972 Heatway International Rally, he said.

The hardest part to find was the sump guard, which broke in half during a rally in New Caledonia in 1974.

"I ended up tracking down a replacement sump guard online, in Italy."

Mr Luke had the motor reconditioned in February, finishing the five-year restoration project.

"These cars were no-frills - a basic car designed to get you from A to B."

Mr Luke has been restoring Minis for 35 years and spent four years specialising in Mini restoration as his fulltime job.

He has started his own restoration business British Motoring Classics where he works part-time.

"My first car was a turquoise 1963 Austin Mini, inherited from my aunty. I had that for three or four years. I don't think a year has passed when I didn't have a Mini in some form or another."

Mr Luke said the only drawback with the car was the cramped interior.

"You tend to get out all bent over, like a half-open pocketknife."

The Mini left Stirling on Tuesdayfor the North Island and will be on display at the Brother Rally New Zealand in Auckland from June 21 to 24, and at the BMW showroom, before going on display in the Hawkes Bay.



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