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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!

Motorsport Flashback – Kiwi rallying in the 1970s

Rallying arrived in New Zealand in 1973 like a tsunami. It had been only a few years since the sport was introduced here and shortly afterwards Heatway came on board as the sponsor to take rallying to a new level. The 1973 Heatway would be the longest and biggest yet, running in both islands with 120 drivers over eight days and covering some 5400 kilometres. The winner was 31-year-old Hannu Mikkola — a genuine Flying Finn who had been rallying since 1963 before putting any thoughts of a career on hold until he completed an economics degree. The likeable Finn became an instant hero to many attracted to this new motor sport thing. I was one of them.

Think of it as a four-door Cooper

New Zealand Mini Owners Club coordinator Josh Kelly of Dunedin loves his Minis. It’s a family affair. Julie and Mike, Josh’s mum and dad, are just as keen, and they can usually all be found taking part in the club’s annual ‘Goodbye, Pork Pie’ charity run from the North of the country to the South.
But lately Josh’s young head has been turned by some other revolutionary BMC cars. He has picked up a couple of Austin and Morris 1100 and 1300s, which he started to restore — that was until an opportunity arose to buy a rare example stored in a shed.