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South African Minis

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If you have read some of the previous sections, you should have seen a pattern: the earlier the Mini the more like the English Minis, if not exactly the same. As time went on, the differences mounted. The South African Minis are no exception, and South African Mini assembly and production was heavily influenced by the “local content” regulations.

There is one book in the works that will explain the South African Minis in great detail. “A South African Mini Story,” is being written by Ryno Verster. Hopefully, it will be in print before the end of 2006. The working copy already runs to almost 250 pages so you can see the complexity of the Mini history in South Africa.

In the meantime, finding information about the South African cars is difficult. If you happen to own a South African Mini, make good use of the Internet and link up with other owners.

All of the basic Mini body styles were built in South Africa starting with the standard Saloon in January 1960. The Estate, Van, Pick-up (“Bakkie”), and the Moke followed. All of the engine variations were used, too, from the 848cc to the 1275 Cooper S (used in both a Cooper S body and in the Clubman nosed Leyland Mini GTS – the car that the English 1275GT should have been).

If you have a South African Mini, you will find detailed differences from the English cars following a pattern similar to the Australian cars. In fact, the South African Minis made use of the same roll-up, vent wing window doors for a while starting in early 1967.

The round nose Minis were built into 1980. The Clubman square nose version was introduced in 1971 and continued on to October 1983, when Mini production was stopped in South Africa – the last country, other than England, to do so (Mokes excepted!).

In the earlier cars, look for minor differences in exterior and interior trim. Mechanically the cars will be very much the same with minor exceptions in some models like slightly bigger air filter housings, radiator overflow systems, heaters as optional, tropical fans as standard, and other items that would make sense in a harsher, hotter, dusty climate.

In the later cars, the differences became more pronounced with some models having no contemporary equivalent in England. The Wolseley 1000 had a Wolseley Hornet front end combined with a standard Mini saloon rear profile. And the follow-on car, the Mini Mk 3 (not Mk III) had a front end equivalent to an English Mk III, but had the extended boot of the Elf and Hornet! There was even a Clubman convertible.

Interiors, optional exterior trim and badging, and even the engine block changed over time. The later engines had provision for the oil filter in the same position as the MPi; i.e, screwed directly into the block at a downward angle towards the clutch end of the block.

Assembly and production for all models for all years (including imported CKDs) was around 104,000.

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