Ok, it’s been a long, slow, expensive process but I’m happy enough with the Mini that I can now post some photos! There’s still a bunch of things to do – and there probably will be “a bunch of things do to” for as long as I own the car. That’s kind of the fun with old cars – they’re a great place to hide money. And by “hide” I mean “throw away, never to be seen again”. Still, despite its propensity to suck any and all spare cash out of your bank account, it’s a fun little car that everyone smiles at, and it’s a blast to drive. Well, it is NOW, anyhow.
Remember how she USED to look?
WOW. Not so nice. Well, here it is NOW!
Ta DAAAH! Here we can see the new chrome rear mirror, the new driving lights, and of course the new wheels – 12×5.5″ Ultralights – mounted with brand new Yokohama A539 165/60R12’s. The rims were hand imported by myself from the UK:
…which I would seriously NOT recommend. More on that later. Let’s get on to the CAR, man!
Here’s the back rear. Beauty! The extra width on the tires really fills out the Wood & Pickett flares nicely. What you CAN’T see here is the new suspension; it’s been entirely changed. The car now sits on brand new sRacer springs, KYB Gas-A-just shocks, and the ride height is adjustable by way of a Hi-Low suspension kit (which I cannot seem to figure out how to adjust). Anyhow, the old, shitty rubber cone suspension system (I mean, come on; suspension using rubber cones?) has been ripped out and entirely replaced with modern bits. It still feels like a go-kart, but at least my teeth don’t feel like they’re about to fall out with every bump.
Headlight peaks because they’re just adorable. ADORABLE!
I got these two oversized driving lights from Ebay – they were shipped from Australia. I wanted to big ones rather than four little ones. I wish they were just a TOUCH bigger, but I got them for fifty bucks so I’m not complaining. Chrome, of course.
YEAH! Check out those WHEELS! And what’s that little bit of gold peeking through the black rim, hmmm?
Oh boy, have the crappy old rusty brakes been replaced with four pot caliper KAD racing brakes? With VENTED, SLOTTED AND DRILLED ROTORS, no less?! Yes! Yes they have. You can also see the EBC “Green stuff” racing brakepad as well, I’ll have you know. Also hand imported from London! And the price? Man, you don’t wanna know. But here’s the link of you do. I went a little overboard on these, but when your car is made of tin and you’re about to hit an SUV that swerved into your lane, I’m all about spending money on decent brakes. And these KAD conversions are about as good as they get.
Chrome transmission (or “gearbox”, as the brits say) guard on the bottom of the car. It says “Mini”! I could have gotten one for less that didn’t say “MINI” but that’s not as cool. I don’t want anyone to mistake my car for a Volvo, after all. Speaking of useless bling…
Forza style racing flip top gas cap! Chrome! I love chrome. Here it is open:
Fantastic! Let’s go inside now.
The interior used to be white. Not anymore! Black leather doorcards. I replaced the plastic doorhandles with chrome bits (it’s either chrome or walnut). Corbeau racing seats, Walnut steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake. Custom 5.25″ speaker pods flown in from the UK! The walnut dash is the same one the car came with.
Here’s the Corbeau Microsuede A4’s. I HATED the original seats – the headrest came up to the middle of your back. Not at all safe and not at all cool. So I went bananas and bought these seats. Yeah, these are a little over the top. But I don’t care. I fucking LOVE these seats. I even re-upholstered the back seats in microsuede to match!
Here’s the dash. Custom footpedals (they say “MINI!”) are also visible. The gas one doesn’t fit – we have to cut the pedal off, bend it into shape, then weld it back on. And by “us” I mean “the mechanic who’s kids I’m putting through school”.
Oh GOD that’s a hot steering wheel.
You GOTTA have the matching shifter, too.
Oh, and the parking brake. I mean, if you’ve got the wheel, you need the parking brake and shifter to match. That’s a no-brainer.
Ok, enough monkeying around. Let’s get into the ICE – the In Car Entertainment. The head unit is a JVC unit with built in iPod control – you manage playlists right from the head unit. The iPod?
Hard-wired to the stereo and the power system, lives in the glove box. Sweet! Now what do we have to actually PLAY the sweet, sweet music on my iPod? Well, let’s start with those custom speaker pods.
These are JBL 5.25 P552’s. I LOVE JBL speakers; they’re not insanely priced (these were under two hundred bucks) and they have exceptional clarity and brightness. The head unit powers these bad boys, and the speaker pods, from Custom Consoles in the UK, look great. They bolt right under the dash and fit perfectly. See, the Minis were around before the whole “car stereo” thing, so finding a place to put speakers can be a little tricky – as you’ll see in a bit…
…there we go, just behind the front seats (and did I mention those were Corbeau A4’s?) there’s a little board that is in front of the rear seat – so I installed the very cool Custom Consoles 6×9 panel in place of this board, and presto, I’ve got a place to mount some mid-range sound to help balance out my front speakers. Those are JLB 6×9’s, the GTO927’s. Again, good speakers, nice range, under two hundred bucks. The board isn’t sealed air-tight against the seat so the bass isn’t really that tight, but that’s ok. I have… solutions… for that problem.
This is the back parcel shelf – I call it “the Bass Station”. It’s an Image Dynamics 8 inch Sub flanked by two Kicker 6 inch mid bass drivers. BOOM. And from the outside? Not glaringly obvious! All three speakers are quite subdued.
Image Dynamics makes GREAT subs.
…so do Kicker, and I was hoping these little 6 inch wonders would be good enough to fill out the bass – they weren’t. But they do add really nice mid-bass. Again, I love that these are really subtle looking speakers, which is rare in today’s overdesigned market – too much plastic crap and dumb-ass graphics. Subtle! That is, until you turn on these…
…then the system’s not so subtle anymore. The Kickers and the 6×9’s are driven by an Alpine MRV-F345, which is a four channel amp (duh, since I have four speakers it’s driving). It’s really, REALLY clean; not crazy powerful (which is good, because I don’t have a ton of power at my disposal – I splashed out for the Optima Yellow Top battery to help out with power management (because with both amps pumping, the cheap old battery was getting hammered). The 8″ sub is powered by an MTX Audio TC2002, and I just actually had that sub put in today (I did the amps myself and the Kickers, but the sub was too big, so I got professional help installing it in the back deck). But I think they screwed up the wiring – so ignore how it’s wired, that will probably change. It should be bridged so I’m getting the full 200 watts RMS from the amp. Then again, I’m probably talking to myself because nobody else cares. Moving along.
Well let’s get under the HOOD! While I can talk for hours about amps and speakers, I don’t really know how the shit under the hood works. There’s some piston thingies that go up and down and they make it go, or something. I’m learning, though.
OK! So this Mini is actually Italian – it’s an Innocenti Mini 1001 (the export version) built in 1973. They shipped with a stock 998cc motor. The one that USED to be in this car smoked and had two pitted cylinders, so it went. Ciao! We’ve now got a mid-eighties “Metro” engine – which is pretty much regarded as the best Mini engine ever made by the Mini nerds on all the forums. It’s a 1275cc, with a freshly rebuilt transmission (or “gearbox” as the brits call it) because the original gearbox had less teeth than a 90 year old nanny. Which is to say, not very many. Say hey, what’s that chrome thing on the top of the engine?
Hey look Cam! Just for you, it’s a Weber DGV carb. It’s pretty sporty and now that it’s run in and tuned a bit, it’s running great. The economy went down a little but it fires off the line pretty good.
The original Minis had these crappy british alternators which spat out a lousy 25 amps (because all you were running was the headlights and some spark plugs). Me? I got two amps that suck back about 60 amps in total, plus an iPod, a phat head unit, extra driving lights… in short, I needed some more power. So the folks at Alterstart in Texas hooked me up with a new alternator – it’s actually a Saturn alternator, but low and behold, it’s the EXACT SAME SIZE as the Lucas one! All the Mini nerds talk about how great this is, it’s 100 amps, but the conversion process is long and painful. I just picked up the phone and told some dudes in Texas to go ahead and convert me one; much easier.
So there you go! What’s next? Well, over the winter, we’ll do the body – chop off all the rust and replace the rusty bits with fresh metal. Fire up a fresh coat of paint… and if I have a nice long contract by then, perhaps install one of these, which then means I can install one of THESE. Oooooh, yes. YES, that’s 120 horsepower in a 1200 pound car. THAT I like the sounds of!
But for now, the car’s running great; it was leaking, but all the seals have been changed on the doors and windows, so that has been resolved. It sounds good, it stops and starts, and the seats are damn comfy. It’s got a little rust and you have to let it warm up before you drive, but it sure is fun.
So there she is! My little British Italian bucket of fun!