Mini: to mod or not? That is the question...

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Martin Port
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I am facing a dliemma: should I modify our Mini or leave well alone? For those of you not familiar with it, it's a 1982 Mini HL in Primula Yellow and was owned from new by an elderly lady in Richmond.

When we dragged it off of her son's driveway, it looked a bit sorry for itself and hadn't moved in three years, but we got it through an MoT and into regular use with little effort. Since then, being used extensively has taken its toll on the bodywork and it is time to do something about it.

Mrs P would like it painted a slightly darker shade of yellow and with a black roof. And I can't say I disagree - I use it a lot of the time and it looks very 'shopping car' whereas I would prefer something slightly more 'Goodwood racer'. In fact, I know that we both would.

I have just bought a set of second hand Dunlop D1 alloys (because they look good!), but the slightly wider stance means that I will need to pop some thin arches on the car (in black). My problem then is where do I stop? Replace the 1000cc engine with a 1275 unit? Fit a noisier exhaust? Put stickers on it? Bee-sting aerial?

Unlike our old 1968 Mini, I'm not actually too bothered about changing a modest '82 HL. However, I would like to know from anyone else what they have done to their classics over the years - especially Minis. What works and what doesn't? At what point did your mods go 'too far'? I know a chap near me who slowly changed the camber of the rear wheels of his Beetle until it was impossible to drive. That's not the effect I'm after...

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mk1coopers
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You can do lots to personalise the car, as long as you keep all the original parts it will only be a case of bolting them back on for the next owner if they want to. If you go to a 1275 then Cooper S discs and rear drums would be a good idea, (if you currently have drums) but you can get good results with a flowed 998 Cooper head twin SU's and a good LCB manifold and exhaust (plenty of options for the parts, but I would go for Slark Race Engineering for the head and Maniflow for the exhaust), I've seen good 998's put out 65-70 BHP at the flywheel when they have a nice cam to go with the above. Minispares do a nice black center Rosepetal replica for the Goodwood racer look, and have the bonus of not needing arches on S running gear, top these off with a set of Dunlop R7's and they will really look the part. :)

James Elliott
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Martin Martin Martin. 

As you know, I have an issue with this. And that issue is that when did you, or anyone, last see a 1982 Mini HL in Primula Yellow with an immaculate interior that hadn't been messed around with in any way?

Your car may not be the Mini for you, but it is a little time capsule, a period piece far rarer to see now than even Minis of a generation earlier, simply because the ones from that era have all died or been modified. That's why I'm not sure you should touch it.

I reckon you should sell that to someone who wants a time capsule and buy yourself an already part-modded Mini or less "timewarp" example so you are not torn over what to do with it. Then mod that one to the max. I'll help with the torch and the hammer, naturally.

I am aware that what I am suggesting is by far the least economical solution for you, but it is so much easier to tell someone else how to spend (or in this case lose) their money than it is to do it myself.

 

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GreaseMonkey (not verified)

Despite what James says, I am not sure how rare an '82 HL is, or indeed that particular colour, but I reckon there are still enough Minis surviving that you would not be up for a public flogging if you altered it. As with a lot of popular cars the law of averages says a few will survive, and Minis, as with Beetles and Minors have a loyal following and an excellent parts supply. If it was a genuine one owner, low mileage example in showroom nick, then maybe there is a cse to preserve it, but otherwise do what you want. Most of the mods you are considering are easy, cheap and can be undone later if it turns out that a yellow '82 HL is the next Ferrari California.

I am in the Model T Ford clubs both in UK and here in Australia and we often come across the same problem. My '27 was a nicely restored coupe a few years ago and when the owner advertised it for sale at a reasonable price it was bought by someone who only wanted the body for a hot-rod and the running chassis got passed on 'til it landed at Martin Towers awaiting a new rebuild. There were many cries of 'shame' etc, but the reality was the car was for sale at the right price and it seems hot rod folks are willing to pay more for a good original steel body, than old car collectors. Ford Ts were produced in even larger numbers than Minis and many still survive around the world, yes it was a shame to lose another well restored one, but it is not like someone vandalised a Bugatti Royale that can never be replaced. We have to take the attitude that whoever owns the car can do what he wants with it, and if someone else thinks that Mini should be saved for the nation and has no luck with lottery funding then dig deep and make Martin an offer he can't refuse.

Anyway, yellow with black roof, small wheelarch extensions over Dunlop alloys (at least not the cliched Minilite copies) sounds like a good look.

Go for it.

Chris Martin

Martin Port
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GreaseMonkey wrote:

Anyway, yellow with black roof, small wheelarch extensions over Dunlop alloys (at least not the cliched Minilite copies) sounds like a good look.

Go for it.

Chris Martin

 

Thanks Chris. I can understand where James is coming from - it is an angle I have spent most of my classic-owning life approaching things from, but my gut feeling is that, as you say, a 1982 Mini HL in Primula Yellow isn't necessarily the rarest beast on the planet.

What I do know is that the car I have is a very good base (both mechanically and structurally), and I think I would be shooting myself in the foot if I sold that to buy something else that may well turn out not to be as good  - particularly on my budget.

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mk1coopers
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As long as you can change everything back I can't see a problem with modifying the car. What about wrapping it rather than painting to preserve the original colour?, have some fun with it looking like it's standard, or go for the racer look with a wrap

 

 

GBt
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GreaseMonkey (not verified)

mk1coopers wrote:

As long as you can change everything back I can't see a problem with modifying the car. What about wrapping it rather than painting to preserve the original colour?, have some fun with it looking like it's standard, or go for the racer look with a wrap

Sorry if I am being a bit dumb here. but what is wrapping? Some sort of temporary applied finish? Like wallpaper? (Not like 'rapping' which is when you turn your hat around backwards and shout in rhyme).

Chris M.

mk1coopers
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GreaseMonkey wrote:

mk1coopers wrote:

As long as you can change everything back I can't see a problem with modifying the car. What about wrapping it rather than painting to preserve the original colour?, have some fun with it looking like it's standard, or go for the racer look with a wrap

Sorry if I am being a bit dumb here. but what is wrapping? Some sort of temporary applied finish? Like wallpaper? (Not like 'rapping' which is when you turn your hat around backwards and shout in rhyme).

Chris M.

Yes it's like shrink wrapping the car in a different colour (or picture), have a look at www.carbonskin.co.uk for some pictures and how they do it, the best things are that you can have it taken off, and it protects the original paint whilst it's on

GBt
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Ruff

GreaseMonkey (not verified)

Thanks for the explanation and web link mk1coopers, I guess it is another use of the technique for elaborate designs we see on trucks and buses.

I have a suspicion though, that for a Mini it might cost more than a regular paint job?

Chris M.