ON THE JOB
Sarah Thomas is on a restoration crusade to put the once unloved ‘Little Pig’, her Studio 2, back to its glorious standard.
Sarah Thomas is on a mission to return her Studio 2 to original spec.
This 1991 Studio 2 is Sarah Thomas’s first Mini. In fact, it was bought as a project back in July 2011 by her dad for her youngest brother Alex, the idea being they would work on it together. The Mini was roadworthy, but needed a few repairs. However, Alex wasn’t really interested, so the Mini was left in the garage, rather neglected, until 2013 when Sarah’s dad decided to tidy it up and sell it.
When it was ready to sell, Sarah and her other brother, Robert, decided to buy it. Sadly (or thankfully, depending how you look at it), Robert didn’t like driving it. But Sarah fell in love with it straight away – she knew she had to own it!
This Studio 2 became her daily in September 2013, and quickly earned the name ‘Little Pig’ because it’s little, and “a pig” to work on! With Sarah having no mechanical knowledge, her dad was the one who had to come and rescue her when Little Pig broke down. She remembers often driving to work with a wet floor, because there was a leak, and they were unable to find the source!
In November 2015 Sarah was hit by another car, with Little Pig receiving a bit of damage to the wing around the driver’s side headlight. It was at this point that she decided it should become a weekend toy.
After meeting partner Neil, who owned two Minis (a 1982 and 1984 Mini City), in May 2016, she started going to bigger Mini shows and realised how few Studio 2s were about, and it was then that she made the decision to restore Little Pig to as close to factory standard as possible.
“Whilst on a trip to Whitby the exhaust fell off, and I decided it was time to take it off the road”
What attracted you to this particular Mini in the first place?
Circumstance gave me the opportunity to buy it, and after driving it I just knew I had to own it.
Can you tell me more about this Mini, do you know much of its history?
Unfortunately not. Originally a Studio 2, a previous owner had changed it into a red Cooper replica with alloy wheels and a red and black leather interior. From the MoT records I think this was done in around 1997.
What motivated you to start the rebuild?
At the end of August 2016, whilst on a trip to Whitby, the exhaust fell off and I decided it was time to take it off the road and get started with the restoration. The MoT was due to expire in September and it made sense to SORN and not put it through another MoT.
How far have you got?
Despite a productive start, the restoration was put on the back burner last summer when two of my grandparents became ill and unfortunately passed away. However, the subframes have been stripped down, cleaned up, repainted and put back together. A new floor and crossmember have been welded in, alongside the driver’s side quarter panel, new door steps and A-panels. Work is currently being undertaken to replace the front end, and new inner wings have been fitted.
What is the next job?
To finish the front end. I have just bought a set of wings, so they will be fitted next.
Is there much more bodywork to do, what was it like at the start?
I think the boot floor will need to be replaced,
but hopefully not too much more is needed to make the car solid again. Despite looking pretty solid to begin with, we’ve had to replace a lot of metal! Once the bulk of the bodywork is completed, we’ll get the shell mediablasted to ensure all the rust is removed.
Do you have any worries with the rebuild?
Just the time it’s going to take but hopefully we shouldn’t encounter any more surprises! Finding original Studio 2 interior parts has also been a challenge so I’ve had to purchase things as I find them.
What sort of style are you aiming for with this car?
As close to brochure standard as possible.
Will you keep it in the same colour?
No, it’s going back to its original, Storm Grey.
What wheels are you going to run?
12-inch steel wheels, with Prestige full-width wheel trims.
Are you planning on increasing the power of this Mini?
No, I am keeping the original 998cc engine.
Will you be making any body mods, such as different wheel arch extensions?
No, it will remain as close to factory standard as possible.
Do you think your budget is going to dictate what you’re going to do with the restoration of your Mini?
No, thankfully by doing a lot of the work ourselves (Neil is a welder by trade so is doing much of the work, and my dad will be painting the car), the costs have been kept down. I managed to pick up a full interior for less than £100, so that was definitely a bargain find.
Have you got any ideas for any special parts that you’ll add to this Mini?
No, it will all be standard because of the Studio 2’s rarity!
How often do you plan to use this Mini when it’s done?
As much as I can; it’s been off the road for far too long!
The boot floor will probably need replacing.
It was only once stripped back that all the work became apparent.
The front is a bit of a work-in-progress!
Work is currently underway to replace the front end.
The original 998cc engine is staying.
Little Pig is branded with its own name!
Sarah will be keeping this rare car original.
Currently a red Cooper replica, Sarah is returning this Studio 2 to the original Storm Grey hue.
The new floor is just some of the replacement metal that’s gone in so far.