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Me and My Bond Minicar

Nick's Bond Minicar

Back in 1988, Muddles took over the scrap yard at Adversane, where cars had been slowly decaying for twenty years.The re-opening was a big event for classic car enthusiasts, particularly those in the business of restoration, with Austin 7s, Morris 8s and pre war Daimlers amongst the more sought after cars by collectors.

But Nick Mander was after something a little less desirable; a Bond Minicar. On his third trip to the yard Nick found what he was looking for, a 1955 Mark C Bond Minicar. There was no engine, no bonnet, and another car had been sat on top of it for two decades, yet it still cost Nick £60 to take it away from the scrap yard, due to the high value of the number plate, OCG 7.

With the car having been lovingly restored, you can now see Nick driving the car from his home in Ashington to shows all over the country. Nick said: “Muddles was swarming when it opened - they charged people a couple of quid just to go in and have a look. I found this car right down the bottom of the yard on my third visit. The car survived because the bodywork is made of aluminium, which stood the test of time. I had to take a spade with me to dig it out.

“Most of the money I paid for it was down to the number plate, but we were lucky to keep hold of that number. When we found the car it still had two tax discs on the windscreen from 1963 and 1964, bought from Billingshurst post office, so somebody there must have owned the car and chucked it out.”

The Mark C Bond was built from 1952 to 1956 and saw the company adopt a new body style to go with the 197cc engine that was introduced for the Mark B. Like earlier Bond cars, the Mark C has no reverse gear, but the steering lock allows the engine to turn through 90 degrees. Nonetheless, Nick still has to always find a car park space he can drive straight in and out of!

The Mark C era proved to be Bond’s best years, with production rising to 100 cars per week in 1955 and a total of 14,000 produced by 1956. It was all downhill though after the arrival of the superior Mini in 1959. Bond survived until 1970 when it was taken over by Reliant, who used the name for a few years until the Bond name disappeared for good in 1974.

Back then, few would have predicted that Bond cars would one day become a head turner, but the Owners Club has over 300 members from all over the world. Nick’s car always attracts plenty of interest from fellow enthusiasts and former owners, but it took many years and hundreds of man hours to get the car on the road.

Much of the credit goes to a friend of Nick’s from the Bond club, Rex Grogan, who was presented with the wreck from Muddles after expressing the need for a challenging restoration! Rex, of Acocks Green in Birmingham, masterminded the restoration project, enlisting the help of Ron Page, whose incredible aluminium skills restored the body and wings.

Rex  sourced the many parts needed to assemble the car and prepared it for the re-spray. The car was painted in its original colour, seen when the rear number plate was removed to reveal a shade of brown! The car was on the road by 1996, but Nick only got his hands back on the car two years ago. Not that he had been living his life without Bonds - he has a garage full of them. Or at least bits of them!

Nick has an extremely rare example of the Mark A, the 48th Bond Car ever made, as well as what is thought to be the only remaining example of the Bond Mark B van, of which only 28 were ever made. It was found under some tarpaulin in a garden after the 1987 hurricane. Incredibly, he even has the car that started the obsession - his very first car, bought when he was 16 years old.

Nick said: “When I turned 16 I wanted to buy a Lambretta, but my parents didn’t like the idea of me riding around. I couldn’t wait until I was 17 to buy a car, as it seems forever away at that age, so I went to the post office where they gave me a list of all the things I can ride or drive at 16. The Bond Minicar was on the list, as three wheelers were classed as motorbikes. “My Nan bought it for me for £20 and I never did pay her back!”

Nick hopes to get that car on the road at some point, although he admits he may have to bow to pressure and get the Mark B van on the road first. But for now he just enjoys driving his Mark C, even taking it on tour to Lake Garda with two other Bonds.

He said: “I like the two stroke engine - I feel 16 again every time I drive it - I remember that smell from my first drive. I get some admiring glances too - people love to see an old car and the Bond triggers memories for many people as it was transport for the ordinary man.”

If you know anything about the history of this car please email the AAH editor Ben Morris at editor@aahorsham.co.uk

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