Actress Juley Ross from Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, loves to make an entrance and when she does she does it in style in her fun and fabulous classic 1981 Mini.
Mother-of-four Juley acquired the “Little Min” 28 years ago from a “Mr Jackson” who lived near Brighton. He only bought it because it had a JAX-prefixed number plate. He already had four other cars with JAX plates and he wanted another matching registration.
Once he had secured the registration the Mini was mothballed in his garage and didn’t turn a wheel for five years before Juley heard about it and came to take it off his hands.
1981 model is seventh Mini Juley Ross has owned
Juley loves Minis. She has owned seven of them, her first being a red Woodie in 1976, but she is not a classic car “nut”. She does, however, admit to being “mad as a bucket of frogs”.
The little Min, an Austin Mini Mark IV, was first registered in January 1981, and Juley has original documentation showing two previous owners. She also has MOTs and a heap of invoices for renovations and repairs.
She explained: “It’s had a lot of work done since I bought the car, both mechanical and bodywork including both wings being replaced because they were badly rusted.
“I’ve moved home a lot so it’s been in a variety of garages. Most recently AutoWise Bexhill who are basic dealers, but two of the chaps are very experienced Mini enthusiasts so they’ve looked after me and Little Min very well.
“She’s is pretty much standard. Even the colour, silver, is as it was when it was manufactured.
“I have a tin of specially matched paint in case I have a little scrape. Oddly it’s called gold but Little Min and the touch-up paint is definitely silver.
“The only modern adaption I had fitted five years ago. It’s a cigarette lighter to put my phone charger in.”
Classic Mini is well known at jumble sales in East Sussex
The Mini is a daily runaround which spends time touring jumble sales in East Sussex with the occasional trip to London and sometimes the 200 mile – exactly – door to door trip to her Mum’s in Norfolk.
Juley explained: “Sadly the Little Min doesn’t hold a lot but my husband has a really good large estate which takes us, our bikes and tons of food and clothes on our frequent holidays all over Britain.
“I used to travel miles on a Saturday with my friend Doreen to jumble sales. Once she bought a 5ft stuffed rabbit which only just fitted in the back. We had to stop to turn the rabbit up the right way so it could see out.
“Little Min is well known in jumble circles in East Sussex!”
Juley added: “I don’t spend much time working on the car myself.
“When I have some money to spare she goes in the garage where my trusty chaps do their magic, keep her roadworthy and running like a dream.
“Though I do like to spend a few hours tarting her up, washing, polishing and vacuuming, when it’s needed.”
Little Min has chalked up just 650 miles a year for 37 years
Having sat for five years unused the mileage was very low when Juley bought the car and it’s still only on 24,000 – which works out at a measly 650 miles a year.
Though she runs perfectly Little Min is never pushed because, as Juley explains “she’s an old gal, just like me. The same rules apply for both of us!”
Juley feels at one with Little Min and joked: “I am short, fat and old – so little Min is the perfect size for me.
“You can see all the car’s corners making it a cinch to park, first time, with inches to spare. It goes like a dream and beats modern cars every time up hills due to its incredible power to weight ratio.
“My friend Pat often travels with me and says ‘those guys looked at us or those drivers waved to us’. I have to remind her they are not admiring us, but Little Min.”
Adrian Flux invited Little Min to lead Brands Hatch parade
Two years ago Juley was selected by Adrian Flux, which provides specialist insurance cover for classic and BMW Mini owners, to be Parade Leader at Brands Hatch during a special weekend of celebration featuring more than 300 classic Minis.
Juley explained: “It was a fabulous event and I had all my family there. I was invited in all the priority tents, led the parade in Little Min and had three great days.
“I also showed Little Min a couple of times at Bexhill 100, but sadly that event is no longer held.”
Juley is an actress and Little Min starred in the Sing Your Heart Out advert filmed on a low loader in Brighton in 2016.
Her last few roles have been as a Granny with Alzheimer’s – “type-casting, so unfair” she says.
But it’s not all serious. She’s played a hip-hop granny in another advert and has just finished filming Swimming with Men starring, Rob Brydon.
Juley was recently offered £7,000 for Little Min – far, far more than she paid for her originally – but would she sell? “Not on your Nellie! I think I’ll be buried with her!” she enthused.
But if money were no object what car would Juley buy? “I’d have a proper Mini every time – not one with 15-inch wheels but original 10-inch wheels.”
She argues: “Minis are the best cars by far. They have a fun appeal like nothing else on the road.
“In a previous Mini I used to cart my four children, the dog, and the pushchair around everywhere. It was great fun.”
‘Fire left me gutted, and so was the car”
“Thankfully I have never pranged, bent or damaged any of my Minis.”
“I did have a bit of a disaster in a black Mini which I owned before this one though. It went up in flames on Christmas Eve. It had all my Christmas vegetables and presents in the boot.
“I was gutted, and so was the car. Even the headlining melted and the Fire Brigade left six inches of water inside her. I cried for days.”
Fortunately, the tears are few and far between. If you come across Juley on the roads of East Sussex you’re sure to recognise her because she will be the one driving the lovely Little Min and she’ll have a great big smile on her face.