GOING for a ride in a police car isn’t everyone’s idea of fun.

But for classic car enthusiast Basil Webb, who has been spotted cruising around in a police Mini that looks to have come straight out of the 1970s, it’s just one part of a life-long love affair with a specific type of motor.

Where some lovers of the classic Mini might stop at buying one, ‘Baz’, 78, has devoted much of his life to restoring and collecting the cars in all their shapes and sizes.

The police car - a 1978 Leyland Mini 850 that had served in the streets of Manchester - is still ticking along, right down to its working blues and twos.

“I’ve done hundreds of classic car shows,” said Baz, of Dodworth Road. “My first ever one was Silverstone on my 50th birthday, and I realised there was a future in classic Minis then.

In Text Promo Image

“I’ve still got the same passion as when I got in that first one. I won second prize for the oldest mini in Barnsley in a competition run by the Chronicle, but I technically should’ve won as the bloke who said he had the oldest was from Clayton West in Kirklees.”

Baz maintains a collection of the classic vehicles from a garage just outside Barnsley town centre alongside fellow enthusiast Jonathan Guise-Smith, 45.

He also undertakes restoration projects, working on everything from paintwork to engines and electrics.

And while he looks after some of the cars for an American enthusiast, others Baz owns - including a 1962 Morris Mini Minor that he’s sat in the back of during many a family holiday.

“All my life we’ve had Minis,” said Baz. “I’ve driven other cars, but I don’t fancy buying trouble.

“The ‘62 is my baby. My mum and dad bought it new. We used to go to Wales on holiday every year with the roof rack on and then when my dad finished driving I took it over.

“Somebody pinched it once and we’d been on and off the phone to the insurance company for ages when out of the blue, the police called and asked ‘is this your Mini?’ And it had ended up in a car park in Durkar where it had been for six weeks, with no damage on it at all.

“It’s done a lot of work but I had to keep maintaining it. I just keep going and taking it one day at a time.”

In the process, Baz says he’s spent thousands of pounds to keep the car - and several others, including a couple of Austin Minis all the way up to a 1998 Mini Cooper - in immaculate condition and full working order.

“You used to just weld another floor on top of the other one in the old days, but you can’t get away with that now,” Baz quipped.

Jonathan, of Park Road, said he chanced upon Baz’s collection during his rounds as a postman, and the pair have since formed a friendship built on shared admiration.

“I saw he had three Minis parked in front of his house,” Jonathan said.

“I had to investigate, because I also had three Minis in front of my house.

“My granddad always had a Mini and since I could walk I’ve loved them. The only better design than the Mini is the Spitfire, in my opinion. You don’t see many of them around now, but the ones that lived on are like these, still going strong.”

As well as working in the garage, where he currently has two projects on the go, Baz runs the Dodworth Classic Mini Club and still takes his motors to classic car shows around the country.

He also uses his expertise - Jonathan says Baz can diagnose any fault, no matter how small - to work in a part-time role as an advisor at a local Mini centre. And as the Mini celebrates its 60th birthday this year, there is clearly a reason the little car has stood the test of time while many of its competitors have fallen by the wayside - and why Baz is so keen to preserve the 57-year-old Morris that he’s grown old with.