Jun 12, 2014
Born a MINIac.
“With my interest in design I didn’t want to have my MINI look like every other one on the road.” – Andrew Forbes, classic MINI owner and life-long MINIac.
Many MINIacs can remember loving MINI from an early age, but few can say they bought their own as a young teenager. MINI catches up with Andrew Forbes, an experienced young engineer from Aberdeenshire, Scotland to hear all about his 1991 classic MINI ‘Trig’, the car he has owned from the tender age of 13.
MINI (M): What first caught your eye about MINI?
Andrew Forbes (AF): What first caught my eye about MINI was actually my eyes! As a child I had to visit the hospital regarding my eyes a fair bit, and after one appointment my mum bought me a wind-back Monte Carlo MINI toy “for being so good with the doctors.” I was hooked from then!
M: When did you come to own a MINI you could drive?
AF: When I was 13 I had saved up a bit of money and with full support of my parents I went in search of my first car (to keep me occupied and under control during my teenage years I think!) Having always been into art and design and cars in general I decided to buy a full size version of the Monte Carlo MINI I had been given many years previously. We popped a cautionary eBay bid onto ‘Trig’ thinking we would be quickly outbid and left it at that. Upon checking back, we discovered we had won it! The problem was, it was 500 miles away in Birmingham and we had never laid eyes on it before! In hindsight it was stupid beyond belief, but now I look back and laugh.
M: 13 is indeed young to buy your first car – what did your parents say when you told them how you wanted to spend your savings?
AF: It was their idea I swear! I had saved up a decent amount of money for a 13 year old and when I had enough to buy a reasonable car they helped me look for one. It was to keep me occupied in the evenings and have something to put my money into, and to get me to learn how a car goes together and how things work. It’s been a real education over the years and having done a full nut-and-bolt rebuild I can tell you at a glance what bit goes where – right down to certain sized washers.
M: Beyond the early memory you had of classic MINI, what made you decide on one for your first car?
AF: I have always been very tall – I’m 6’7” – so really I don’t fit but it just adds to the fun of the MINI experience. I drove the car to get me to my final year at secondary school and university, and its frugal engine meant I could afford to use it as much as I liked. Nowadays I see Trig as being a toy to be used for fine days and holidays, and the occasional car show. It’s how I like to spend my free time really.
M: How did you choose Trig’s name?
AF: The name ‘Trig’ really could come from lots of elements of the car but I bought him at a time I was learning about Trigonometry at school and with the paint code of the car being COS I instantly related that to it as a joke. The name just stuck from there on. Ironically, I’ve never been that great at maths even though I work in engineering!
M: You said you’ve done a full nut-and-bolt rebuild of Trig. How have you made your car truly your own?
AF: Well with my interest in design I didn’t want to have my MINI look like every other one on the road. I wanted it to be a mix of retro and modern, whilst still being sympathetic to the MINI shape. So with that in mind I kept the original colour of Cranberry Red (a very rare colour because no-one bought it when metallic alternatives were in the showrooM at the time) and added heavy metallic Rover Quicksilver to the roof and bonnet stripes, just like the last run of Cooper 500 models.
I [also] decided to smooth the bonnet badge, relocated the filler neck inside the boot, smoothed off the boot lid and adopted internal hinges and lock/release mechanisM on it. I like my cars low and wide so genuine Rover sports pack arches and hugging full polished bare alloy 7x13 superlites were the order of the day, topped off with custom ‘Trig’ centres of course.
With the exterior pretty much nailed down, I opted for a mix of black vinyl and diamond stitch Alcantara for the door cards and rear seats, and a pair of buckets up front to hug me in the corners. The interior was made from scratch by my mum at home and I’d like to thank her for creating possibly the best feature on the car. With dashes of carbon fibre and chrome parts throughout, the cabin has got a very luxurious feel for being so compact.
M: Well done, mum! Was there a steep learning curve you had to climb during Trig’s restoration?
AF: I started off thinking it maybe needed a couple of panels and patches and a quick respray. That quickly turned into a body-off, nut-and-bolt restoration where half the car was cut off. At that point, seeing it sitting on a workshop floor, I was in two minds. Either I was going to keep going or cut my losses and scrap it and sell on the useable parts. An order of new panels soon sorted that dilemma out!
M: Thank goodness for that! What has been the greatest experience you’ve had with Trig since finishing the restoration?
AF: There have been so many over the years it’s hard to pick one. When I passed my driving test aged 17 in 2009 I was leaving school in the May. I wanted to mark the end of my school days with something fun and adventurous, so my dad and I set off on a John o’ Groats to Land’s End trip in the car. We completed the [874 mile] journey in 4 days and raised over £1000 for The Alzheimer’s Society in the process.
Andrew’s enthusiasm for classic cars didn’t stop with Trig’s restoration. In 2012 he teamed up with friend and fellow car enthusiast Greig Morrison to form The Retro Union a website dedicated to bringing together classic car owners in the North East of Scotland to share their common interest in beautiful vintage vehicles.