Francisco Rodríguez’s youthful dream was to own a Mini. He didn’t get it. But his life treated him well: he raised his own family, he is the owner of the Orquesta Gomera –where he also plays– and although in his early years it was not enough for him to have the small and emblematic English carhe did enjoy a no less iconic Seat 127. «Since I couldn’t have the Mini, I bought a 127, which my wife later made me sell for 75,000 pesetas… This is now forty-something years ago, and since then I The remorse for having sold it remained”, recalled Francisco Rodríguez yesterday, from La Gomera as the orchestra that helms, in the X edition of the La Esperanza Minis Exhibition, which brought together almost a hundred of the most classic Mini models that roll around the Islands.
Sporty, formal, some right-hand drive –the first model was born in Oxford in 1969, so some of the cars that were shown off in La Esperanza yesterday arrived from England to the Archipelago–, more or less retouched or as original as when they left the factory several decades ago. .. And among all of them, an olive green model, with freshly polished paint, which for a year has made Francisco Rodríguez’s remorse for having sold his Seat 127 more bearable. And, sometimes, dreams come true , even the dreams of youth.
Francisco found the Mini he had always wanted in a garage in La Orotava. A private garage in which he had been sleeping for twelve years without even passing the Technical Vehicle Inspection (ITV). It did not matter. He didn’t even think about it. He reached an agreement with the previous owner of it and bought it from her. Almost half a century later, this man from La Gomera finally had the car of his life, the one that remains in the retina forever when seen for the first time through the eyes of a child or adolescent. Of course you had to tune it up, and yours has cost.
Hundreds of visitors
Hundreds of people from different parts of the Island passed through the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in El Rosario, especially from the north and from the metropolitan area. Ramón, a resident of La Matanza, explained to his nine-year-old son Borja the details of the engine of an immaculate red Mini GT of up to 1,275 cubic centimeters. “This has to fly,” he commented. Not surprisingly, the classic models did not even weigh 700 kilos, so the sportier versions, such as the GT, were and are real bullets. The combination was explosive: an ultralight car equipped with an engine of almost 1,300 cubic centimeters, the same one that, by the way, mounted the Austin Morris. Francisco Rodríguez’s is the most classic 850, the one that everyone comes to mind when someone talks about the Mini. The 850 was, of course, due to its displacement, tiny but more than enough for a car just as tiny.
Oddly enough, Francisco took his Mini from La Orotava to La Gomera by his own foot, or rather by his own wheel. Despite that long dozen years in which he remained stationary, the car did not need much to get going. “After twelve years, it was cleaned and it started without major problems,” he said while posing for a photo with one of the many onlookers who admired his vehicle. Of course, then he had to put his hand to the bottom so that today it looks resplendent and so that his engine can roar as it did back in the seventies of the last century. «I changed the six brake cylinders, the brake cylinder, the clutch cylinder… Well, I changed everything. All”. And all, of course, original.
Francisco remembers that he had to “break down” his Mini from top to bottom: “Everything was thrown to the ground, the bottom of the trunk was changed, and the bottom of the bottom was impeccable.” The result is unbeatable, and those who stopped to take a look at it yesterday attested to it. No wonder Francisco proudly pointed out the favorable ITV sticker in the upper left corner of the windshield.
In its tenth edition, the Classic Minis Exhibition, which is part of the El Rosario festivities program in honor of the Virgen de Nuestra Señora de La Esperanza, has already become an appointment marked in red on the calendar of lovers the motor. Yesterday was, by far, one of the editions with the greatest influx of visitors, which helped nearby bars and restaurants to have a better Sunday than usual.
The exhibition is organized by the El Rosario City Council, whose mayor, Escolástico Gil, took a walk among the Minis together with several members of the municipal government team, and the Minimanía collective. The Group of Friends Minimania Tenerife, as it is called, is one of the most active motor sport organizations on the Island, and even has its own registered brand and logo. However, in yesterday’s meeting there were not only Minis from Tenerife, but also from Gran Canaria or, as in the case of Francisco Rodríguez and his brand new 850, from La Gomera. The exhibition is already, in fact, one of the largest concentrations of Minis in the entire Archipelago, and it has nothing to envy to those held in other places in Spain. Some of the Minis that were displayed in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in El Rosario are almost fifty years old, and in their time they cost between 90,000 and 125,000 pesetas. To get an idea of its current price, it is enough to point out that Francisco paid 3,000 euros for his vehicle, although the value that these cars have for their owners is not measured in euros.
In any case, among the most valued models in strictly monetary terms there were several sports cars prepared for rallies, which were the favorites of the little ones.
But the Mini is not a car, or at least not just a car. A worldwide survey ranked this small vehicle from the British Leyland Motor Corporation – the now-extinct car group born in 1968, which revolutionized the motor world a year later with the launch of the Mini – as the second most influential car of the century. XX, only behind the also well-known Ford T. Currently, and since the year 2000, Mini has been owned by the German giant BMW, and although it was born as such in 1969, the Mini name was already on Austin and Morris models for ten years before. Without going any further, yesterday in El Rosario several Austin Minis could be seen in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, authentic relics.
Already with BMW engineers at the controls, the Mini continues to enjoy good health. The most representative current model, created by the American designer Frank Stephenson based on the original model, has been produced since 2000, when the German group took over the brand. And ten years later, in 2010, the Mini Countryman came onto the market, which is reminiscent of its ancestors but which abandons the very small format of those. So much so that it has a five-door body, something unthinkable for the first models.