My father told me a story about his Mini once, which I've never quite thought true. If his tale is to be believed, it was an extremely well used Mini indeed. This was of course the old-fashioned Mini, no longer built by any one. In the Spring of 1969 he bought a white Mini Cooper from a hippy living near the King's Road. Said Mini owner claimed that he had driven the car all the way from Goa after 'finding himself' over several years.
Dad didn't believe that the little Mini could have made it so far, and having driven it round the block, decided that everything sounded in top condition - and subsequently that the hippy had perhaps been exaggerating a little and had never actually left his poky London bedsit. He bought the well used Mini.
The idea of such a journey, however, captured my dad's imagination and he started toying with the idea of going to visit his uncle who was living in Napoli at the time. And when he discovered sand in almost every nook and cranny of the car, he started to think that maybe the hippy had in fact made it from Goa in this tough little car.
So he packed up everything he would need and set out for Napoli. If the car had made it from India to England, he was sure that Napoli would be easy. He left Dover on the ferry and began making his way across Europe, through France. At least the car was getting used. Mini cars were known for their simplicity and so contained little that could go wrong.
Everything went fine until he woke up one morning in a lay-by near Avignon (he was travelling on the cheap) and started driving towards Italy. Out of the blue a lorry came directly towards him and he was forced off the road onto a grass verge, hitting a tree. The lorry driver shouted French obscenities and shock his arm as he drove off. Then he realised - he was on the wrong side of the road! My dad was physically ok, but the Mini had taken a knock or two.
Luckily the tree hadn't done any serious damage and my dad continued on the correct side of the road. He gorged on pizza and great coffee as he drove down the east coast of Italy. He then headed west at Pescara and he eventually he arrived in the thriving city of Napoli. He met his uncle, who was astonished he had made it to Italy in such a well used Mini. Used only to short trips, his uncle decided to celebrate this achievement and they went out for dinner. It was pizza again - but my dad was always fond of the four cheese pizza.
Naturally, they went out on the town and had a few beers to celebrate. When they returned to his uncle's apartment block that evening my dad was a little surprised to find his Mini still in one piece. He had heard stories about Napoli's crime problem from his uncle over the beers. On closer inspection though, my dad was horrified to find that the already misused Mini was missing some rather crucial parts. All four wheels were missing, and the car had carefully been bricked up by whichever light-fingered local had pinched his wheels.
My dad was angry and thought he would never get the car back to England. His uncle however, said there was many a scrap or used Mini around - and that getting more wheels wouldn't be a problem. It just goes to show how far you can get in a well used Mini!