Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 29th 2013 Contents B1
In our haste for modernity, we
too often destroy objects of
tangible history. On the flip
side, Augustus "Mano" Sylvan
appreciates the value of preservation.
Mano s main focus is restoring old
(and not-so-old) Mini vehicles,
including cars, pickup trucks and
jeeps. At his garage, Mano pointed
to several old model Austin and Mor-
ris Mini vehicles in different stages
of restoration. "These are my toys,"
he said, with a boyish smile.
"I have a passion for Mini vehicles.
My main hobby is their restoration."
In 2001, he acquired his first old
Austin Mini. With eagle eyes, he
went through the coach works and
engine. For months he worked tire-
lessly with surgical precision to
restore it. The final product was sat-
isfying: just the way he had envi-
Mano is a member of the Wheels
Club in Dow Village, South
Oropouche. He developed his auto
mechanic and auto bodywork skills
from an early age. Most of the
younger villagers knew him as the
owner and driver of a maxi taxi; he
also ran a bar. His taxi was always
in immaculate condition; because
of his friendly, careful, driving atti-
tude, he was a favourite in his route.
Mano soon decided to acquire and
restore Minis, and became an active
member of the Trini Mini Car Club.
"Every young boy and girl should
have a hobby to pursue to old age,"
"Too many of our young people
complain of being bored."
For Mano, being bored is not an
option. Whether it s restoring Mini
cars or his latest hobby, jet skiing,
he s a man that keeps busy. He likes
jet skiing along the Mosquito Creek
and up the beautiful Godineau River
through the Oropouche wetlands,
leaving a trail of foam along the river
as he maneuvers his machine.
He explained: "It takes me five
minutes from the river mouth near
the Shore of Peace Cremation site
to The King s Wharf, in San Fer-
nando; and with no traffic jam
included. In the opposite direction,
sailing to the South to Point Fortin,
it takes me approximately 20 min-
There s an increasing interest in
jet skiing between San Fernando and
Mosquito Creek, says Mano, who is
among ten other enthusiasts who
ski together, and who will soon form
their own jet ski club. They will host
a family day, to include exhibitions
of other skiers and other aquatic
sports. Mano says this may even be
the beginning of an annual aquatic
event at Mosquito Creek.
Mano s first passion, though, is
He explained that owning a vin-
tage Mini car and driving it can be
a disappointing experience for some
people who may purchase one, only
to later discover possible drawbacks:
some may find the steering too hard
to turn, for instance, because there
is no power-steering system; the
ride may be rough; the braking sys-
tem is mechanical; the window
winders are manual; there is no air
conditioning, CD player, or other
sophisticated electronic devices com-
pared to other modern (often fully-
One driver, he shared, had
described his experience of driving
an old Austin Mini as "a physical
workout in a gym." But Mano thinks
otherwise: "You must appreciate the
history and development of the
motor car from its early days, and
the vast improvements which fol-
The Austin Mini pickup truck is
a rare sight on our roads. Many have
never seen one.
In his secluded restoration garage
in Dow Village, South Oropouche,
Mano prides his fully-restored Mini
pickup truck as "possibly the only
one of its kind in Trinidad and Toba-
go. It is in perfect working condition."
He said his Mini pickup, in its
early days, was designed as a mini-
utility vehicle (1961--982). It was
slightly longer than the Mini car,
having a rear cargo area instead of
the back passenger seat, and having
a tailgate for loading and removing
cargo. This Mini truck could carry
a maximum load of 1,500 lb (680
"Boy, I bought this Mini pickup
from a guy in Vance River," he told
me, "...it was parked up for a long
time. I always had my eye on it.
When I (finally) got this pickup, it
was a start-from-scratch exercise;
complete knock-down to complete
restoration; inside and out."
Another in his prized Mini col-
lection is an attractive metallic blue
Austin Mini Cooper (2003 model).
This special breed of Mini was the
result of a collaborative effort
between John Cooper of the Euro-
pean Cooper Car Company and the
management of British Motor Cor-
poration (BMC) of the Austin Mini.
Continues on Page B7
Mano examines a
Mini Moke engine.
PHOTOS: AL RAMSAWACK
A restored Austin Mini.
in the Caribbean
Tips to keep
your dog safe
at the beach
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