OUR MINIS

Jeroen is forced to re­think his body­work plans, and tracks down a rare rad...

Mini Magazine - - Contents -

The lat­est from our Mini fleet, this time fea­tur­ing Jeroen, Stephen and Neil.

You may re­mem­ber that last year I teamed up with Seven­ties Car Restora­tion in York­shire to fully re­store and paint the Mini Mar­cos shell. I couldn’t af­ford to pay the full price so we made a deal, but they ended up run­ning be­hind on other (bud­geted) projects so there was no time for the Mar­cos any time soon. I de­cided it might be bet­ter to pick it up and ar­range some­thing more lo­cal, so I booked a night cross­ing from Rot­ter­dam to Hull and got back on the same ferry the next night, with the Mar­cos in my trailer be­hind me. Mean­while, I’d made ar­range­ments with some­body else to re­pair the body, fit the roll-cage and pre­pare it for paint­ing.

And so, af­ter many months, the fi­bre­glass work fi­nally com­menced. The holes were tack­led first and the much-butchered bat­tery box was even­tu­ally re-made, af­ter what turned out to be a bit of a puz­zle fig­ur­ing out how the bat­tery was placed in the car. Ini­tially we thought it was east-west, but it turned out to be lon­gi­tu­di­nal, as it would have con­flicted with the rear sub­frame. The holes fit in with straps

to se­cure the bat­tery. The front, with its much-mod­i­fied bon­net, is also un­der re­pair now, with two more sep­a­rated bits be­ing re-used and fit­ting in per­fectly. I de­liv­ered the petrol tank and front screen in or­der to make the body ready for these, too.

Next, the car’s rather un­usual dou­ble-skinned floors, with balsa wood in be­tween the two lay­ers, came un­der scru­tiny. It was used on very few MkI com­pe­ti­tion cars to give the thin bod­ies more strength. But since the top skin of my floors had also been

re­moved at some stage (prob­a­bly be­cause they got wa­ter logged), they need new balsa core wood and a new top layer of mat­ting over them. My handy­man started to clean things up and no­ticed un­usual slightly raised bands run­ning di­ag­o­nally over both sides of the floor. Cut­ting away the top layer re­vealed that they hide steel strips, topped with sim­i­lar balsa wood strips, which have been fi­bre­glassed in. The steel was in a sorry state and the wood had turned into dust! No prob­lem for this crafts­man, though.

He took out all the cor­roded steel, made new steel and balsa wood strips to mea­sure, and is ready to fi­bre­glass them in. He de­cided to have the wood lac­quered be­fore mat­ting them in, so they will last longer, but since the key to this restora­tion is orig­i­nal­ity it will be kept just like it was back in 1966.

Although the search for rare parts needed to build this car up con­tin­ues, I’m happy to re­port that I now have the car’s orig­i­nal front ra­di­a­tor. The car was raced at Le Mans with an ex­tra ra­di­a­tor fit­ted in the front, and ru­mour was that this part had sur­vived over 50 years! It took some time to ac­tu­ally track it down. José Al­ber­tini, who owned the car in 1970, told me he took it from the car at the time and kept it for many years be­fore sell­ing it to Italy. There, this piece of Le Mans her­itage ended up on an­other Mini Mar­cos. But which one, and where it was now? Even­tu­ally I tracked it down in Ox­ford­shire, UK, and con­tacted its owner, Mar­tyn Spurrell. He knew all about the un­usual rad and told me he’d taken it off to re­place it with a more up-to-date one. For­tu­nately, he’d kept it, and af­ter José con­firmed that the im­ages he sent were in­deed the orig­i­nal ra­di­a­tor for my car, I agreed on a price and when he was in The Nether­lands in April I picked it up. It’s a pur­pose­built rad that ap­pears to have stood the test of time. I’ll of course test it for leaks and re­fur­bish it, though, to make it ready to be re­mounted af­ter all these years!

“The steel was in a sorry state and the wood had turned into dust”

In its new Dutch work­shop.

On its trip from Hull back to The Nether­lands.

Bat­tery Box re­paired.

Dou­ble-skinned floors were hous­ing un­usual steel strips.

The orig­i­nal front ra­di­a­tor.

Body re­pair in fi­bre­glass.

Be­ing raced at Le Mans with an ex­tra rad fit­ted up front.

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