Mini Cooper crushed in the name of the law

16 December, 2014

In a bid to crush the illegal trade of vehicles between the UK and the US, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been doing some crushing of their own.

The images doing the rounds online are of a Mini Cooper — illegally imported and unsafe — being crushed after it was seized by CBP.

The seizure was for what appears to be a fraudulent vehicle identification number (VIN), where the vehicle was manufactured in the 2000s, but sold as a 1988 model, which would have met the 25-year rule. In the US, vehicles over 25 years of age are exempt from EPA emissions standards and DOT safety ratings, but newer vehicles that do not comply must be brought to compliance, exported, or destroyed. Check out the destruction of the Mini Cooper below.

A fraudulent VIN is a pretty common occurrence, where the vehicle is represented on import entry documentation as being 25 years or older, but may be newer, illegally reconfigured, or even reconstructed from the parts of older vehicles.

Over the past year CBP has increased targeting and inspections of suspect imported vehicles, primarily Minis and Land Rover Defenders, as part of Operation Atlantic — a new trans-Atlantic partnership between US and UK regulatory and law enforcement officials. Following inspections of more than 500 vehicles, the operation has led to several criminal investigations in both countries.

We’re pretty fond of complaining about how difficult the import and VIN process is over in our corner of the globe, but somebody somewhere has always got it worse!

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.