Last weekend, the Mini Sport team made it down to Staffordshire for the prestigious Himley Hall & Park event, hosted by the British Mini Club. Thankfully, this year’s annual event brought out a bit of the old-English sunshine, which made for an excellent change. We managed to set up camp with the help from our USA representative, Mike Guido and the iconic Mini Legend, Paddy Hopkirk. Himley Hall was the first stop on Mike’s European tour as he makes his way (by Mini) to IMM 2015 in Lithuania – you can follow Mike’s Mini travels here!
We were very proud to once more, welcome Paddy Hopkirk as a guest at our stand. Paddy was able to meet & greet fans all day as well as promote his own brand of classically inspired Mini parts and accessories for ‘Paddy Hopkirk Mini’.
However, this year we welcomed a family of Mini Sports most loyal and enthusiastic customers, John Connor, his son James and his wife Kim for an extra-special unveiling of a very exclusive and priceless piece of memorabilia…
John and Kim bought their son James a Mini Mayfair when he was 18 back in 2011. Since then, the family has been committed to the Mini scene, becoming avid collectors of Paddy Hopkirk merchandise and parts. Their extensive collection even includes bespoke pieces and rare memorabilia dedicated to the Mini Legend.
James’s Mini, who John claims has ‘no Mayfair left on it now’ has been beautifully restored by John and James and modified to pay homage to the great Paddy Hopkirk. Paddy’s signatures have been embroidered into the headrests, it has a limited edition anniversary Paddy Hopkirk steering wheel, the boot-board liner has been specially manufactured with red and white vinyl to represent the characteristics of 33EJB and the entire engine bay has been flawlessly finished with specialist Paddy Hopkirk parts. In every other way, the car in itself boasts the kind of charm we all appreciate in a classic Mini, with twin tanks and an original black leather interior with cream piping and a walnut dash.
The car has become so close to the family that John even sold his Porsche to invest more time and money into this exquisite car; which came third in the Premiere class at Stoneleigh, Mini Fair – ‘I like to think that if Austin, Morris or Rover did a Paddy Hopkirk Mini, this would be what it looked like’ John beamed when I contacted him earlier this week. However, over a year ago surrounding Paddy Hopkirk’s 50th Anniversary Gala John arranged to buy a commission painting from a very talented, young artist named Bex. Bex of ArtbyBex who specialises in paintings of iconic and classic cars, had met John, Kim and Paddy Hopkirk at Mini Fair 2 a few years back and John jumped at the chance to own an exclusive painting when she decided to paint a one-of-a-kind painting of Paddy Hopkirk winning the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally.
Bex of Artbybex got in touch with Chris Harper of Mini Sport regarding this painting and Chris helped derive a plan, which would mean that the painting would be signed and handed over to the Connors by the man himself, Paddy Hopkirk at Himley Hall.
So last Sunday after having their ‘Paddy Hopkirk Mini’, judged in show, Paddy Hopkirk and Bex made their way over to see John and James. ‘I didn’t know what Bex had sorted with Chris and I couldn’t believe it!’ John told me. John had previously met Paddy Hopkirk at another event but at that time the Mini wasn’t as close to completion and held just a fraction of the bespoke parts that it does now. Paddy Hopkirk presented James with the signed painting besides his car with both Bex and John, before taking a look around the car, which was so respectfully dedicated to him.
‘He was well impressed, he couldn’t believe it’ John told us. ‘I feel honored that you have done all this…I’d love BMW to know about this car!’ Paddy exclaimed when exploring the fine details of the Mini. After enthusing over the brilliance of this Mini for sometime, Paddy made it ‘official’ and signed the roof of the car just above the driving seat – a fantastic stamp of authenticity from the Mini Legend himself. Priceless!
After speaking to John following the event, he told me that ‘It was great to have this great man say the things he said to James and I and that moment will stay with us forever with the help of Mini Sport and especially Chris Harper who I cannot thank enough for making this happen. I have said it before and I will say it again, Paddy you are one top gent!’
We were so happy to be involved in such a great celebration of Paddy Hopkirk and see John and James show off their hardwork and dedication to the man who inspired them all along. John donates a lot to the work done by Paddy Hopkirk’s own charity ‘Skidz‘, which helps provide Motor Vehicle education to those at risk of unemployment – a well appreciated token of Thanks.
You can see John and James and their ‘Paddy Hopkirk Mini’ at Mini World Live 2015, which will take place in Rockingham on the 5th July. Plus! Keep an eye out for this special Mini in an upcoming Mini World issue…
We’d like to thank everyone that paid the Paddy Hopkirk and Mini Sport stand a visit at Himley and we look forward to seeing you again throughout the rest of the show season.