I have especially fond memories of Minis. I grew up buying every Mini magazine I could get my hands on, and was luckily enough to have two of them before I could legally drive. They were father-and-son projects until I was bitten by the BMW bug before I could finish them. I sometimes regret getting rid of them when I come across one as cool as Ryan Smith’s 1992 example.
Finding out we were not too far from each other, Ryan and I managed to get together one afternoon.
Imagine yourself in grade school: you’re in your chair, and your desk it attached, and perhaps your feet are stuffed into the basket under your seat. You hear the creaking squeaking from down the hall, and then through the door comes a substitute teacher. In tow, she has the tall black rolling cart, and perched atop it is a CRT TV with a built-in VCR. You know immediately that it is bound to be the best day of the week, because instead of working, it’s movie time.
Roadtrips are an essential part of the automotive experience as a whole. Dare I say, long-distance driving in a vintage, break-down-prone car is a rite of passage, and one I insist upon in any enthusiast’s case. Every year, our friends of Journeymen from Cape Town, South Africa, take to the back roads with their latest projects, highlighting both the highlights and the tribulations of such an endeavor.
I first discovered the car while mindlessly wandering through the internet, pounding in Mini-related search queries in a never-ending hunger for Mini photos for my archives. The little yellow Mini seemed to sit a little bit lower than the rest, and a local SoCal shop name was emblazoned on the windshield, but for years the car remained a mystery.
Behind the tinted glass of the Frank Monise Motors lobby, there are some not-so-subtle hints that ‘Monise’ (pronounced moe-neece) is not your average shop. For starters, the walls are lined with photos, some recent, and others older than the business itself, which began here in Southern California back in 1948. Vintage race posters featuring a number of Monise race cars fill in the extra space, and a number of trophies sit perched on shelves.