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Mini Cooper S Restoration Part 3

After spending so much time, energy and money on the restoration of the Mini Cooper S, it’s great to see that it’s finally on the home stretch.

With the re-built engine installed and running it’s now time to add some of the finishing touches.

Forty-five years of UV light and wear and tear can take its toll on all of the window and door rubbers, but fortunately they are all still available for purchase at $600 for a full set.

The seats have been re-upholstered, and the cabin is all back in one piece at last.

So, it’s finally time to take the Mini back out on the road.

The engine ticks over nicely and, with the gearbox completely re-conditioned, everything should be as good as new.

But alas, there is a problem.

The gears aren’t changing freely, and it’s necessary to double de-clutch on every change.

That means slightly revving the engine in neutral to try to match the revolutions of the input and output shafts, particularly when down-shifting.

How could this be? After all, the Mini had a brand new clutch.

Further investigation revealed that the culprit was a worn clutch pedal pivot bush.

The movement in the loose bush meant that, even when the clutch pedal was fully depressed, the other end of the shaft just wasn’t moving through its full range of movement and, therefore, the clutch was not fully disengaging.

Once discovered, it was a simple fix for a problem too subtle to spot on the re-build.

So what was the Mini like on the road?

Well, frankly, just a little disappointing!

It is, after all, a 45-year-old design which lacks all of the modern engineering that makes 2015 cars feel so refined and smooth.

There’s no power steering, no air conditioning and the performance is sluggish compared to a modern turbo-powered car.

In the event of an emergency there is no ABS, no airbags or crumple zones and crashing in a Mini was never meant to be injury-free.

So, for a total investment which could have bought a fairly new hot hatch, was the whole job worthwhile?

Well yes, I think so.

Because restoring the Mini was never about making a profit.

It was about restoring a piece of motoring history and bringing the little car back to its full glory, just like it was when it left the factory.

Would my friend tackle the whole job again?

He’d have to think about that.

PS Once completed my friend reluctantly decided to sell the Mini.

It didn’t last long on, and the new owner really didn’t pay a premium for all the time and effort that had gone into the restoration.

He mentioned that he was thinking about changing a few things on the car, like installing a stereo system.

Expecting that might happen, my friend advised the new owner that he’d pre-wired the car for whatever stereo he might install, but he also warned the new owner that whatever he did from here that changed the car from its original stock build would de-value it.

Proving the point that it’s often better to leave things alone and stick with the original, particularly if it has stood the test of time.

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser

1970 Mini Cooper S

Engine: 1275cc 4 cylinder OHV

Power: 45 kW @ 5550 rpm

Torque: 91 Nm @ 3000 rpm

0-100 km/h in 12 seconds

Top speed 148 km/h

7.3 l/100km