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This Car’s a Kit Car…Too?

Tues., April 24, 2007 – Seeing the “Mini” kit car above reminded me of a practice that allowed the Mini’s UK-based parent company to avoid “the tax man,” if you will, when sending Minis to some foreign countries.

Hey, we were able to get Minis and an inference to the recent April 15 tax deadline into this one feature! (For our out-of-country readers, that’s the deadline for people in the U.S. to file/pay their taxes with the Infernal Revenue Service, oops, make that Internal…).

Alright, back to the topic. In many foreign countries, import taxes on motor vehicles were so high that automakers would send “CKD” cars into such countries, for assembly there, almost as if they were a “kit car.”

CKD, as it came to be known, meant “Completely Knocked Down.” The UK factory would send pretty much all the parts in crates, on pallets and in boxes and baskets to assembly plants in the other countries. Okay, not really baskets, as that would make them “basket cases,” meaning a project car that will likely never see the road again. Well, few will, at any rate.

Oops, off-topic again.

CKD Minis were sent to a variety of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa – even countries as close as Ireland – and perhaps dozens of others, I’m told. (Please fill me in if you know of others, or can tell me more).

Also, in some countries, a certain percentage of Mini parts had to be locally manufactured, which helps explain why things like “Australian” doors came to be. The so-called Australian doors are highly sought-after, because they are external-hinge Mk1-type doors but – instead of sliding windows – the windows are roll-ups and there’s a “wind wing” too. For some reason, in other countries, what we call a wind wing is called a “quarter light.” Don’t ask me why. Sorta like “boot,” “bonnet” and “hood” for what we call a trunk, a hood, and a convertible (ie: canvas or vinyl) top.

Anyway, the point is that real Minis did come as kit cars – of a sort.

Which also reminds me. It used to be said that – it you had enough money – you could pretty much make your own Mini using all new parts obtained from the factory. One could order bare body shells, doors, bootlids and bonnets, and pretty much all the other parts, even complete, ready-to-bolt-in assemblies such as rear subframes. The subframe assemblies typically would have all suspension parts, brakes, brake lines and drums fitted and were ready to roll. The complete body shells were available for purchase for many years, but that production halted some years ago. Many Mini folk are hoping that the new owners of the original tooling will begin to produce new shells again, particularly the Mk1 shells.

Wow! That must have great to get a brand-new original shell, even in the various Mini models. For example, I know of one brand-spanking-new Mini pickup body shell that someone has socked away for when it will be built up – someday…

By the way, there’s a ground-up, built-from-new-parts Mk3 Mini coming up for sale on our site soon. The expert Mini restorer/builder started with a genuine, factory-new crated shell, one of the last that were available for private purchase – and has the pics to prove it!

For more on CKD Minis, in this case, ones built in Australia, see the feature below dated April 8, “Australian Mini-Maker Meets MiniGuy.”