A LIFELONG LOVE FOR MINI.
In 1963 in Hong Kong, cars were still somewhat rare.
And Jocelyn Chey was a young woman who liked unique things.
Jocelyn moved to Hong Kong to study her master’s degree and soon landed her “first proper job,” the beginning of her career in foreign relations.
“I decided the one thing I really wanted to make my lifestyle complete as an independent professional woman was a car,” Jocelyn recalls.
A Mini Cooper was the obvious choice, in a bright blue colour that turned heads wherever she drove.
“It was the swinging 60s, and we youngsters were determined to make the most of life in all sorts of ways.
“[My Mini] took me to all sorts of places I couldn’t have ever got to without a car.
“I enjoyed it, and my friends enjoyed it, and we had many happy occasions with it.”
Living just outside the city, Jocelyn earned “quite a reputation” for driving around in her Mini, and taking on hill climbs and winding roads.
“The experience of a Mini is not just a fashion statement, it’s a real car where you feel you’re in control, and you enjoy the driving experience,” she says.
“The great thing about the old Mini was that you felt connected with the road – it was very low down and you felt the traction and you enjoyed the connection with its innovative technology.”
The Mini proved invaluable on many occasions – including when a typhoon hit Hong Kong in 1964.
Living at the top of a steep, wooded hill in the New Territories, Jocelyn was able to navigate quickly and safely down the hill to the fishing village below – only to find the valley recovering from a flood and a fishing boat on top of the railway station roof.
Jocelyn worked in Hong Kong for four more years, during which time she met her Chinese husband and gave birth to their first baby.
“I was determined to do my own thing and be unconventional.
“It was extremely unconventional for a cross-cultural marriage in those days. Having a Mini was unconventional too.”
The young family moved back to Australia in 1966, bringing both their baby and their Mini with them. Besides driving up and down the hills of Mosman and Sydney’s North Shore, they took it on some longer trips, for instance, north to Lightning Ridge to buy opals and back through the cotton fields of Wee Waa.
“My two younger brothers were extremely envious, and they kept borrowing my car.
“There were some Minis around then but I don’t remember seeing more than one or two Austin Coopers.
“In fact, that car was so much desired that it was stolen three times. And that dear old Mini died of old age, after giving much joy to us all including my brothers.”
The Cheys moved to Canberra soon after, where Jocelyn started working with the Department of Trade and then Foreign Affairs, in Australia-China relations and was posted overseas on several occasions.
It would be another few decades before the opportunity came up to have a Mini again.
“After my husband died, I no longer needed a car to fit his golf clubs in,” Jocelyn says.
“I decided I would go back and try to retrieve my long-lost youth…I loved my Mini before I loved him.”
Jocelyn bought a new Mini Hatch, followed by another three more over the next fifteen years.
“I bought a blue one, then a red, then a white one, and now I have an Ice Blue MINI,” she says.
“I love them for the same reasons I did originally - first of all a combination of the design and the driving experience and secondly it suits my lifestyle.
“Very often people think bigger is better with cars, but I still have that argument with a lot of people.”
A five-time owner of Minis over the past 50 years, Jocelyn says that to her, MINIs have been much more than just cars.
“It’s very authentic…because Mini, you trust it and you develop an emotional bond with it.
“It’s like a good friend you can depend on.”