Phil’s Rover Mini Buying Checklist
Rover Mini Buying
As a specialist in the purchase and sale of classic Minis, here is my fundamental checklist when buying a Rover Mini (Mk6 and Mk7). If in doubt, it’s best to arrange a pre-purchase inspection with a qualified mechanic.
Does the Mini have a valid MOT?
Unless you’re seeking to purchase a restoration project, I wouldn’t recommend buying a Mini without a valid MOT. You could be opening up a can of worms.
If the Mini doesn’t have a valid MOT, perhaps ask the seller if they’d be willing to sell the car with one. Ultimately, if the seller is genuinely confident about the car’s condition and roadworthiness, it shouldn’t be a problem for them to get the Mini MOT’d.
Note that I have made this checklist relevant to Rover Minis produced between 1990 and 2001. Earlier, pre-1982 Minis are classified as historic vehicles and are therefore not legally required to have a valid MOT (providing that no ‘substantial changes’ have been made within the last 30 years). However, in the event of an insurance claim, it is difficult to prove the vehicle’s roadworthiness unless it has a valid MOT.
If applicable, have advisories from the last MOT been addressed?
If not, it is likely that the outstanding MOT advisories will need addressing soon before they become reasons for failure. Factor in the relevant costs.
Be wary if the Mini’s MOT expiry date is imminent, especially if outstanding advisories haven’t been addressed.
You can check the Mini’s recent MOT history online: https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history
Is the Mini HPI clear?
Check that the Mini hasn’t been written-off, scrapped, stolen or have any outstanding finance (though the latter is less likely for a classic vehicle). I carry out a HPI check before viewing any car to avoid wasting my time and travel expenses. There are various car history providers to choose from online.
Is the mileage warranted? (Is there documentation dating back to the point of first registration to verify the odometer reading?)
You can check the Mini’s recent mileage increments via the online MOT history. However, as the online MOT history database was only introduced in 2005, you will need to ask the seller about any earlier history they may have. An original stamped service book is ideal.
Given the age of the vehicle, it is not unusual for some paperwork to go missing over time. I wouldn’t say that full documented history is a make-or-break requirement, but I’d certainly be reluctant to spend big money on an example advertised as low-mileage if there is limited documentation to verify the odometer reading.
Is the V5C registration document present?
If purchasing from a private seller, also ensure that the V5C is printed in their name.
Viewing the Mini
What is the exterior and bodywork condition?
Classic Minis are notorious for corrosion. Common areas include the scuttle panel, beneath the headlights, front and rear valences, sills, bottom of the doors and the door sills. I am always suspicious when tread plates are fitted to the door sills – from my experience they are usually covering rust.
Additional checks: Does the Mini have vented sills or oversills? Any accident damage or previous poor repairs (including the boot floor, sills and front floor panels)? If the car has previously been resprayed, what is the quality of the paint finish?
How does the Mini drive? Any synchro issues on the gearbox? Any idling issues? Any overheating? Any oil leaks?
Has the Mini been modified in any way that it differs from its original factory specification?
Insurance companies will typically ask you this, though specialist classic car insurers are likely to be more accommodating if there are any alterations.
Does the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the vehicle match the V5C registration document?
Check that these numbers correlate. You will find the Mini’s VIN number on a rectangular plate attached to the O/S inner wing.
Get to know the owner and their maintenance regime
How long have they owned the Mini and what is their reason for sale? How many previous owners? Is the car stored indoors or outside? Have there been any notable works or repairs undertaken during their current ownership? Is there anything else about the Mini (including any known faults) that they can tell you?
Remember, if in doubt, it’s best to arrange a pre-purchase inspection.
For more information or advice about buying a Rover Mini, please contact me on 01932 640113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Related blog: The Classic Mini – A Quintessential British Icon