Keith and Paul have always loved cars, and Keith has long had an affinity to Mini having once owned a Mini Moke. Once Max, our stretched Mini limousine, joined the Paladins family in 2016, we knew we just had to do the London to Brighton Mini Run so we could share the pleasure of the ‘Mini adventure’ with thousands of other like-minded car enthusiasts.
Our day started at 5am when we left Paladins Towers for London’s Crystal Palace. The journey on the quiet roads en-route harked back to the Mini’s heyday in the 1960s when perhaps the roads were a bit quieter, and an hour-and-half later we had arrived.
The festival atmosphere was infectious with hundreds of Minis dotted amongst hundreds of tents, meanwhile over a thousand Minis had started to queue in anticipation of leaving. This is one of the largest single-make car rallies in the world and 2,200 Minis had registered to take part.
We had a while to soak in the atmosphere and see Minis in all shapes and sizes. My personal favourite was a sherbert yellow Mini Riley Elf with its distinctive tail lights, immaculate paint and beautiful interior. Our stretched Mini was also getting a lot of interest before we left for the south coast.
We loved the journey and it was great to travel in convoy with so many different Minis; new, old, original, modified… the 1100cc engine on our stretched Mini meant we weren’t as fast as many of the Minis, but this meant we got to see lots of cars pass us on the M23.
We arrived in Brighton to be greeted by a dismayed marshall wondering how on earth our 17ft-long car was going to fit into the Show ‘n’ Shine area that we were booked into. After some frantic radio communication, a space was found for us, and we parked up for the day.
Our Mini was parked at the Palace Pier end of Madeira Drive as it was taking part in the Show ‘n’ Shine competition which meant Keith and Paul cleaning every nook and cranny in anticipation of one of the expert judges casting their eye over our car. We didn’t win, but the standard of other Minis was totally incredible, plus the judge did find a little bit of dirt where Keith and Paul didn’t! It was brilliant to see our Mini getting so much attention, though, both from Mini enthusiasts and the passing public.
There were thousands of Minis in Brighton in all shapes and sizes and not just from the UK, but France, the Netherlands and Belgium too. Along with our stretched Mini were ‘Shorties’, a shortened mini Mini, travellers (which, like our Morris Minor, have a timber frame), plus the actual Mini that starred in Mr. Bean with Rowan Atkinson driving from a sofa strapped to the roof.
This was the first time we had taken part in the Mini Run and definitely not the last. It was great to meet so many enthusiasts and such a spectacle to be a part of.