The Mighty Little Mini: Ricky Ngo’s 1962 Austin Mini Truck

We all remember our coming of age story; that inner voice guiding us at a young age and trying to make sense of this very confusing world. Everything was new and exciting, and of course, those moments eventually shape who we become. For many boys growing up during the ’80s and ’90s, Nintendo, MTV, and GT bikes were key brands in our lives. Still, at some point, we all became car guys, and brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche became the poster child for our dreams. However, not all dreams are made up of exotic retro stardoms but instead, a humble little car massed produced in England.

Ricky Ngo still remembers when he first laid his eyes on a Classic Mini Saloon. He was just 16 years old and attending a Super Autobacs car event where his older brother worked. At that moment, Ricky knew that was the vehicle for him, and his obsession only grew to new heights the more he dove into it. It wasn’t until he was months into this new fascination that he realized Mini had produced a pickup truck as part of their commercial vehicle line. With just over 58,000 units produced, the trucks amounted to only one percent of all Minis ever created.

Still sporting the exterior door hinges and pressed front grill throughout the 22 years of its production, the truck had many of the things he loved about the regular Minis of that era. This truck was produced as a workhorse for tradespeople in small rural areas of Europe until it ended up stateside.

For over a decade, Ricky dreamed of having that Mini pickup, but he was a young student and had no money to buy one, so the dream was always eluding him. Whenever he found himself telling people that his dream car was a Classic Mini pickup, he was always asked why he would even want something like that. This was at a time where the Classic Minis were just making their way into the US car culture. Dreaming of a car like that was a bit out of place, but Ricky didn’t let that deter him from getting into what made him happy.

Somewhere around 14 years after he first laid eyes on the Classic Mini, Ricky finally has the chance to obtain his dream. He gets a call from his buddy in Texas, saying that he saw a Classic Mini pickup at a dealership. The next piece of this story involves Ricky and his wife flying over to Texas for a look-see. Once they arrive, it is a wrap, and it is put on a transport on its way home to California. The dream was now in his possession, and he was ready for the real fun.

When it finally arrived, Ricky enjoyed the car for a bit before looking into finding parts. Taking the vehicle into a direction where he would be satisfied with its setup was soon to follow. Lucky for Ricky, the previous owners took such great care of the car that fundamental vintage car issues like fixing rust weren’t needed. This good fortune made it super manageable for him to start modding without contending any other problems first. The car was not perfect by any means, but it was the perfect platform for Ricky to handle.

One of the first things Ricky addressed was the suspension and wheels. Every car or truck needs to be sitting just right on the perfect set of wheels. When Ricky found 10-inch SSR wheels back in Japan, he snatched them up right then and there. Now, when you see a set of 10-inch wheels on a car, you will trip out just like I did. That is smaller than a grade school ruler and looks even smaller when you actually see it in person. I am sure finding tires for this car was no easy feat. Wrapped in Japanese market Yokohama Advan tires, Ricky kept the wheels in proper JDM balance. The Classic Mini was then lowered on RED coil springs with the Hi-Low kit, and he got it sitting just right.

The current motor is a 998cc with a stage one kit and is pushing out a whopping 47 horsepower! In terms of upgrades, it has a HIF38 carb, LCB headers, and RC40 exhaust. Ricky says that with the truck weighing in at 1500 pounds, it handles like a go-kart and keeps him grinning ear to ear. To combat all that power, the Classic Mini Truck has upgraded Cooper S 7.5-inch disc brakes in the front with drums in the rear to aid slowing it down.

Now you may be asking yourself if this truck is functional or if it’s just a show truck? The answer is both! You see, you will often find Ricky and his Classic Mini at Home Depot hauling lumber for his business or at a local car meet or show on the weekends. I guess that duality is what made Ricky fall more in love with the Classic year after year. He loves the attention it gets when all different people, from young to old, come up to him and want to take a photo or ask him about the truck’s history.

“This truck brings people together in a really amazing way, and the way the community is always open to sharing their experiences and stories just makes me so happy,” says Ricky.

Since this is Ricky’s forever car, his hope is to continue to swap out every bit of failing wire, rubber, and gasket that needs to be replaced.

“There are 60 years of history with this truck, and I want to experience every bit of it,” Ricky says.

There are so many parts he keeps finding on the internet, which add to the truck’s character. Ricky states there is possibly a place for a B series Honda engine in the future. For now, the stock engine can pull 600 pounds, and it does everything he needs it to, so his main objective is to keep enjoying it.

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