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How To Spot A Mk3 (Oct '69- '76) Mini Saloon Shell.


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#1 Boycie

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:05 PM

Hi all,

It's common to see Mk3 Minis for sale for top-dollar, which have clearly been re-shelled into a later body.

 

The Mk3 Mini is generally accepted to be the model produced from late 1969, to sometime in 1976.  It has internal door hinges but keeps the solidly-mounted front subframe, which gives the Mini its superbly responsive steering.

Sometimes the sellers are aware of this, sometimes not.  Many people say that it doesn't matter and all internal-hinged Mini 'shells are the same... well they are definitely not!  If you are investing considerable money or time into a pre-'76 saloon, you want to know you're getting the right thing for your money..

There are big legal/ moral issues involved here too.. some re-shells are legal, a lot are not.  I'm not wishing to get involved with that on this thread but it's worth remembering, an early car with a chassis number stamped into it from the original 1980s/90s body it was 'built into' will do more than raise a few eyebrows with your cheerful DVSA inspector.  The worst case scenario is that you will lose the car if it has questionable provenance, the best is that it will be put onto a 'Q' plate and you will lose your tax-exempt status- not nice on an otherwise decent car.  (edit- I'm not sure Q-plates are issued nowadays..)

 

If you own a Mk3 car with a later 'shell and are happy with it, that's no problem.  Every Mini is unique!  But if you're in the market for an original car, you'll need to know what to look for.  From a casual glance, all 1970-onwards 'shells look much the same.  The differences are under the skin and make quite a difference.

 

Hence, this thread!

Please use the pictures below to age a Mk3 Saloon body shell :-)

First off, have a look at the floor. All pre-1973 Mk3s had a 'remote' gear change which used a big alloy extension from the back of the gearbox, which runs under the floor. The Mk3 floor where the gear stick comes through, up to 1973 (and a little later for 850cc cars..), looks like this with an 'oval' shaped exhaust tunnel-

25585036217_d4d803301d_z.jpgRemote change floor by David James, on Flickr

 

1973 onwards cars have the later, rod-change tunnel-

 

26585296388_fe11c5ea2d_z.jpgRod change floor by David James, on Flickr

 

 

Mk3 cars have the twin-cable handbrake setup, with a different bracket as below-

40456093841_00e6c025ac_b.jpgTwin handbrake cables by David James, on Flickr

 

All Mk3 (1970-1976) cars had a solid-mounted front subframe with a twin-bolt fixing at the top. Look under the bonnet in the corners of the bulkhead cross-member. A solid-mounted (pre 1976) car should have twin fixing bolts here.  Here's a subframe part-way in place, showing where the bolts go into-

38645875930_a074b3f2e9_z.jpgSolid subframe bolts by David James, on Flickr

 

A 1976 onwards (mk4) car will have one single big bolt with a rubber mount here instead-

 

39746510234_9847495110_z.jpgRubber front mount by David James, on Flickr

 

Now check out the triangular plate that shields this area. It connects the bulkhead cross-member to the inner wing. Solid-mounted cars have a smaller hole here for the wiring to pass through on the O/S. Also, the four holes halfway down the plate are absent on early (pre '73?) mk3s -

40413084362_95b651b792_z.jpgBulkhead strengthener by David James, on Flickr

 

Now, still under the bonnet, check out the middle of the bulkhead cross-member, behind the carb if the engine is still fitted. There is a dip here to allow the carb's jet to clear the bodywork. On pre 1975 cars, this is very shallow as there was no waxstat jets fitted at this point-

26586134968_e5d6a7d6ae_z.jpgShallow crossmember dip by David James, on Flickr

Mk3 cars also had 'drip rails' fitted to the guttering around the roof-

25585999597_fe9ba7de1a_c.jpggutter drip rail by David James, on Flickr

 

Now go to the back of the car. Look at the rear seat back. Pre 1973ish.. cars should have this big 'rotodip' hole-

SeatbackrotodipRSZ.jpg

Look in the rear 'companion' boxes, either side of the rear seat base. Cars made prior to 1975ish.. had welded-in ashtray holders, as pictured-

NSCompanionboxRSZ.jpg

Now look in the boot. If the fuel tank is present, it should be the smaller 5.5 gallon size before 1976. This also needs the long support bracket, arrowed below-

40457341221_5f7b9aa0b5_c.jpgEarly tank support by David James, on Flickr

 

If you're lucky enough to find a car with it's original outer sills, pre 1971 cars had four-vent sills.
All cars after 1971 had the more familiar six-vent items, if original of course.

A really decent, restored, pre-71 car should have four-vent sills as they are still available new..

Hopefully the above should give you some advice about ageing a bare body shell.

Remember, all pre-1980 cars had NO chassis numbers stamped into the scuttle.

 

Of course, if the car is still complete, there are many, many bolt-on items that can allow you to age an otherwise unidentifiable car but, all these things can be changed; it's easy to be put off the scent with things like smaller, mk2/3 rear lamps and early switches, etc.

 

You'll notice I've put ...ish.. after some of the dates.  This is because there are no definite cut-off points for changes to the Mini body shell.  In most cases, records were not even kept by BL or whatever they were called at the time.  Parts were used up 'as and when' and there was definitely the odd 'mongrel' shell out there that has been that way since it left the factory.  However, the above is a reasonably reliable, basic guide to the major metalwork changes.

It is true that, Minis- being the cars they are, were commonly 'uprated' over the years. For example, it was all the rage to fit the larger, Mk2-style rear lamps over the early, tiny Mk1 units in the 70s and 80s.  However, it's not easy to change everything, especially solid-mounted bulkheads etc, so it's relatively simple to I.D a genuine mk3 'shell.

Happy hunting, know what you're buying!! :-)


Edited by Boycie, 24 February 2018 - 02:40 PM.


#2 1987_ParkLane

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:14 PM

Hmmm...very interesting >_< .

#3 GreaseMonkey

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:18 PM

An excellent guide which points out all the main features of a pre 76 shell, will be of great help to anyone not so acquainted with the differences when buying an older mini.

#4 Nic

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:25 PM

the ashtray holders in the rear pockets and the hole in the rear seat back was only up to 1972 cars phased out the same time the remote change floor panm was i expect.

#5 Ethel

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:25 PM

I had a 1974 Mini without the hole in the rear seat or ashtrays in the storage bins.

#6 Boycie

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:29 PM

Hmmm yes I suppose that would make sense..! In that case I would think it's safe to say it's probably pre-72 for the big rotodip hole and companion box ashtrays! Must have saved BL all of 10p per car to leave out the ashtrays >_<

#7 Ethel

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:39 PM

They swapped to the gear tunnel ashtray. Might've been seat belt related, if only to stop people burning holes in them >_< .

#8 Boycie

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:45 PM

Ah yes, how could I forget the way people kick it every time they climb in the back!!

I just love the way the Mk1 cars had 5 ashtrays >_< Smoking must have been very important in the 50's lol.

#9 notthatrusty

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 05:24 PM

good post cheers you have confirmed for me that mine is infact a 1971. feel a little bad now for cutting the cross member out but the turbo had to go in.

#10 captainjack15

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 05:27 PM

Thats an impressive guide there mate, read through it Yesterday and didn't post.

Brilliant :D

#11 BLUE ITALIAN JOB

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 01:13 PM

very good guide mate , but do you know of any "OFFICIAL" guides to pin point the year of man'f , having trouble with vosa who say a H plated clubman 69/70 - and all minis should have the chassis No stamped into the body , they will not listen or do not want to look further than there computer screens which say "stamped in scuttle"
the car has been modded and at some point the chassis plate has been miss-laid !!!!! can get another plate but i need the log book which has been retained by vosa , have had the car a few years and had known the car before it was purchased ,
until i can get the log book back i cant get a chassis plate - i cant get a chassis plate until i get a log book !!!!!!!!!
so do you or anyone out there know of any sites / places to visit/ ask that can give "OFFICIAL" date or year of manufacture by what metal parts/panels are fitted to the body ,
if i can not prove year is 69/70 it will loose being historic and they will put it on a Q plate ....

#12 Ethel

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 01:26 PM

Write them a letter stating your case and asking what provenance they will accept. British Motoring Heritage might be of use or some "national institution" that has a Mini of unquestionable provenance like the Beaulieu Museum. Someone on here may have some BMC technical publications that list change points for things like the gearbox.

#13 Boycie

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 01:39 PM

Hmmm I sympathyse blue_Italian_Job, do as Ethel says, also would you have any pictures of the car from the past, with it's original plates on?
On balance, I think BMH would be your best bet. Good luck.

#14 BLUE ITALIAN JOB

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 02:11 PM

thanks for the reply , vosa were not interested in any pics of the car before or during its make-over , they just keep asking for proof of chassis stamping - on the chassis ..................

#15 Boycie

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 02:14 PM

Well that's a joke.. because chassis/shells were not stamped until 1980, VOSA of all people should at least know this.. write letter after letter if you have to, they are WRONG!




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