NOVEMBER 2016: “THE THIEF OF TIME”: A 1961 AUSTIN SEVEN COUNTRYMAN MINI

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The Austin Mini was an automotive reaction to a lesser known fuel shortage in the late Fifties.

 

The 1956 Suez Canal crisis limited British access to Middle East oil and forced England to ration gas for consumers.

 

‘The Mini was a very small four passenger British car that delivered over 40 mpg and helped soften the blow at the gas pumps for its owners.’

 

Austin Minis had front-wheel drive coupled to a transverse-mounted engine and maximized their power to weight efficiency.

 

 

The little cars became iconic in a Model T/Volkswagen Beetle kind of way and enjoy cult-like status in the car hobby.

 

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We spotted a 1961 Austin Seven Countryman Woody Wagon at a show and wanted to get its story, along with a few photos of the car.

 

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Photos without people in the shots proved to be a little difficult because the little Brit attracted plenty of attention at the show. We also had to wait for the Mini’s owner to return for an interview, but it was worth the wait.

 

Owner Evan Verchomin was a big fan of the Minis. He was also a hands-on restorer who called his Mini rebuild project a “thief of time.” The little car was in rough shape and required a major restoration to return it to its former glory.

 

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Evan was an unlikely candidate to tackle a major car project if you judge him by his long tenure as a member of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. For Evan, his Mini is like Beethoven’s Unfinished Symphony because he still has a few items left on his restoration list.

 

It was clear Evan had well-developed mechanical skills that were likely obscured by his sizable musical skills because he has done a rotisserie re-build on what was essentially a basket case Mini. Evan is another good example of why you can never judge a car guy by his job.

 

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The Mini required all new sheet metal, right from the floors in the passenger compartment through to the front grille. It also needed new wood on the exterior of the car.

 

The car was originally blue and eventually got a white paint job before Evan chose to give it a red paint scheme. Red was a good color choice for the Mini if we had to judge the car by its ability to attract people at a car show.

 

Evan likes to drive his car now that he has it registered for the road. Even the registration process was difficult because the previous owner had the wrong VIN numbers and Evan had to go through a painstaking process to verify the car’s authenticity.

 

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It might have been easier for Evan to finish the symphony for Beethoven, but the registration process was worth the effort because now the Mini is back on the road.

 

 

Evan calls his Mini a “sedate driver” because it is not built for speed. The little Brit is working hard at 60 mph (100 km/h) on the highway, so Evan backs off the throttle a little when he is behind the wheel of his Mini.

 

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The real pleasure for Evan is not how fast he gets there in his very cool Mini-it’s how he got there.

 

‘And his 1961 Austin Seven Countryman Mini is a great way to get from Point A to Point B.’

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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