Mini Rebuild


Step 1 - The Plan


My goal with this project is to enhance the Mini's well-known positive aspects and minimize the negative.


Positives: Simplicity, great handling, light weight, fun to drive

Negatives: Lack of power, safety, rust-prone, maintenance-intensive


The standard A-series British Leyland four cylinder engine can be tuned to make good power. There is no end to the number of parts availble to hop-up the engine. However, I became very intruiged with the thought of putting a modern motorcycle engine into the car. Here's why:


Highly modified 1275cc A-series motor+transmission: 110-140 hp, 350 lbs, cost $$$$.

2003 Yamaha YZF-R1 998cc motor+transmission: 164 hp, 150 lbs, ~$1000-1500.


More power AND dropping 200lbs off the front end? In a car that when new weighed 1400lbs, that's a significant drop. Plus the R1 motor is totally standard, has a reputation for good reliability, and delivers plenty of smooth, tractable power due in part to modern fuel injection. So the car will be even lighter than stock(!), potentially handling will be improved, and it will be more fun to drive. This builds on all the Mini's good traits and at the same time should attack two of the negatives: lack of power and high maintenance. A couple different kits are offered to make this a plug-and-play deal and I'm currently trying to decide between the two.

To deal with the remaining negatives, I'll be stripping the car down to bare metal and having any rusty panels replaced. Then a good rust-preventative (still researching what's best) followed by a nice paint job. At the moment I'm also planning on having a rollcage fabricated and welded in. I plan to drive the car on the street occasionally so some chassis/suspension mounting point reinforcement might be in order too.


As for the look of the car, I'd like to keep it fairly original - no fender flares, 10" wheels, and all the chrome trim. The interior will also remain close to stock, which is spartan compared to modern carslook of original Mk1's. Compare the two:


Mini Mk1 vs Mk3 interiors

(To get an even better idea what these cars looked like when new, check out this nicely restored MkII for sale here.)


I'll be using modern sport seats and steering wheel. Instrumentation is still up in the air. A tachometer is a must but the look of the R1 unit won't fit in with the rest of the car too well. Still thinking this one through. Other items? The car will be LHD. Conventional seatbelts will be used. Suspension will be converted to coil springs and hi-lo's. Brakes will most likely be KAD 4-pot calipers up front. Debating whether to go with disk brakes in the rear. The windshield will be glass but all other pieces will be in polycarbonate. It seems the hardest thing for me to decide on is the exterior color!










Continue to Rebuild Step 2

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