Bold steps on project VXR as the first coats of Bronze Yellow go down.
Last month’s instalment left with the promise of fuel tank and swirl tank pics, so firstly an apology as I have neither of those. Dad seems to have got a little carried away with the tin of Bronze Yellow and started the respray instead. He opted for Cellulose paint as opposed to twopack, as the latter is pretty nasty to your insides, costs more and doesn’t tend to give an authentic ‘70s finish.
Spraying two-pack requires an airfed mask to avoid breathing in a lung full of isocyanates. I read recently that pro paint sprayers are said to have around 90 per cent more chance of getting asthma than Joe Public! That’s not to say Cellulose is friendly stuff either, and strictly it can only be supplied to classic car restorers, for industrial use or compressed into an aerosol can. Basically, just be careful if you’re DIY paint spraying at home.
First up was a coat of epoxy primer to the now-stripped interior and bulkhead. It made sense to sort these bits first as the subframe, brake lines and Super Mario plumbing were all out of the way. It’s going to be carpeted and trimmed inside, so the interior made a good place to practice ahead of the more critical exterior repaint.
With the first coat of Bronze Yellow came an e-mail asking whether I’d got it right, and if it looked too much like an AA van. Thinking of the original ‘60s AA Minivans, he’s got a point, but then again they look pretty cool. Once all the black and chrome detailing goes back on, it’ll look awesome.
Keen to crack on, and with the IMM deadline just months away now, next up was to reinstall the pedal box. It’s a regular Mini set-up with a pair of aftermarket master cylinders welded
on the front and remote fluid reservoirs up top. The Vauxhall gearbox runs a hydraulic clutch like a Mini, which helps, it’s just that there’s no space on the bulkhead for regular master cylinders. All that looks pretty neat and functional.
Over on the passenger side, Dad got to work installing a remote brake servo, similar to the original Cooper S type. I’ve never found much need for a servo myself on a Mini, you just push the pedal harder, although I’m not running anywhere near 300bhp. With the servo in place he could begin making up a set of Kunifer brake pipes from there to the pedal box and back along the floor to the rear drums. There’s a similar solid pipe neatly fed around the front subframe with a union near the back in case the subframe needs to come out again. An adjustable bias valve also sits on the rear section to balance the rear brakes with the fronts.
Obviously it needed some flexible lines too, from the cylinders to the reservoirs and from the subframe to the callipers. For this he popped over to Car Builder Solutions and ordered up a ‘build your own’ stainless steel braided line kit. It works out a tad cheaper than buying custom-made hoses, but the main advantage is in having a spare reel of brake line and extra fittings in the garage for future amendments. From experience, it’s a bit late once you’ve paid for custom hoses in slightly the wrong length.
Finally this month, attention turned to the engine/gearbox mounts. The original Astra mounts are huge lumps of cast aluminium with integral rubber bushes that would consume most of the engine bay. Vauxhall probably spent much time and effort to refine the mounts and heavily reduce noise and vibrations, but this is a fun weekend toy, and a Mini after all, so they were overkill. Instead some Land Rover gearbox bushes and custom steel mounts were deemed far more suitable for the compact install. As space is so tight around the engine, the bushes were uprated to a set of polyurethane versions from DuraFlex. Hopefully that’ll reduce the engine movement enough to avoid any contact with the very nearby bodywork. Next to reinstall will be the gear linkage, which looks suspiciously close to the handbrake for good measure. More fettling ahead then…
“I’ve never found much need for a servo, though I’m not running 300bhp...”
Bronzed beauty or roadside recovery? The yellow may take some getting used to.
With the interior sprayed up, the exterior has been primered.
Carpet will hide all sins inside, so it was a good place to start.
Pedal box is based on a regular Mini unit, with master cylinders attached to the top to save space in the engine bay.
And there’s also a remote Cooper S style brake servo under there.
DIY brake line kit from Car Builder Solutions.
Remote fluid reservoirs for the brake and clutch cylinders.
The finished flexi lines look great.
The rigid pipes have been safely secured under the dash shelf.