In 1959 a small car was launched in Britain under the remarkable design concept of Alec Issigonis. The original model, introduced to the world as the economic ‘Morris Mini Minor’, sparked critical acclaim in automotive design with a transverse engine and an unconventional front wheel layout, which made for exceptionally modest dimensions. It would be a contemporary combination of quirky design features and character, which would establish the Mini as a bold icon of British Culture.
Less than a year after the debut of the first Mini, Brian Harper awaited the delivery of a Mini 850s straight off the production line at BMC, Longridge – just seven years later Mini Sport was founded. Through a love of the car and a passion for the people that surround the Mini Lifestyle, Mini Sport have been able to channel their admiration in becoming the World’s leading supplier of Mini Parts. Specialising in Classic Minis with recognised expertise in restoration and conversions, we operate on a passion to keep the Mini faith alive and ensure that the car stays on the road for years to come.
Our latest feature will focus on the people that share our views and dedicate themselves to keeping the Mini alive. Mini Clubs are responsible for retaining the same excitement and passion for the car 56 years after the Mini’s debut, maintaining the same sense of community as when Brian Harper founded Mini Sport back in ’67.
To launch our series we got in touch with ‘Northern Monkeys Mini Club’ who launched their club a few years back. Lee Morrison and Julie Clarke began Northern Monkeys with the humble idea to ‘share their love of the Mini and everything it stands for!’ with other Mini drivers, after they discovered that there was no other clubs active around their local area.
The ‘Northern Monkeys’ now have over 60 members on their Facebook group with a committed circle of enthusiasts who attend their regular monthly meets. They use their group and meets to share photos, advice and exchange general chat – all surrounding their Minis! We spoke with Lee Morrison one of the founders who explained that ‘We started the Facebook group as a way of informing people of events and as a forum for advice or bits and pieces people want to sell. We all enjoy getting together and having a chat about what’s been going wrong with our cars and we find that it’s a good way to get helpful advice for those who are a little less experienced.’
Both Lee and Julie have used the popularity of their club to organise a range of events and drive a little old-fashioned fundraising into their passion. Lee told us ‘We organised a Mini run and quiz in aid of the ‘Movember’ charity to raise awareness and money for Men’s health, which we called the ‘Mo’s and Mini Run’. To enter all cars had to have giant moustaches on the grill and prizes were given for the best moustache.’ Their run was picked up and featured in Mini Magazine, gaining them additional recognition for their great work. Lee and Julie hope to organise another charity event in the near future.
The ‘Northern Monkeys’ often venture outside of Bolton to liaise with other Clubs across the country. Attending the annual run up to Blackpool Illuminations, filling their summers with drives around country roads for events and camping weekends. The club hosts an eclectic range of Mini’s including Mini City E’s, a Mini 1000 (1979), a Sprite, a Checkmate and a Clubman Estate to name a few. It’s brilliant to see a mixed demographic of people, brought together from a passion for the Mini. Lee continues: ‘As we have a range of ages who are in the club and different tastes, all the cars are different and are in a different state of completion. From the classic restorations to more modified cars.’
Lee finishes ‘We have been surprised at how many people want to join our group as it only started with two people…we’ve made some really good friends’ Without doubt, Northern Monkeys encompass everything that we love, enjoy and appreciate at Mini Sport. An enthusiastic group of people who have bonded over the car we all love and shared priceless advice, which helps with every repair and restoration project – effectively keeping the Mini alive and kicking!
If you’re looking for a Mini Club around Bolton, get in touch with Northern Monkeys Mini Club on their Facebook group here or alternatively get down to one of their meets hosted on the last Tuesday of every month at 7:30pm at the Rivington Grill, Blackrod, Bolton.
Currently the ‘Northern Monkeys’ are prepping for Morecambe Bay Mini Club’s ‘Mini on the Bay’, a weekend camping event, which will help raise valuable funds for Help For Heroes. 15th – 17th May 2015.