During the Second World War a complex of tunnels was built under Austin’s Longbridge factory, in which manufacturing for the war effort took place. In subsequent years, the tunnels were a convenient place to store – and scrap – material from the factory. Latterly, these tunnels fell into disrepair and have been sealed up.
With only 11 miles showing on the clock, this Mini 1275GT had been used as a workers’ ferry around the Longbridge site. It is thought that a storage container was accidentally dropped on the car and so it was disposed of by ‘parking’ it in a tunnel. Any useful parts, from the engine to wheels and trim, were soon removed.
When MG Rover failed in 2005, the abandoned factory was a popular destination for so-called ‘urban explorers’ who crept into the derelict industrial spaces and took photographs. One explorer captured the battered remains of the Mini 1275GT in one of the tunnels, an image that caught the imagination of an ex-Longbridge worker and enthusiast. Finally, with the help of the property owner St. Modwen, in 2012 the shell was exhumed from the tunnel.
Some have claimed it’s the last Mini to leave the Longbridge plant. Of course, that title really belongs to the final Cooper, now in the Museum’s collection. This Mini 1275GT, however, is certainly a quirky piece of industrial history.