ES­TATE OF MINE

With great looks and 1330 power, Ian West’s Clubby Es­tate is a great all-rounder.

Mini Magazine - - Contents - Words Mar­tyn Jones Pho­tog­ra­phy Ger­ard Hughes

Opin­ion was some­what di­vided when Bri­tish Ley­land con­tro­ver­sially in­tro­duced the longer and squarenosed Club­man model in the au­tumn of 1969. But for what was once very much a Mar­mite car, the turn­around in its for­tunes has been re­mark­able. The Club­man and its sporty 1275 GT sta­ble­mate have prob­a­bly been highly sought-af­ter for longer than they haven’t nowa­days, es­pe­cially the ear­lier cars. And if that early car hap­pens to be an Es­tate, it comes with added cool and us­abil­ity.

Ian ‘Westy’ West is clearly a fan. The M4 Minis mem­ber from south east Wales is the lucky owner of this cus­tom ‘71 Es­tate, which is his first Club­man. It’s not his first Mini though. “I went to Bris­tol Mini Day with a friend,” he ex­plains. “I was a van driver at the time and took my van to pick up some spares for him. He let me have a drive of his Stu­dio 2 around the show field. I was hooked. Two

weeks later I bought that Mini from him. I turned it into a kind of Cooper replica, in Old English White, with a black vinyl roof.”

BACK TO THE FU­TURE

The Cooper-es­que cre­ation Mini served Ian well, un­til he de­cided he needed some­thing a lit­tle more com­fort­able for the daily drive. “My commute was 30 miles of mo­tor­way, so I sold the Mini to a friend and bought one of the very first MINI Coop­ers,” re­calls Ian. “A lit­tle while later, my wife and I moved from Chep­stow to New­port, as did my work. As a re­sult, my commute was now very short: just three miles. That was one of the rea­sons I started think­ing about buy­ing a clas­sic Mini again. Around the same time, the friend who I’d sold the white Mini to vis­ited me. I had to get my MINI out of the drive, and to do so, I had to move his...”

That mere shunt­ing around of cars was all Ian needed for a clas­sic Mini re-awak­en­ing, and he be­gan to rue the day he sold his. In­deed, it re­sulted in him hot-foot­ing it to Min­i­mart near Not­ting­ham, where he swapped his MINI for a Tahiti Blue MPi clas­sic. “This was back in 2003. I’d only owned the MINI for eigh­teen months,” re­flects Ian. “It was a very nice car, but I felt much hap­pier be­hind the wheel of the MPi. I kept it un­til 2011 in fact, and did a lot of miles in it. I only sold it be­cause I needed some­thing more modern for daily use again. It was bought by an ec­cen­tric Bri­tish guy liv­ing over­seas. Ap­par­ently, he had around 40 Minis, and also bought and sold them.”

SELLER’S RE­MORSE

Al­though the MPi had sold, Ian was pin­ing for a clas­sic Mini again be­fore it had even been col­lected! Not a daily driver this time, but one which he and his wife could use for high days and hol­i­days. Hav­ing owned two sa­loons, Ian fan­cied some­thing dif­fer­ent,

““It was on 12-inch Dun­lop D1 al­loys, which look great on a Club­man...”

and was con­sid­er­ing a van or pos­si­bly a Pick-up. But then he got chat­ting to a pal.

“This par­tic­u­lar friend used to help me work on my Minis, and he ad­vised me not to buy a van or a Pick-up,” elab­o­rates Ian. “His rea­sons were that the Pick-up wasn’t prac­ti­cal for putting stuff in the back, plus they are a bit claus­tro­pho­bic, and that vans, cer­tainly good ones any­way, fetch big money. In­stead, he sug­gested I look for a Club­man Es­tate.”

That got Ian think­ing, and sub­se­quently look­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, he couldn’t find one, de­spite scour­ing eBay, Auto Trader, Pis­ton­heads – ev­ery­where in fact. But then he had a spot of luck. “I was search­ing on Google, and spot­ted an ad­vert for a 1971 Club­man Es­tate. It seemed like a de­cent enough car, so I bought it. Cut­ting a longish story short, I drove the MPi to Broms­grove, which was where its new owner had ar­ranged for it to be col­lected, and also where I was go­ing to col­lect the Club­man Es­tate. Sur­pris­ingly, ev­ery­thing went very smoothly.”

Even so, Ian was a tad dis­ap­pointed by the Club­man’s con­di­tion. The bon­net had a large hole in the front lip, there was some rust here and there, and the in­te­rior trim, what there was of it, was not in the best of con­di­tion ei­ther. How­ever, the car was solid enough over­all, in­clud­ing the sills, and the spec­i­fi­ca­tion was pretty good too. What’s more, it was the right price. Any­way, Ian had a plan. He was go­ing to use it for a few years, then have it re­stored and im­proved with a few per­sonal touches.

“It was on 12-inch Dun­lop D1 al­loys, which look great on a Club­man,” Ian con­tin­ues, “and the en­gine had been swapped for a 1330 with a 276 cam, so the per­for­mance was good. I ti­died the shell

and in­te­rior, made the car road­wor­thy, and used it like this un­til mid-2015. That’s when it de­vel­oped an en­gine prob­lem.”

EX­PERT HELP

Keen to get a top-qual­ity job done, Ian had no he­si­ta­tion in tak­ing the Club­man to Ross Thomas. Known as a first-rate clas­sic car re­storer and en­gine builder, Ross owns and runs Thomas Clas­sic and Modern in Cwm­bran. He’s also an avid clas­sic Mini en­thu­si­ast, run­ning a 1980 Mini that was first fea­tured in Mini Mag­a­zine when Ross was a teenager in 1997, and now boasts a wild seven-port mo­tor. So to say that Ross knows his way around a clas­sic Mini is some­thing of an un­der­state­ment!

“Ross re­placed the head for me, due to valve dam­age,” says Ian. “I then ran the car un­til mid-way through 2016, which was when I took it back to Ross for more work to be done. This was part of my mas­ter plan.

“He gave the bot­tom end a freshen-up and I’d also asked him to look at the gear­box, as it had de­vel­oped an oil leak,” adds Ian. “What he dis­cov­ered wasn’t good. The leak was a mi­nor is­sue. Ross rang to say that the gear­box was a mish-mash of Metro and Mini parts and was held to­gether with hopes and dreams! I’ve al­ways liked the sound of straight-cut Mini gear­boxes, so I asked him to re­build it with straight-cut drop gears and a taller 2.9 fi­nal drive ra­tio. It works per­fectly, cruises much bet­ter, and sounds fab­u­lous.”

With the me­chan­i­cals sorted, it was time to tackle the body­work, which was now look­ing rather care­worn. “It was a strange or­angery-red, fad­ing in places, and peel­ing too,” says Ian. “I power-washed the rear doors and was dis­mayed to see large flakes of wood ef­fect vinyl fly­ing off!”

Not only was the wood trim mak­ing a bid for free­dom and the paint­work past its best, cor­ro­sion was also an is­sue. “There were a few small holes in the footwells, larger holes in the spare wheel well, the door bot­toms were scabby and so were the rear quar­ters,” Ian ex­plains. “The rear doors weren’t par­tic­u­larly good ei­ther. Ross fit­ted new Her­itage rear doors and a bon­net, and cut out all of the cor­roded metal and re­placed with new. The pas­sen­ger door was also

The colour is the orig­i­nal Flame Red shade, and it looks great with the con­trast­ing de­tail­ing.

Retro wing mir­rors and P700-style head­lamps.

Ex­tra prac­ti­cal­ity for Mini trips!

Ian didn’t last long with­out a Mini!

The bril­liantly pre­sented 1330 en­gine has been fully re­built and sits atop a straight-cut gear­box.

Black grille with red de­tail­ing adds a neat twist to the Club­man front end.

Neatly re­fur­bished roof rack.

Comfy front seats and red seat­belts add a modern touch.

Mini 1100 Spe­cial con­sole and pe­riod ra­dio.

Neat black wood ef­fect for the sides and the dash.

The orig­i­nal steer­ing wheel was re­fit­ted.

MX5 seats were al­ready mod­i­fied to suit a Mini.

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