Thursday, 6 November 2014

Arthur owned that Status Minipower

It's really nice to get in touch with people who have found these pages through searching for more information about a car they used to own. One of them is Arthur Bills, who came here looking for all things Status Minipower related. Arthur owned one of these great little cars in the 1980s. In fact it was this car, at one time owned by this man.

Arthur wrote: "Hi Jeroen, These photo's do not answer the question as to the current location of the car because they were taken in 1984, when I owned it. The owner before me was a Chinese student who abandoned the car and went to live in Singapore. It was parked in the front garden of his landladies house and was in poor condition, missing its cylinder head, radiator, manifolds, carb and exhaust system. There was a small amount of damage but it had not been vandalised. The cylinder bores had rust damage so I fitted a complete engine from a donor car (1275 Austin), single 1 1/2 SU on an inlet manifold made by sawing the exhaust half off a standard BL cast iron manifold and welding a water pipe to it. I fitted a 3-into-1 exhaust manifold and an exhaust system bolted up with parts from the local repair shop, as I could not find a local Status dealer! The radiator was replaced with the one from the donor car and I had to replace steering column lock and ignition switch because the key had gone missing. Triumph Herald steering column if I remember correctly. A few other minor repairs had to be done mainly because it had been parked outside exposed to the weather for so long."

"The Status was my daily drive for more than 3 years and the only problem I can remember was excessive play in an inboard wishbone bush discovered at an MOT test. These tests usually consisted of 10 minutes checking brakes lights, steering etc, followed by the mechanic taking it for a 30 minute test drive! Punctures could have been a big problem - no spare wheel - but I only ever had one and that was conveniently across the street from a tyre depot. Driving the car was amazing even with a 1275 engine acceleration was very good and the faster you drove around corners, curves roundabouts etc the happier the car felt and the drivers smile got bigger. Car park barriers and similar obstructions did not stop you as the car was so low it was easy to drive underneath them. One disadvantage was the amount of attention you got from almost everyone. A 15 minute trip could take twice as long because somebody wanted to look at the car and talk to you about it. Once I escaped a well deserved ticket when 2 policemen spent so much time checking out the Status and talking to me, that they just let me go without even a caution."

"The last time I saw the car was approximately in 1993 looking as it does in the other photographs. I have many happy memories of the Status and would like to thank Brian Luff and Nigel Harper for designing and building such a wonderful car. I have had many cars over the years and the Status is one of the few that I wish still belonged to me, writing this article has bought back many memories of the good times I had with the Status."

That's a great story Arthur, thanks a lot for sharing it here. The pictures have now also confirmed the car's registration number 'HON 893N' and I am happy to tell the DVLA still recognizes the number as a green Status. It's been off the road since 1985, or so it seems, but chances are its still out there. The hunt goes on.

UPDATE 16 December 2020: The car survives. More here.

Arthur with the Status Minipower at Stoneleigh in '84. He used it as a daily driver for 3 years
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

Only 8 out of 20 Minipower chassis were sold with the purpose made body
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

Designer Luff said that this is how the Lotus 7 S4 should have looked like
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

This particular car was built up by Nigel Harper and later owned by a Chinese student
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

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