Rally Mini Build

Started by Mudhen, March 13, 2012, 12:12:22 PM

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I guess I should start an official thread before 94 kicks me out...so, as scary as it is making big claims that I'm going to build a rally Mini, here goes.

As a little background - I've been wanting to build some sort of historic rally car for awhile now.  The requirements were that it was at least 25 years old (per the rally regs), was pretty rough to begin with (didn't want to hack up a nice old car - wanted to build it back up/save it), and it had to be IMO really cool and unique.  The last point is due to the fact that with 3 little kids, little extra cash laying around, and the cost of getting to and entering rallies, the car will most likely spend the vast majority of its life at car shows - hopefully a family thing more than a me-going-racing thing I guess.

So what to use - I have a '65 'S' that I've owned for 25 years...but I think they're too rare to trash at this point.  I had an '83 GTI that would have been almost ideal - but was pretty nice and not different enough to take to car shows.  I looked online at BMW 2002s, Porsche 912s, a Volvo 544, etc.  Then a couple weeks ago my oldest son said, 'pup, why don't you just get another Mini'.  Made a lot of sense...I have a lot of parts laying around already....I know more about them than any other car (which still isn't a lot, actually), and having a rally Mini has been a dream of mine for what seems like forever.  Problem is they've gotten expensive since I bought my last one in 1987!!  But a quick search on Craigslist and this peach of a car turned up in western TN (wondering if anyone here ever saw it before):

Supposedly it was a 1980 that someone had chopped the top off to turn into a convertible but couldn't complete.  The guy I bought it off welded a top back onto it.  It appears to  have an 1100cc motor that isn't together - and according to the seller it will need a sleeve as one of the cylinders is damaged (can they be sleeved?).  He was asking $1400, which coincidentally was the same amount I sold my GTI for....except $800 in shipping to Maine was going to be a deal breaker.  So he kept the seats, a couple replacement doors, and the speedometer and let me have it for $1k.  Most of that stuff I wouldn't need anyway or will source over time - getting the shell was the big part.

A couple other pics:

Overall I'm psyched to have it.  I just hope I can keep some sort of momentum up and not let it sit in a corner too long.  I've done quite a bit with my old '65 'S' over time but never anything this huge - hopefully I won't be on here too much throwing up the old,  9.gif sign.  Tips, hints, 'DON'T DO THAT YOU IDIOT', suggestions, etc greatly appreciated.  I'm still torn as to which way to head with the car - retro look, with 10" wheels, etc...or build only with a focus on making it a better rally car - like the 1994 Monte car...

Bombs away.



I have seen this car!  Interesting history on it.  Sounds like you have a good car for what you're trying to do.  Any idea what panels you're needing to replace?  The tunnel on the floor looks good from that one photo, are the rest of the floors solid? 


Quote from: 94touring on March 13, 2012, 12:31:44 PM
I have seen this car!  Interesting history on it.  Sounds like you have a good car for what you're trying to do.  Any idea what panels you're needing to replace?  The tunnel on the floor looks good from that one photo, are the rest of the floors solid?

Already pushing me to get going on it?  It hasn't been 5 years yet!   20.gif

So far the floors look great.  I'm thinking maybe it spent a lot of time in the south, so didn't get totally rusted out.  The absolute worst part is the headlights...looks like someone wanted to put eyebrows on the thing so cut the fenders just above the lights and hit them in.  ARGH!!!!!

Some more pics as the strip down continues:

Pretty much ready now to get the subframes out.  Picking up the steel for the rotisserie tomorrow.



Minus the hacked up wings, doesn't look half bad.  The roof re install must have gone well too. 


A little progress.  Rear subframe is out:

And front subframe/engine, too:

So which way do you guys prefer to take the engine out - up, or down with the subframe?  I've taken the engine out of my '65 3 times - always from the top.  This was the first time attempting lifting the body instead...didn't care for it too much.  Seemed like I had to lift the body REALLY high to clear the engine...too high for my comfort level, anyway.

So does the engine stabilize itself?  Seems like I need to keep something under the front to hold it up?  Of course, could be because the PO had some of the mounts/stablizers off already.

Hopefully get the rotisserie built next weekend and get it up on it.


Getting right to work I see.  The engine will flop around on the subby, that's normal.   I lifted the car off the subby too which does require some height.


I started thinking about those wings...thought I might be able to bang out the curled over edges and just weld up any cracks.  Started poking around this morning - looks like what they actually did was to chop the top off the wing from the top headlight edge, back about a foot or so...then slid that piece forward to create the 'brow' over the light.  Then they tack welded a few pieces of metal in to fill the hole they'd created and bondo'd it all up.


Here's how it looks from inside the wing:

Wonder if I can just pop that metal out, slide the original piece back into place and weld it back up.  Probably just get a new wing.


Haha yeah that is interesting whatever they were trying to do. 


Finally got to take it for a spin!!!

So, that took longer than expected...still need to drill the holes and weld on the nuts (gotta remember to stop saying that - my 10yo gets the biggest kick out of it) so I can lock it in position, but it's almost there.

Front mount:

Rear mount:

I was going to set it up there as a test, then take it down to paint it.  But what a struggle I had getting it on...think it may get painted once the car comes off.   ::)


Spent a few hours this morning degreasing the Mini...yowza.  Didn't think it was that crappy - doesn't anyone wash the underside of their car anymore?   :D

Remembered the camera halfway through the engine bay - so made for a good before/after pic:

You could eat off the tunnel now...not sure why you would of course...

Now I need to go out and sink an anchor in my garage floor to try to winch the thing back inside before my wife gets home...it just doesn't like to roll in crushed stone.   ::)

Any of you guys use aftermarket wings, like those from MiniSport??


$69?!?!  Just what the doctored ordered...but curious if they fit ok or is it worth splurging on real ones?


I don't know about the wings but that undersside looks clean AND in great shape.


Just wanted to post some updated pics...think I have all the pieces cut out that require full panels - both outer sills, both wings, and the rear valence and closing panels.  It looks like I wasn't the first one in here - some of the panels weren't just spot welded but had a mix of seam welds and other generic metal melted on them.

I went to great pains to salvage the right wing the PO had sent me....think I'm going to regret it.  There isn't a straight spot on the thing, but I needed the top section where the wing, inner panel, and hood all meet so I used it.  You can see here where I cut the old top piece off - no clue how I'm going to get everything to line up afterwards - the hood wasn't all that straight either!

Left side:



I don't plan on using the jacking points...thinking I'll close off the holes in the outer sills to keep the junk out.  And I'd like to fab up some jack stand mounts on the sides before I put the outer sill pieces back on, but I'm not sure how deep they have to be - don't want them to interfere with the cage.  Might just have to do them later.


So after spending 3 million hours scraping seam sealer off this thing I'm wondering about the next steps.  I have to seam weld it to try to keep the body together with the pounding it will take...so can I sandblast along all the seams and then then weld?  A long time ago I'd read about people, 'splitting the seams, cleaning the seam sealer out, then seam welding' - seriously?  Holy crap that would take forever...and I'm not Team Subaru that wants a 400hp car to last 10 rally's a year for 5 years...

What about where 2 panels come together that have surface rust on them?  Is it good enough to sandblast it and sandblast as much in between the seams as possible?  Isn't there hidden rust between the panels still?

Thinking when I do my 'S' I just may have it dipped...there's a place in Mass I spoke with and it would be about $1k.  Wonder if it's worth it?


You'd probably have to break every seam on the car if you wanted absolute zero rust.  Clean what you can and fix any rot and probably good to go!


Quote from: 94touring on July 03, 2012, 11:34:51 AM
You'd probably have to break every seam on the car if you wanted absolute zero rust.  Clean what you can and fix any rot and probably good to go!

I like that.

Now I'm learning how these things go together I'm thinking next time I'll just pick up a Heritage shell and be done with it.  This is kind of silly.   :D


You saw how much metal I replaced on my truck!  Its easier to tell people what I didn't replace.  ;D.


What are the threaded holes in the front of the sills for???  Was thinking about chopping them out along with the jacking points so it's all nice and open in there for sandblasting...but can't for the life of me figure out what they'd be used for.

Picked up a copy of, 'The Last Works Minis' to use as my build guide - yowza.  Hydraulic e-brake, brake proportioning valve in reach of the driver, several more crossmembers welded across the rear floor, extra metal welded all over the place actually...etc, etc, etc.

Street car would be nice.   22.gif


Pic of said threaded holes?  I can't place it in my head.


It's the hole/bracket up front near the wheel well opening - looking at the new outer sill piece there's a really small hole near that spot but not in the same place.


Oh that thing...yeah I dunno either.  Maybe Nick will chime in.


They are leftover from the manufacturing process called a sling shoe, Typically removed when doing a restoration(they often fall out during sill removal) The bracket portion should remain as it reinforced the outer sill, as does the jacking point.

Quote from sommerford

Slinging shoes were used to move bodies around the factory, prior to fitment of wheels and running gear. Each shoe fitted into a bracket under the floor, and was secured b y a nut in the sill, into which a bolt on the shoe was threaded. The nut brackets also act as reinforcements between the outer and inner sills, so they should be retained or replaced if work is done in that area. Moreover, no slinging shoe brackets under the floor is a telltale of a car that's been fitted with new sills and/or has undergone major floor repairs. Fitting new brackets once the floor and sill work is done makes the car look correct again.


Awesome info - thanks Nick!!  So cool to learn the history of all those little things that most people don't know about.  I love it.

I put a little more work into the old girl the past couple of days.  Had yesterday and today off because the wife was traveling so someone had to be home to get the kids to/from school.  Had high hopes yesterday...'I can spend all day sandblasting...really bust it out'.  ARGH!!!!  Could NOT get my sandblaster to work.  Dumping sand out with no pressure, and jam after jam after jam, each time having to painfully unscrew the nozzle and clear it.  I ended up putting an ad on Craigslist to sell my compressor.  If I need 15cfm, I need 15cfm...

Then I stumbled on a posting of complaints about the Eastwood sandblaster.  Hmmm...maybe I need a 'Brut' sandblaster instead.  Wait...someone said you need 80 grit sand - my local shop has 'extra fine' I'll try that.

WOW!!!!  My compressor AND my sandblaster work!!!   :-[

So I blasted just the portions I would need to get the rear valence done - just as a trial run.  Also blasted and stitch welded the seam around one of the rear inner fender wells and banged out the dented-in spare tire well (like that won't just get slammed in again!   :D ).  Then I did two coats of POR...even got to use my air punch tool to make the holes for spot welding in the new panels.  The closing pieces and valence need a little tweaking still...but this is the section prepped:

Was thinking I'd go section by section blasting the rust, roughing up the non-rusted pieces, then priming with POR.  Then some sort of body colored top coat?

Think 1" or so stitch welds will be enough for rally work...or should I do a lot more or complete seam welding?  And also how many spot welds should be done for something like the valence - thought I remembered someone saying every inch or so for those, too...

Thanks guys.



Tacked the rear valence and closing panels in this morning (first panels!  I need practice...):

Baby steps.


Nice.  Every little bit feels good. 


Missed out on a pair of carbon fiber doors yesterday due to an eBay glitch.  Winning bidder might not take them do I may get another shot.  She'll be wicked fast with those!!!  :D

Also saw in the Works book that they fully welded the inner wheel wells, not stitched.  Guess I'll follow suit, even though the welding isn't going so smooth with the gap between the panels and the seam sealer still in there...doesn't look so nice...