Winter has at least made it’s appearance, with a couple inches of snow recirculated by our usual 30+ MPH winds, but thankfully none of last winters nightmarish visions of snow canyons leading to the garage. Been cool though, in fact hasn’t been above freezing for a week. So with a couple inches of the aforementioned snow forecast for the weekend followed by a couple days of said near blizzard winds… Clearly it was time to retire to the garage and officially kick off the winter rebuild season!

Debated whether I should start with assessing the “scope of work” the ’66 Cooper S will require and swapping the small hack from the ST to the GS. Not having done any serious work on the Cooper S in a while, it won out… Time to steel myself to survey the tinworm’s carnage and put together a brief bill of materials…

DSC_3146This is one of the better views, fading paint revealing bodywork repairs from a pervious owner, or maybe another one that required a lot of “rectification’ at the Longbridge factory?

DSC_3148Right rear quarter, complete with rust through on both the quarter panel AND the drip rail.

DSC_3156Don’t forget to add a rear subframe to the bill of materials too. Funny, the front ones never seem to rust out on Brit cars…

DSC_3160Looks like my 70s vintage bondo patch is holding up fairly well… Unfortunately everything around it has rusted out!

DSC_3162Interior is kinda rough too… And did you notice that most all the glass is missing? Both the result of rats, the glass breakage the work of a two legged one… A landlord from the 70s who got even in the 90s for the lawsuit he lost against his tenants. Even left a note, parts of which are unprintable, but Minneapolis police were uninterested. I’d done the usual rocker panel etc. replacement back in the 70s, but now it pretty much needs a hole new floor, as well as fenders, quarter panels, front bulkhead, trunk floor, and there’s even a rust hole or three in the roof!

Fortunately most all the parts are available from an outfit called M-Machine in Britain, added up just the major body parts and the total came to near three thousand pounds, or around $5000. Essentially, I’d be building a new body shell from parts, not an easy job without a jig. The other option is a whole new body shell, and thanks to British Motor Heritage, Ltd., they’re still available, for going on $10,000. Not that bad a deal, given that the 60s Mustang and Camaro body shells are around $15k, and they don’t even include the hood and fenders! So I abandoned the garage to drown my sorrows, which was tough ’cause I quit drinking and I didn’t have any chocolate in the house… I had to muddle through with instant hot cocoa.

Having thus confined my depression to sub clinical levels, I started off this morning verifying that the engine would still turn over. Haven’t had a Mini radiator out since the 70s, and found that my much upgraded tools more than made up for what I’ve lost in dexterity since then. Yup, their is a flicker of hope if not fire yet… The 1275 cc. lump still turns over! So now come the tough decisions- Do I spend over $10k and probably twice that doing a proper restoration, purists be damned by the hidden hinges and wind up windows on the 70s pattern repop body shells? Or then again, other than that big hole, the bondo patches I put on in the 70s held up pretty well, and none of my pop riveted on rocker panels came loose…