In November 2004 I purchased a 1990 Mini City E. This purchase came as some surprise to those that knew me as I had a tendency to own large powerful cars with big engines and various 'sport' options as standard.
The Mini certainly did not fit into this category. It had a 998cc engine and came with no optional extras, sporty or otherwise. In fact it had less features than your bog standard saloon sold on any forecourt over the last decade. The Mini, or classic Mini as it is now known since BMW introduced the Mini One, had just the essential features of a car with the necessary requirements to meet passenger safety standards.
So why buy one? Well my original reason was knowledge. Over the years my father had tried to teach me how to work on my own vehicles but I did not take to it like I had to computers and so I learned the basics only. Basic skills such as how to do an oil change, change the air filter, check the brake and clutch fluid and clean the inside of a distributor cap and spark plugs to solve weak spark problems. Any other problems were fixed by my father if I was home or the cheapest garage I could find if not. So by buying a Mini I could learn how to work on cars. That was my theory anyway. The fact that the Mini was as basic a car as you could get with no fancy electronic gizmos and an engine that I was vaguely familiar with after owning an A-series before, sealed the deal. Besides, after reading up on Mini's I decided that it might be fun to own one.
I persuaded a colleague who was a Mini enthusiast to give the car the once over before I bought it. I took it for a test drive and immediately thought that it felt like I was driving a go-kart on the streets. There was no power steering and it felt like you were in a tin can but the grin factor was there. It felt like it was going fast at the speed limits! Hopefully that meant I can enjoy driving the car with less a chance of loosing my license. Something I felt was always possible when owning bigger powerful cars.
So there you go. I bought the Mini and it became my day-to-day car for everyday use and traveling to and from work. Well, that was one reason. Car insurance usually states something along the lines of 'for social domestic and pleasure and for traveling to and from one place of permanent employment'. It does not say for traveling the length and breadth of the British Isles which is another reason I wanted the Mini. Fuel economy.
The 998cc Mini City E will do somewhere between 42-55mpg. This is with no modifications and a car in a good state of health with clean filters and running on unleaded petrol. I tend to prefer Shell. With high fuel prices in Great Britain, a car that does good on fuel consumption is a must if you do a lot of traveling and you can not get much better than a 1 litre Mini. And I do like to travel.
So there you have it. My main reasons for owning a Mini were to learn how to work on cars and to be able to travel around Great Britain and possibly Europe, cheaply. There are of course other reasons to own such a car such as cheap car tax (small engine), cheap insurance (group 1 with no mods), easy to park and able to go places that a full size car cannot, cheap parts (and lots of stockists due to popularity of the car) and easy to customize should you wish.
Anyway, those are my reasons for owning a Mini. What are these pages about? They record my progress as I attempt to restore the car to its former glory, de-badge it from being a Mini City to just a Mini and then customize it to suit my own tastes. I may even modify it at some point, possibly adding a stage 1 kit and some decent shocks, wheels and arches. We will see.
I hope you enjoy reading about my Mini project. However please bear in mind that I am a complete amateur when it comes to cars and what I write and do here is how I myself approach things and I am not recommending that you do what I do to your own car. If you are undertaking a similar project or have already completed one and you wish to get in touch then you can drop me an email if you wish. I'd love to hear from fellow Mini owners who are doing something similar.
Why not read the classic Mini FAQ for the answers to the questions that I am asked the most.
Summary of work carried out so far:
- Fitted new fan belt
- Fitted new rear brake pipes, cylinders and brake shoes. Bled the system
- Vented N/S/O/F sill
- Had wiring sorted
- Welded N/S inner sill and treated underside
- Welded front of door window frames (both sides)
- Treated rust and primed front of car
- Repaired Screen wash reservoir bottle
- Fixed rear fog light
- Had O/S wheel bearing replaced
- Oil and oil filter change
- Removed decals from paint work
- Fitted door seals
- Fitted gaskets to rear light units
- Resprayed front of car, fitted new chrome bumper, grill and indicator lenses
- Resprayed rear of car, fitted chrome bumper
- Treated rear wheel arches
- Removed, treated and resprayed all wheel arches and pot-rivetted them back on
- Fitted waterproof membranes to the inside of the two doors
- Replaced rocker cover with chrome cover
- Replaced rear subframe
- Fitted Adjusta-rides and KYB gas dampers to the rear subframe
- Fitted new brake pipes and bled system
- Fitted a new fuel line
- New O/S front wing, a-panel and new full scuttle panel
- Rust removed from bodywork
- New paint job
- New rear fog light
- Cut fuel line to size
- Converted bonnet release mechanism from external to internal
- Treated and protected sills
- Replaced air filter element
- Cleaned distributor contacts and set spark plug electrode gap
- Replaced the front wheel bearings
- Fitted passenger side door mirror
- Fitted the correct front Mini seatbelt stalks
- Fitted a replacement rear seatbelt retainer
- Replaced rear wheel bearings
- Replaced steering rack gaiters and lubricated steering rack
- Fitted front adjustable suspension
- Solved blowing exhaust problem
- Fitted alloy wheels
- Fixed front O/S disc brake dust cover
- Fitted Group 2 wheel arches and side trims
- Drivers O/S door seal sill repair
- Replaced windscreen washer pipes and jet heads
- More welding of holes for MOT
- Adjusting the handbrake cable and tension adjuster
- Sorting window winder jam
- Car door window frame welding
- Replacing the FAM7821 brake limiter valve
- Vacuum advance distributor pipe repair
- Fitted a stage 1 kit
- Replaced the radiator and repaired the water cooling system