DSC_4599I doubt it… Mini crazed maniacs figured out how to float ’em, and Canadian National put steel wheels on ’em and put ’em on rails. And while this particular example has lost a lot of heavy metal to rust, it’s still very much a heavier than air craft or whatever. Note the yellow and red load straps streaming down from above- I’m taking out the subframes so I can start rebuilding them and the suspension and power train. Yup, it’s that rusty… I dared not put the now less than thousand pound Mini’s weight on it’s tinwormed belly. Even had to be careful lifting by the roof, I’ve heard of R model Mack cabs collapsing whilst being hung from above. But the Mini’s roof proved more than stout, and I’m now starting to question my affection for R model Macks, fortunately I never crash tested one!

Having removed the Mini’s engine which revealed the front bulkhead in all it’s ugliness it was quite apparent that even the firewall was perforated by the tinworm, and that’s the only panel of consequence that’s not available new for this Mark 1 Mini. I suspect that’s at the urging of BMW’s lawyers who made the British company that supplies the only near full selection of Mark 1 replacement panels change their name from “Mini Machine” to “M Machine”- You can’t build an authentic Mark 1 Mini bodyshell without that panel. BMW did however give their blessing to a spinoff of the keepers of most all British motoring history, the British Motor Heritage Trust, that manufactures complete new Mini bodyshells as well as shells for MGBs, Spridgets, and such. Problem (at least to the purists) is that the oldest Mini shell they make is for a later Mark 4, differing in a few minor details like wind down vs. sliding windows and slightly bigger rear window and tail lamps. For you VW bug lovers, that’s less than the difference between a Super Beetle and the older flat windshield models. But the “rivet counters” are never satisfied…

So the plan is to rebuild this Cooper S on a new bodyshell, fitted out as the streetable rally car a Cooper S was intended to be… They were nearly twice the price of a standard Mini and they built barely enough to meet the homologation requirements for competition. That means a pretty much stock 78 HP engine with modern safety features like a roll cage and safety harnesses. Also means I can substitute cheaper (relatively) racing seats and such for the pricey reproduction items. Pretty much the same with the suspension and brakes… Rebuilt with new wear parts and maybe convert the unobtainium hydrolastic suspension to conventional.

Now I haven’t cleared this plan yet with the purists over at the MiniMania forum, who will no doubt offer their condemnation at this proposed sacrilege and offer to sell me an almost as rusty Mark 1 bodyshell, sight unseen. But when you fly past your competitors, who cares if they notice that your rear window and tailights are too fat!

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