The world’s first ever Mini convertible was the idea of two men, David McMullan – sales manager at Lambretta Trojan of Croydon, and Jeffrey Smith from the research and development department at Lambretta Trojan. They formed a lifelong friendship and partnership, but from the very beginning both shared an idea to take the revolutionary new Mini and turn it into a convertible. New Mini’s were still hard to get in 1962, David and Jeffrey could only afford a three year old 1959 car to experiment on. This car was registered AFO 887, the project to convert it had to be carried out during moonlight hours as both partners needed their day jobs at Lambretta to survive. It was a busy time working at Lambretta all day, then on the mini in a lock-up at Stroud in Kent, in between finding time to visit David’s wife in hospital who was expecting their first baby. Several times David was reprimanded, by sister, for having oily hands and Mini parts on her ward and in his wife’s side room. Then, one night in August 1962 David’s first son Sean was born, but within minutes of the birth the two partners were on their way to Stroud where they drove their other baby, AFO 887 as a convertible, on the road for the very first time.

David and Jeffrey left Lambretta Trojan together and formed Crayford with a joint investment of £20 and a toolbox each. The first mini, then light blue, was launched to the national press on June 3rd in the Daily Mail motoring page. It was a success and very soon a network of dealers where taking orders, the price was set at £690 by dealers, including the new car, or £129 to convert a used car.

An early scoop came when MGM placed the new Crayford Mini Cooper in a black and white movie called “ Night must fall”, staring Susan Hampshire and Albert Finney who both drove the Crayford extensively in the move. When the film was released David’s wife sat through it 3 times in one afternoon.

Variations followed on Austin and Morris cars and later there was a clubman convertible. Early Mk.1 cars where completely open, with rear side windows that pulled out, like the Morgan’s. A sunshine conversion with fixed sides was also offered and there was a one-off open beach car with jeep like side, built for the MD of Bristol Street Motors, for use in his villa in Spain.

Today, these early Crayford mini’s are very rare, only 15 cars have been found and such is the demand that there are fake’s out there. Beware of any car with roll bars, hoops and or T bars. A top class Crayford Cooper can demand £20,000 insurance cover, and one Spanish owner spent £1 million peseta’s on his car.

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