Menu

Austin Mini Rebuild Project

The Scrap Austin Mini

Early 2018 a friend a friend of my wife was about to scrap an old Austin Mini that had been in their family for many years, unfortunately for the past seven years it had been parked up off the road and left under a tree. Not wanting to see the car stripped for spares and the body crushed, she offered it to my wife who had said I was looking for a project, and gave me the opportunity to see if it could be restored. The car is suffering from a lot of bad body work repairs the usual bucket loads of rust and a two pack paint job that has failed to stick, is cracking up and peeling off.

Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive.

The Mini was in a sorry state sitting under the tree, leaves and moss had been composting all over the car, especially under the bonnet. All the tyres were flat and side walls split and cracked where they had sat creased on the driveway. We managed to get two tyres and the spare wheel to inflate, but had to borrow a wheel from a local garage in order for us to tow the car the mile to our house.

Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive. Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive.
Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive. Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive.
Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive. Austin Mini City as it was when we towed it onto the drive.

Before I could have a serious look at what was involved in rebuilding the mini, I needed to clear my workshop of all the woodworking machinery that's filling it up. This means re-roofing my old pottery building to stop the leaks, so the old rotting Oriented Strand Board and felt roof needs to be replaced with a box profile steel roof. The mini was covered up for a few months whilst I get my workshop ready. October 2018 I was finally in a position where I could bring the mini indoors. My pottery roof had been replaced and a lot of the machinery moved out of my garage workshop. I could now have a good look at what would be needed to get it back into a road worthy condition.

My garage workshop clear enough to get the mini inside. Austin Mini City in the garage for assessment.

After an oil change and a little bit of tinkering with the Minis engine I managed to get it started. All it took was to rig up a temporary fuel feed to the carburettor and to clean and reset the points. That's the good thing about older engines, no need for an OBD11 device to read fault codes, just old fashioned detective work on the ignition and fuel systems. It sounds a bit rough on the video, but that is because the exhaust and steel manifold is pretty rotten. I I am really pleased that there's no frost damage to the engine, and the coolant system still holds water after 7 years standing.

Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.
Austin Mini - 1st run in over 7 years

The Strip Down

As the Mini sits so close to the ground it wasn't possible to see the state of the cars underbelly when I first towed it home. Once I had the car running It was time to get it jacked up onto axle stands and start the strip down. Before I built two bedrooms and a bathroom over my garage, the ceiling was much higher and I had a double beam that I could hang a chain block from to remove car engines. Without that beam, I needed a new engine hoist so bought a basic 2 tonne hoist off Ebay, a bargain at only £112.00

The new engine hoist. The new engine hoist.
The new engine hoist. The new engine hoist in action removing the engine.

With the glass and most of the components removed from the body, it was clear the Mini had suffered some significant rust damage in a lot of places. With the engine out it was easier to see the rot on the off side of the bulkhead cross member which will need to be replaced. Taking out the seats, carpets and sound deadening exposed the floors and inner sills which had significant rust areas. With the windscreen removed and body filler prised out, the lower windscreen scuttle was found to be rotten both ends of the windscreen.

The engine removed exposed more rust to the bulkhead crossmember. The rotten front floor panels.
Rust where the rear seat back meets the boot floor. The corroded windscreen scuttle panel.
The corroded windscreen scuttle panel.

There is going to be a lot more work than expected under the car so my thoughts have moved on to designing a rotating jig (car spit roast frame) so I can turn the Mini upside down.

Page 2 the rotating jig >>>