What's this all about?

    This is about driving a Mini across America. It is about what happens 

along the way and about the Mini owners I am fortunate enough to meet. Some 

travel commentary may sneak in now and then, but Minis are the main theme. As 

long as all the new technology holds up (laptop, digital camera, Internet 

access) and all the old technology holds up (in the form of one Wolseley 

1000...and driver), dialogue and photos will get posted as we make our way 

across the US.

    The real short version of, "Why?" is "Why not." The slightly longer 

version is that I had purchased a South African Wolseley 1000 Mini during a 

trip there in May of this year and was working on getting it home. About that 

time a friend in Seattle said that he was driving to just north of Ft. 

Lauderdale, Florida (just over 4000 miles by the route planned), wanted some 

company and would supply the car and gas. He asked if I wanted to go along. 

It took all of three or four seconds to make up my mind! Shortly after it 

dawned on me that I'd be in Florida with no easy way home. (The friend was 

staying through September.) You see where I'm going with this already, don't 

you? Why not ship the Wolseley to Florida and drive it home? So I did. Or, at 

least the shipping to Florida has happened. (Told you this was the short 


    The route plan is subject to continual revision (it changed twice today, 

for instance), but in general, I'll be proceeding up the East Coast to about 

Newport News, Va. (At the time of this writing, I'm in Charleston, SC.) I'll 

turn west from there, follow the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway 

southwest and then turn towards St. Louis. After that, time permitting, I 

plan on following in the (figurative) footsteps of Lewis and Clark by making 

my way home along the Missouri River. Time may become a factor near the end 

of the journey, but the idea is to explore a little and drive on the back 

roads, staying off of the Interstates. I need to be back in the Northwest in 

time to get to the All British Field Meet in Portland, Oregon to be held over 

Labor Day Weekend.

Mini Owners Across America

    As I travel I hope to be able to meet up with many of the Mini owners 

that I've heard about, read about or "conversed with" on the various Mini web 

sites; especially, the Mini Mania Board. Camera in hand, photos of Minis and 

their owners should appear on the Mini Mania web site. If you are somewhere 

alone the route, let me know by email (Cheleker@aol.com) and I'll make every 

effort to link up. 

What's a Wolseley 1000?

    We all tend to get caught up in Minis being just what we've seen as 

produced in England forgetting that they were manufactured in more than a few 

countries and assembled in many more. (I've heard 19, but haven't ever 

bothered to count them.) Each of these countries seemed to put their own spin 

on the cars and South Africa was no exception. One of the specific to South 

African cars is the Wolseley 1000. In its simplest terms it is a cross 

between an English Mk I and an English Mk II Saloon with a Wolseley Hornet 

front end. Roughly about 450 were produced during 1968 and 1969. (No factory 

records exist for the South African Minis.)

    The 1968 version I purchased has been extensively rebuilt, mostly 

restored, but with some changes. It retains the 998, single HS2 carb, 

3-syncro, magic wand gearbox and, most important, the turn signal light on 

the end of the stalk! The dash is the 3-gauge center pod and the doors are 

the "Australian" type with the quarter windows. (I don't know whether these 

were made in Australia and imported to S.A., or built in S.A., as well.) The 

brakes are standard for the time with dual leading shoes and the wheels are 3 

1/2" with 145/10 radials.

    As a point of interest, after the Wolseley 1000s were dropped, Leyland 

South Africa went on to produce their version of the Mk III Mini. Called the 

Mk 3 it had the Mk III saloon round-nose look but with the Hornet/Elf 

extended boot! What can I say?

    I hope you enjoy this little trip and the chance to meet other Mini 

owners thanks to our host, Mini Mania.

Chuck Heleker

(Today from Charleston, South Carolina)


A South African Wolseley 1000. Looks a lot like an English Wolseley Hornet.


...except the Wolseley 1000 has a regular saloon back end!


A must for any Mini!