Upmarket early Minis were graced with a neat factory boot board. Here’s how to fit one to a regular saloon.
Tidy up your boot area with our handy guide to fitting a Cooper-style boot board.
As a production run progresses, many manufacturers add new features to their cars to keep things fresh. Not British Leyland though; having fitted a nice boot board to its Cooper models and 1275 GT, the company bean counters canned the Cooper altogether and deleted the boot board from the GT after only a few years. Subsequent models were bequeathed with a bit of scrappy-looking carpet if you were lucky, and though aftermarket boot liner kits can provide a neat solution, we’re suckers for the OE look.
Fortunately, the bits to retrofit a factory-style boot board are available from Newton Commercial, complete with the necessary metal support brackets. Different boards are available to suit single or twin fuel tanks, and there’s a version for the larger 7.5 gallon tanks fitted to later cars too, so all saloon models right up to 2000 are catered for. There are also four different bracket sets depending on what tank and what width of spare wheel you have, so be sure to select the right type. If in doubt, pick the taller type as this affords more options. The only issue with the taller versions could be clearance with the boot-mounted screen washer bottle fitted to ‘91-on cars, but this should be fairly simple to remedy by making up a small spacer or similar.
To fit the brackets, you’ll need a drill with a 1/8-inch or 3.2mm bit, 1/8-inch or 3.2mm rivets, a rivet gun (preferably with a long nose) and some touch up paint. The brackets can be attached with No8 selftapping screws instead of rivets should you prefer. On cars made after 1966, the two horizontal bulkhead brackets were spot-welded. Such factory welds are very difficult to replicate, but we’ll take that if it means giving those unscrupulous Cooper fakers out there a hard time. Once the brackets are fitted, the board simply slides in place.
You’ll also need to remove the bootlid and the battery, but you shouldn’t need to disturb the fuel tank. Measuring up carefully and taking your time will yield very satisfying results. All the smaller items of clutter can now be hidden below the board, leaving a nice carpeted surface for everything else. Here’s how we kitted out our 1994 Mayfair.
1 Before: One standard boot area. Not overly bad, but a bit messy, especially with a scrap of carpet/vinyl pinched from another car. Clearly room for improvement.
2 Newton Commercial supplies four different types of bracket sets. There are versions to cater for either 5.5 or 7.5 gallon tanks and standard width 145 tyres (usually 10-inch), and two corresponding taller versions for 12-inch wheels and/or 165-section tyres. This pic shows the height difference.
3 Our initial plan was to fit the taller brackets to go with our 6x10-inch alloys. However, the wheel wouldn’t fit in the wheel well with the later 7.5-gallon tank and our bigger-than-stock battery. And yes, this battery does need a proper clamp and cover.
4 Wheel hipsters out there will have a further consideration. Our tyres are 165-section, but the wider six-inch wheel is stretching the tyre a little, and even with a stock battery it would still be slightly too tall for the taller brackets to cope with, as shown here.
5 We also found having the board higher up fouled the boot-mounted washer bottle on out later car. This could be tweaked, but as we only had four alloys anyway, we decided to use the regular height brackets and a steel spare wheel with a 145-section tyre. In our case a 12-inch wheel fitted OK. 6 Because the rear brackets fit to the sunken hinge panel lip and you need to reach the rear seat bulkhead, this job is a lot easier when the boot lid removed. Disconnect the battery, then split the two bullet connections for numberplate lamp wiring.
7 Loosen the four nuts that hold the bootlid to its hinges using a 7/16-inch AF socket, but don’t remove them completely yet.
8 Unscrew the retaining cables from each side of the bootlid using a suitable Pozidriv screwdriver, supporting the bootlid to ensure it doesn’t swing open too far and get damaged. Remove the four nuts fully and remove the bootlid.
9 Later cars will have a boot seal affixed to the body itself. Pull this away at the bottom edge for access to the hinge panel area.
10 We planned to fit the brackets in the factory positions, like on this 1275 GT. This would’ve worked fine with an early 5.5 gallon tank, but our larger left-hand tank meant the left-hand bulkhead and hinge panel brackets had to be closer towards the centre of the car.
11 Measure the aperture between the end of the fuel tank and the right hand lip of the boot opening, and record the half way point. This is the position for the middle of the central bracket, which has the square opening on top for the rubber support buffer. We used masking tape to mark the correct position.
12 The other two rear brackets come pre-shaped to suit. The right-hand one (shown at the top) is more angled to fit flush on the boot floor. This bracket is positioned almost directly behind the boot hinge.
13 The left-hand bracket, meanwhile, is shaped so that the rear leg extends into the deeper wheel well. It may need tweaking with a pair of pliers and some cloth to get the shape correct. Ours needed to be angled slightly to suit, as you can see here.
14 Once you’re happy, the brackets can be colour-coded to suit the car. This is optional of course, but we felt it added to the factory look. Suspend the brackets with some metal wire or similar, and give them a coat of primer. We’d already painted our bulkhead brackets previously.
15 Then apply topcoat. A little patience here will pay dividends. With our charcoal paint the difference is not really that noticeable, but with a brighter car it’s well worth the effort.
16 With the brackets painted, they can now be fitted in place. Run some masking tape along the inner edge of the hinge panel as shown.
17 Use a pencil to mark the position of the holes required.
18 We then used a hammer and punch to gently mark the holes and enable us to locate them easier with the drill. Don’t hit too hard!
19 We opted to drill from the inside, using a 1/8-inch drill bit.
20 De-burr the holes afterwards to avoid any nasty sharp edges.
21 We used the recommended 1/8-inch rivets to hold our brackets on, choosing stainless ones to prevent future corrosion.
22 With the rivets in the sunken hinge panel lip pushed through the holes to locate the bracket, we marked and drilled the remaining holes.
23 Remove the bracket once again so that you can apply some paint on the holes. This will also help to prevent future corrosion.
24 Rivet the bracket in place, then repeat the process for the remaining two rear brackets.
25 Insert the large rubber support buffer into the central bracket and secure the clevis pin.
26 Fit the two supplied rubber bungs into the top of the remaining rear brackets.
27 With the spare wheel in position, place a 1/2inch thick block of wood across the tyre and line up the board. It should be level, but if not adjust it until you are satisfied. Apply some masking tape to the bulkhead.
28 Position the two brackets onto the board and lay the boot board in position. Mark the position of the brackets along the top and sides. Due to the angle of the bracket, they can only go on in one orientation, but the left-hand one needs to be more inboard if you have the later fuel tank.
29 The right-hand bracket is best on the second rib right of the centre, while our left one has to go on the first rib left of centre. Mark and drill the three holes. Remove the battery to get the drill at the correct perpendicular angle if you haven’t already.
30 Next, we hit upon a snag. A regular rivet gun wont fit into the bracket. You need a pop rivet gun with a longer nose, or if you’re feeling brave, could very carefully modify a cheaper one with a grinder.
31 For now, we decided to rivet them from inside the car, so the back seat backrest needed removing. You’ll need an assistant to hold the bracket in place if using this method.
32 We were happy the rivets didn’t protrude through enough to affect fitment of the boot board, but longer rivets may cause an issue.
33 Fit the metal retaining clip for the boot board in its position on the centre rear bracket. Then fit the boot board itself in position. Using self grip pliers, clamp the retaining bracket to the boot board as shown.
34 Mark the position of the holes, then drill some holes for the retaining screws, being careful not to go through the board! Screw the clip on using suitable self-tapping screws shorter than the thickness of the board.
35 Refit the board to the car. You may need a little lubricant to ensure the retaining clip engages with the rubber support buffer on the centre rear bracket.
36 Here’s the finished boot board installation. Now all that remains is to refit the boot seal and the bootlid, and that’s job done. Cooper OE-style brought to the masses.
COST Boot board £80.40, bracket kit £94.96 CONTACT Newton Commercial, 01728 832880, www.newtoncomm.co.uk DIFFICULTY