Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown! Today is the third and final installment of my countdown to the Portland All-British Field Meet. We’ve got a couple of more modern British rides to look at today, but first, let’s see how yesterday’s voting turned out:
Lots of strong opinions on both sides of this one, but in the end, the Heartbeat of America in a Savile Row suit takes the win. Honestly, I could go either way on this one. They would both rile up the old guard at the show on Saturday, that’s for sure.
Speaking of which: Going to a car show is a good time, but you know what’s even better? Entering a car show. Walking the field and checking out the cars is so much more fulfilling when you can look over and see other people appreciating your ride at the same time. You’re part of the event, not just an attendee. Otherwise you’re like those people who go to the Renaissance Faire in normal street clothes when everyone else is in costume. Sure, it’s still fun, but you’re missing out on half of the experience.
To hopefully help save someone from feeling left out, I have found two British cars for sale right here in Portland that will get you through the gates at Portland International Raceway and into the rarefied company of British motorcar ownership. Both of them run and drive just fine. You could fly into town, buy one of these today, spend tomorrow detailing it and fixing a few things, and show up for day-of registration on Saturday morning. (If anyone is actually crazy enough to do this, please come find me at the show. I want to hear – and tell – your story.) Let’s see what we’re dealing with.
Engine/drivetrain: Supercharged 1.6 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, six-speed manual, FWD
Location: Clackamas, OR
Odometer reading: 161,000 miles
I’ve waited patiently for twenty years now for the new Mini to depreciate into my price range, and now that it has, I don’t need a car. And I know too much about them. Originally I thought, “Oh, it’s a BMW design; it will be nice and reliable compared to the old ones.” I have since had a 2000s BMW in my household, and I know better.
But the draw is still there. This is my kind of car: small, nimble, quick, and efficient. And from all reports, this is the model to get: the R53-chassis Cooper S, with a supercharged engine and six forward gears to play with. It’s still not Toyota-reliable, but its foibles are well-documented at this point, and not that hard to deal with. And I have to say, I love the color combination of this one.
This Mini has had a ton of work done recently, and the seller says it runs great. It also just passed its smog test, and has new registration, so no worries there. It does, however, have a rebuilt title for an undisclosed reason. That’s not an uncommon thing here in Oregon; insurance companies will total a car at the drop of a hat, and it’s not hard to get a salvage title once you repair the car. Take it to a different state, and you might have a little trouble, but that’s your own concern.
This car also has a serious aftermarket stereo, but unfortunately it eats up some of the meager cargo space. Me, I’d rather have the space; after all, carrying tools isn’t a terrible idea, and I’m not much of a subwoofer guy anyway. The stereo is only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.
Engine/drivetrain: 4.0 liter overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, full-time 4WD
Location: Portland, OR
Odometer reading: 177,000 miles
Runs/drives? Sure does!
Want something a little more off-roady? I’ve got you covered. Here we have a Series I Land Rover Discovery, baby brother to the Range Rover SUV, based on the same chassis but less fancy. It has the same full-time 4WD system and the same Buick-derived Rover V8, but without some of the fancy toys. It’s still better-appointed than the brutally utilitarian Defender, but not a Footballers’ Wives luxury ride that never leaves the pavement like the Range Rover.
This Discovery is part of what sounds like a large collection (or hoard, depending on your viewpoint) owned by an enthusiast who liked to convert US-spec Land Rovers to British turbodiesels and re-sell them at a profit. It’s a weird hobby, and an even weirder business model, but apparently it worked for a while until he woke up one morning and just got sick of the whole thing. Read the lengthy sales listing for the whole story. The short version is that this car still has its V8, it still runs just fine, and has no warning lights on the dash, which is saying something. Usually the dash on these things is lit up like the Vegas strip.
It wouldn’t be a British car without a few issues, though, of course. The radio is dead, and one window is off-track. But on a complicated beast like this, if that’s really all it needs, that’s not bad at all. Cosmetically it still looks good, both inside and out, and the green/tan combination is a classic. It is missing the front bumper, but the seller says he has it “somewhere.”
This is perfect for this year’s ABFM, too – the featured marque is Land Rover. They always have a good turnout anyway, but this year is sure to be big for the off-road crowd. You could even make up a story about how it lost the bumper. They’d love it.
It seems funny to consider eighteen and twenty-six year old vehicles as “modern,” but when they’re sharing show grounds with 100 year old cars, “modern” becomes relative. But they’re still part of the heritage, even though Mini is now German and Land Rover is Indian. They still belong. Either one is a valid ticket to the show. Which one are you taking?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)