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#1 barneyman

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 01:55 PM

Hello,

 

Myself and my 14 year old son are embarking on a journey of discovery as we are going to buy a mini as a project car and so I was wondering if there was anything the community could share before we leap ahead?

 

Whilst my son is a serious petrolhead and does do some after school work on an old landrover at school we have very little hands on experience, especially me! So we were thinking nothing too major to start things off. Maybe a c £5-£6k rover 1.3 which we can learn on, tinker here and there and build our knowledge and confidence. The current idea is to do a homage to a racing mini but still thinking things through.

 

Looking around that seems to be the price for a restored mini which may now need some more TLC, or our own enhancements.

 

Was there anything we should watch out for when making this purchase beyond rust!

 

I was advised don't worry about getting an automatic (we want it to be manual) as its very easy to switch the gearbox, would you agree?

 

Any help or suggestions would be very welcome.

 

Many thanks



#2 Chris1275gt

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 03:10 PM

Hi
As a novice 2 years ago when I bought a 75 1275gt I found virtually every thing on a mini is simple and doable with a bag of spanners and a set of screwdrivers only a few things need special tools. It's great fun to find out how it all works and put it all together. If my kids are anything to go by, you should bear in mind it could possibly end up being your project!
I would go for an earlier one with just the basics, before they had relays and fuel injection, but whatever floats your boat, you will have great fun doing it and the absolute wealth of experience on here to help you.

#3 W1NG3D

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 03:38 PM

I'd go for a manual to start with if you can, there's a bit more involved with swapping from an auto box to a manual than you might expect and I wouldn't put it in the category of "very" easy - this guide has some more detailed information: https://www.minimani...sic_Information

 

That aside I was in a similar position a fair while ago, I bought a fairly solid 1965 mini on my 18th birthday to use, work on and upgrade, and learned loads about mechanical basics while getting some valuable hands-on experience that I would've never likely got with a more modern car. It started out as a standard 850cc and now has a more powerful 1275 engine, close ratio gearbox, upgraded brakes, new(ish) interior, and a bunch of other bits and pieces which I added over the years. It feels nice to have been able to put my personal touch on the car and learn lots in the process. Minis are generally quite simple to work on with a fairly basic set of tools so I reckon they're a great choice for someone looking to get into classic cars and working on vehicles at home.

 

As Chris1275gt says, an earlier car would probably suit you better since the carb models are a much simpler affair, and are a bit more "tune-able" than an electronically controlled fuel injection car - plus you'll have more room in the engine bay to access various bits and bobs. 5-6k is probably quite a decent budget to find a solid base car to work on as a rolling project, and as you mentioned rust, is definitely the main thing to look out for; I'd sooner buy a solid car which needs some mechanical work, than the other way round!



#4 humph

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 03:43 PM

Sounds like an exciting project. I'm sure everyone will have their opinions on this, but here's by two penneth;

 

1) If you're a novice, buy the car with the best bodywork you can.  Bodywork if you're not planning on doing it yourself is expensive and can lead to the car off the road for years. If the plan is for a rolling project you guys can enjoy at shows buy the best bodywork you can afford.

2) Again as a novice buy a pre-injection car. My injection car is reasonably reliable, but you'll find far more support for the carb version, the injection cars can be a mystery to all but a few knowledgeable forum members.

 

Mechanicals are pretty straight forward, it's just a big mechano kit really (yeah right!). A Haynes manual and use of this forum will get you through the mechanicals, take lots of pictures before you take something apart and refer to them as you put back together. Build up a decent set of DIY mechanics tools and you'll be flying, bodywork and welding is a completely different story.


Edited by humph, 25 June 2020 - 03:46 PM.


#5 cal844

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 04:31 PM

Rust and bodywork, mechanical stuff is easier.

My dad and I have restored 3 minis with a little help from a friend along the way, you want to also make sure the wiring loom isnt hacked to bits and then make sure there is minimal amounts of filler (use a magnet to see what's there without disturbing the paint)

Hope this helps

Cal

#6 RustyAutoCityE

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 06:34 PM

Just to chime in, don't be put off by an automatic. If you find one in a tidy condition and within budget, give it some consideration and remember you don't have to convert to a manual. 

 

Yes they can be considered "higher maintenance" with more regualr oil changes, but they are still fun to nip about in. Just make sure the gearbox works as it should (can be said about manuals as well).



#7 cal844

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 08:07 PM

Just to chime in, don't be put off by an automatic. If you find one in a tidy condition and within budget, give it some consideration and remember you don't have to convert to a manual.

Yes they can be considered "higher maintenance" with more regualr oil changes, but they are still fun to nip about in. Just make sure the gearbox works as it should (can be said about manuals as well).


I agree with this, when the automatic works it does work well, the same can be said of a manual transmission

#8 barneyman

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 08:33 PM

Many thanks for the comments so far, really very helpful. Very much noted on the fuel injection comments as well as avoiding rust as much as possible.

 

undecided on manual vs automatic, though they will both be in my thoughts when searching. Couple on auto trader look decent, I think we will aim to get something over the next couple of weeks.



#9 cal844

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 10:21 PM

Carbs are less expensive and easier to work on. I generally keep the engine and carbs in clean condition, simple tuning and road testing to get the car in peak form, I dont use rolling roads, I dont even use a timing light

Edited by cal844, 25 June 2020 - 10:22 PM.


#10 barneyman

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 03:37 PM

Back again!

 

Forgive me if a silly question but is there really much difference between a 1.3 and 1.0? We have seen a nice rust free City E 1.0 and are mulling over making a decision on this. Do we bite the bullet on this as it's available now or is it worth waiting (but for how long!) for a 1.3? Our intentions are to make it look like a racing mini so whilst it doesn't need to perform like a souped up racing mini we would like some degree of performance and punch to the car.

 

Thanks again.



#11 RustyAutoCityE

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 04:07 PM

You can have a lot of fun in a 998, and there is always scope to upgrade down the line if you feel like it.

 

If the bodywork is sound and the price is good, I wouldn't be too worried about performance at this stage.

 

In the end though you have to remember that even a stock 1.3 isn't going to set the world on fire compared to a modern car.



#12 ads7

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 06:06 PM

Back again!

Forgive me if a silly question but is there really much difference between a 1.3 and 1.0? We have seen a nice rust free City E 1.0 and are mulling over making a decision on this. Do we bite the bullet on this as it's available now or is it worth waiting (but for how long!) for a 1.3? Our intentions are to make it look like a racing mini so whilst it doesn't need to perform like a souped up racing mini we would like some degree of performance and punch to the car.

Thanks again.


Don't worry about power, I've had a modified 1.3 in my car and now have the least powerful 850cc engine. Honestly I don't miss the larger engine at all as it's so much fun to really drive the car to try and keep up with the slowest of modern cars.

Rust is the big enemy of these cars - you're looking at big money for welding if you inadvertently buy a dud.

If I were you I'd buy the solid 998 you've mentioned. For your budget you should get a good original car which has had minimal welding in its lifetime. Then it's a case of cosmetic goodies to achieve the look you want.

Finally, ak the seller how long they've owned the car for as nearly every Mini will need niggles sorting out and over time the owner will have addressed the defects or can tell you what may need sorting out in future (if they are honest) .

The other option is to buy from a mini forum member who has a build thread up that you can refer to.

Good luck !

#13 Haynes

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 09:01 PM

We did a similar thing, I've had minis for 30+ years so my son, now 20 he has grown up with em. We bought his 88 mayfair a couple of years ago and on test drive earlier today he was saying how much he has learnt.

He never showed much interest to work on my cars but now he gets annoyed if I do anything to his car without him. The advantage is I have reasonable knowledge and most of the tools. But this forum is invaluable for advice, these days you're not alone with only a Haynes manual with its cryptic guidance.

We paid over £3k and it had a full mot. We felt this has been better than a project needing a lot of work before returning to the road. It needed a few easy fixes but then we realised the engine needed a complete rebuild, again massive opportunity to learn. But by then the MoT had run out and it failed miserably needing a fair bit of welding, we turned to a local chap to sort this. Love to weld myself but so far have relied on others for help.

Doing it at your sons pace may take a long long time but the other danger is you take over and he's not so involved. Let him chose the colour and the exhaust, so he feel its his.

You have to see what cars come up for sale rather than seeking a particular model. The earlier the better, if its tax exempt all the better.

Good luck and enjoy.

#14 W1NG3D

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 09:59 PM

As others have said I wouldn't worry at all about the difference in performance between a 998 and a 1275 engined Mini, even the slowest 850 can be a fun driving experience, and none of the standard mini engines are really going to set the world alight with power figures. In fact I'd say that the lower powered models are great for practicing driving skills & intuition since you need to anticipate things like overtaking and getting up hills far more in advance, and probably become more in tune with the car and your environment as a result! Plus you'll have the added benefit of less fuel consumption - my current daily driver 998 averages around 46-47 MPG, which is actually slightly better than the 2011 MINI Clubman I previously owned!  :D



#15 barneyman

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 07:52 AM

Great, thanks for the help, you have settled my mind about getting a 1.0. The car we like is in Sheffield, we are right on the south coast so a 4 hour drive! Nice looking little rust free blue 1988 city e. It’s on auto trader if you want to see...We can’t get up there until next weekend so thought it would be prudent to get an inspection done in advance and then view it at the weekend assuming all is well, and then purchase it and arrange delivery.

 

i phoned AA as they advertise inspections for any age car, but they actually only do cars up to 15 years old. Seems like a trade description issue, but anyway.

 

there seems to be a few other options, carexamer for example. Does anyone have any recommendations for an inspection service for a mini this age, or are they all doing the same type of service and checks?

 

our thinking is that as we don’t know enough yet about engines and bodywork etc so that we should get an inspection regardless. All we would do on viewing is look at it and have a little drive, so let’s get the inspection done first and if they find fault we have saved an 8 hour round trip.
 

hope that makes sense






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