Speedwell Mini 850 for sale
After almost 40 years in storage, this Mini has been brought back to its former glory
By Matt Bird / Monday, December 14, 2020
"From the outside your car will look little different from any other apart from the small Speedwell badge", is how the famous Mini tuner used to sell its wares. "But a mile behind the wheel and you will soon find out what Speedwelled means. A Speedwell engine conversion will give you the performance you want a price you can afford." How good does that sound?
Back in the day – as in more than half a century ago now – Speedwell were the people to visit for Mini tuning. Their reputation with the A Series was unparalleled, and a raft of additional modifications meant pretty much anyone could get almost anything they wanted for their Mini from Speedwell. A Motorsport magazine from July 1964 gives some idea of just how comprehensive the catalogue was. A 'Grand Touring engine kit' brought an alloy cylinder head, twin carbs – your choice of twin S.U. HS2, twin Amal or single downdraught Weber with double chokes – and a twin-pipe exhaust. The entire kit cost £70, but the cylinder head and carb kit could be brought separately. There were Speedwell upgrades for almost all budgets, and they were well proven too.
With so much time having passed since the heyday of original Mini tuning, and with so many different companies offering parts, it's unusual to find a Speedwell car todya. But here we have one, a Mini 850 upgraded with Speedwell's Sprint Stage 1 package. It's not clear exactly what that delivered in terms of power, but SS1 comprised plenty of worthwhile tweaks: the twin carb upgrade as mentioned in the Motorsport story, Speedwell inlet manifolds, uprated valve springs, a skimmed and polished head and a three branch exhaust manifold. This car was also treated to front disc brakes, plus Speedwell-specific wheels and instruments.
Even by the standards of Minis modified by the Speedwell garage on Cornwall Avenue, though, this Super De Luxe is something special. Having been put into storage at the start of the 1980s, it was only recently rediscovered and subjected to a painstaking three-year restoration. The Surf Blue paint was entirely redone, and every part possible was stripped and overhauled to preserve originality; the advert says the idea was to "continue the Mini's story, not to rewrite it."
Apparently the work cost more than £25,000, with the concours prizes to back up the quality of the work. That the condition comes alongside a formidable history file – including the original service voucher booklet, a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate and Speedwell catalogues – must make this a Mini like no other. Some might see it as too good to drive, and that would be easy enough to understand, but the Speedwell upgrades were very seldom about anything other than making Minis even more fun. Given what Minis once cost, some will smirk at £30k – but with the work that's gone into this one, its provenance and current used values, it will likely make sense to someone. Either way, what a find!
Sources: Mk1 Performance Conversions, Motorsport Magazine
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