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.
(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!