Jul 012014

203955409_tpHere is the ultimate low mileage used car a 25-year-old limited edition Mini that has not been registered since the day it rolled off the production line in Longbridge, Birmingham. There is some debate over whether this is actually a ‘used’ car, but anyway it is now up for sale. This car has been in storage since 1989 and has just 13 miles on its clock.

This Mini was one of a pair bought brand new by a Cheshire farmer as a present to give to his sons when they turned 21. However, the boys were too tall to fit into the cars when they came of age in 2009, so the Minis were sold to the British Mini Club instead. One was raffled off three years ago, but the other is to be offered for private sale for £19,000.

Launched to mark the Mini’s 30th birthday. Not only was this a pretty decent limited edition in terms of presentation and equipment, it also represented a watershed in modern Mini development, providing the basis for the imminent relaunch of the Mini Cooper.

Based on the Mayfair the effort put into the two pearlescent paint colours, red and black was the most immediately striking feature and given extra sheen by a coat of lacquer. The logo was actually more of a crest, with elements of the old Austin marque crossed with rampant British lions and the legend 1959-1989 running beneath it. A feature of the bonnet badge the crest was also applied to the rear side panels with twin coachlines leading from them. The door mirrors and wheelarches were colour matched, but the most welcome retro element was the increase in brightwork, as the grille, door handles and bumpers shone brightly again. Best of all the car sat on eight spoke Minilite-type alloys. As usual the interior had seat logos, but there was a real touch of luxury about the black leather seat bolster, red piping, red leather steering with a logo on the boss and red pile carpet. Not only that, there was a leather bound Mini book waiting for every buyer too.

Only Three Thousand Mini Thirtys were made, 2000 of these in Pearlescent Cherry Red, and 1000 in Rich Black.

Jul 012014


The maximum cost of an hour of a garage mechanic’s time has reached an unprecedented new high of £215, according to Warranty Direct’s annual labour rates study. Overall, the UK’s average labour rate, for main dealer and non-franchised workshops combined, stands at £74.33. Data from more than 10,000 cases was analysed.

Of the 67 counties included in the study, London is the most expensive place to fix a car, at an average £91.99 an hour (franchised and non-franchised garages combined).

The highest individual hourly garage labour rate can also be found in the Capital. One franchised workshop in West London was found to be charging £215 an hour, the highest rate ever recorded by Warranty Direct in the 11 years of the study. Two other garages were billing at more than £200 an hour.

The South East dominated the top 10 dearest regions, with Surrey and Middlesex taking second and third positions. Only South Glamorgan in Wales – a county which includes the city of Cardiff – was not a region surrounding London.

The North of England and Scotland made up the majority of the least expensive places to fix your car, with County Antrim in Northern Ireland and Cornwall in the South West completing the most frugal 10.

Top 10 most expensive regions for garage labour rates (franchised and non-franchised combined)










South Glamorgan


















West Sussex




Top 10 least expensive regions for garage labour rates (franchised and non-franchised combined)




East Lothian



County Durham









North Yorkshire



County Antrim



South Yorkshire










The biggest risers and fallers were Cleveland in the North East, where average bills were up 15% year-on-year and Warwickshire, which saw rates drop by 10%. The average price change across the country was a 0.29% increase.

The price gap between franchised and non-franchised was also evaluated. In this year’s study, the average main dealer hourly rate (£92.11) was 44.9% more than the average non-franchised rate (£63.56).

In 2006, franchised premises were 83% dearer than non-franchised, meaning that the price gap between main dealers and independent garages has closed up by almost 40% over eight years. This is largely due to an increase in the average rate at independent premises, up from £49.61 in 2006 to £63.56 an hour to 2014, whilst main dealers have remained more steady, increasing from £91.07 to £92.11 over the same period.

Price difference between non-franchised & franchised (2006-2014)

2006 +83.57%
2007 +78.91%
2008 +70.23%
2009 +60.71%
2010 +62.06%
2011 +57.93%
2012 +48.56%
2013 +44.22%
2014 +44.9%


“The shrinking price difference between main dealers and non-franchised workshops could be due to the increasing popularity of dearer fast-fits and auto centres that seem to be taking business away from less expensive independents, as well as the advent of manufacturer schemes that offer discounts for older cars and help keep the overall franchised rate down.”Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans, said; “While labour rates remain fairly steady, London continues to set new benchmarks for the cost of getting car repairs, with a jaw-dropping rate from one garage that would have many motorists rubbing their eyes in disbelief.