“The roof and front wings had become crazed - a huge amount of work...”
power, 10- inch wheels with sticky Yokohama tyres went on and a lightweight subframe replacement with Gaz coil- overs was installed at the rear. With an oil cooler cheekily poking out through the front grille and plenty of retro styling cues, it was a good looking car, memorably catching our eye on the London to Brighton run in 2010. But before long, Jonny’s mind was onto the next project. “I decided to strip the car down and break it for bits,” he recalls. “I sold some of the parts on, including the shell, but kept most of the running gear, the subframes and the engine.” Although it seems a shame to have broken up such a happy home, Jonny had his mind set on an even better project to house the leftovers.
An original and rare Mini Minus shell came up for sale in 2010 for a reasonable sum of just £ 900. It was a fair trek to fetch the body from Leeds, but the allure of a rust- free shell, one that’s shortened by three inches in the bodyline and free of external seams, was hard to resist. Production of the car, originally named the ‘ Status Mini Minus’, began in 1982. The concept was designed and developed by ex- Lotus engineers Brian Luff and Keith Lain, with the intention of creating a Mini that would never rust. The fibreglass shells were not necessarily any lighter than a steel version, in fact they often weighed slightly more due to the thickness of the GRP required for strength, but the de- seamed and bodychopped design improved top speed and fuel economy, just like the original Trickett MiniSprint of the ‘ 60s.
“It had been built- up before, but I’m not sure if it had ever been used on the road,” says Jonny. “It’s similar in some ways to a MkI Minus, with the small rear lights, but it has internal door hinges and Mk3- type floor. I think all of the Minus shells must have been a bit different to each other.”
Work began in earnest on the bodywork, which had deteriorated somewhat since the ‘ 80s. “It was a ridiculous amount of work in the end, and I’d never attempted most of it before,” says Jonny. “The finish of the whole roof and the front wings had become crazed, so it took a huge amount of bodywork to get it looking right.” Becoming a real dab- hand with the fibreglass and filler, Jonny gradually repaired,
The classic colour scheme and low, mean stance make this a truly eye- catching creation.