ON THE JOB

This smooth roof Coun­try­man is Peter Humphries’ fourth Mini, and it was pre­vi­ously fit­ted with a Peu­geot diesel en­gine!

Mini Magazine - - Contents - Words Mar­tyn Collins Pho­tog­ra­phy Matt Richard­son

The story of Peter Humphries smooth-roof Coun­try­man, pre­vi­ously boast­ing Peu­geot power.

Peter’s first Mini was a white 1989 Mary Quant De­signer edi­tion, bought for £100 to learn to drive in when he was 18. He spent an­other £100 get­ting it through an MoT then, while he was at uni, his mum over­heated the en­gine, warped the head, and it ended up be­ing sold to a scrap yard for just £10.

It was only then that Peter re­alised how much he liked Mi­nis and he bought an­other - a 1979 Pageant Blue 850 Su­per Deluxe. It was given a 998 en­gine trans­plant due to a cracked sub­frame and he drove it every day for three-years un­til its re­li­a­bil­ity got on his nerves. Al­though he’s al­ways re­gret­ted sell­ing it.

Then a 1969 MkIII came from a friend. Peter started to learn how to weld on it but soon re­alised he would be bet­ter off with a road-wor­thy Mini he could tweak. That’s when he bought his An­te­lope Beige 1970 MkIII, which he’s still very at­tached to.

Peter now has a garage which he’s filled with Mi­nis and parts over the past fouryears. His cur­rent fleet in­cludes a 1975 Club­man called Ed with a DIY Toy­ota MR2 en­gine con­ver­sion and a one-owner 1972 Aqua MkIII that needs full resto.

This Coun­try­man cropped up on Face­book, owned by an old uni friend of Peter’s. He’d al­ways wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent and this seemed in­ter­est­ing, es­pe­cially as it’s a MkI - al­though it needed a lot of work! Still, he was af­ter a project and knew it was a rare model, so would be worth the ef­fort. A price was agreed over the phone, a low loader was booked, and it was col­lected one week later.

What first at­tracted you to this par­tic­u­lar Mini?

I al­ways wanted a MkI Mini with the ex­ter­nal hinges and slid­ing win­dows, plus I also fan­cied a van — to me this was the best of both. With fold­ing seats and a smooth roof I knew it was rare and worth putting some money into. It was also a blank can­vas, and I wanted a project Mini that I could re­store and build from the ground up, which is some­thing I hadn’t done yet.

Can you tell me more about this Mini, do you know much of its his­tory?

I don’t know a great deal of its his­tory, but Gary, who sold me the car, ex­plained that a pre­vi­ous owner had in­stalled a 1.6 Peu­geot diesel en­gine in it. It had about 20 ran­dom holes in the bulk­head and the rear wheel well had been cut out and flat plated to al­low for a larger ex­haust box. It’s had lots of own­ers and a very che­quered past.

What was the push that got you start­ing to re­build it?

For some rea­son I was itch­ing to get work­ing on it — de­spite hav­ing other projects al­ready wait­ing! Maybe it’s be­cause it’s the old­est Mini I own, and it clearly needed some love!

How far have you got?

Over the past 18 months I have re­placed or re­paired al­most every panel be­low the waist, and a few above as well. I have learnt a lot about how th­ese cars were as­sem­bled at the fac­tory and find the con­struc­tion of the shell very in­ter­est­ing. There are a lot of quirky bits about the MkI shells and I like see­ing the changes. M-Ma­chine has been my main source of pan­els, and Doreen has very help­ful with sourc­ing all the pan­els and re­pair sec­tions I have needed.

It’s had two Her­itage in­ner and outer wings, a scut­tle panel, an M-Ma­chine mod­i­fied MkI front panel, com­pete M-Ma­chine floor, rear Her­itage arches, rear valance and all the as­so­ci­ated clos­ing pan­els. It also needed to have half the bulk­head re­placed due to it be­ing hacked to pieces by a pre­vi­ous owner. I sourced this, as a sec­ond-hand panel from an early MkIII. The other panel I was wor­ried I wouldn’t be able to source, was the boot floor with the wheel well. This panel is the same as a Club­man es­tate and I was lucky to find a guy in Ash­ford who had one in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion that I bought for £30 — it was the miss­ing piece of the puz­zle!

As it stands, I have a few holes to weld up and it’s ready to go to the body shop. I just got car­ried away and had that clas­sic is­sue of where do you stop. I didn’t want to lose the orig­i­nal­ity of the car, but there were so many pan­els that just needed re­plac­ing.

What is the next job?

Once it goes off to the body shop, I next plan to build up the en­gine and re­store some wheels.

What was it like at the start?

It was a mess and had no front end. The roof and doors looked good, but I soon re­alised that was about it. I built a DIY spit to help fit the floor and this worked great when it came to stone-chip­ping and paint­ing the un­der­side. I did all this my­self as I knew the body shop wouldn’t have ac­cess.

Will you keep it in the orig­i­nal colour?

There are parts of the in­te­rior met­al­work that still show the orig­i­nal colour of WT3

Old English White, so that’s what it’s go­ing back to. I just hope I like it, as it wouldn’t nor­mally be my first choice. How­ever, I think it should be done in a colour from that time.

Do you have any wor­ries with this re­build?

I’m wor­ried I will hate the colour! As men­tioned ear­lier, it’s go­ing to be WT3, which is the orig­i­nal Old English White and it’s very creamy. When I did the floor, I got a bit of a shock at how yel­lowy it looked. I also know that find­ing some of the MkI parts will be tricky. It didn’t come with much, but I’ve man­aged to get a heater, wiper mo­tor and switch panel al­ready.

What sort of style are you aim­ing for with this car?

I want it to be re­ally sim­ple look­ing and as close to how it would have looked back in ‘61 as pos­si­ble, but with a hint of per­for­mance in the pe­riod wheels.

What wheels are you go­ing to run?

Who knows... I have ac­crued a va­ri­ety of 10-inch wheels that I like the look of. I’m torn be­tween Dun­lop D1s, Rostyle steels or some Euro­pean GKN wheels that I picked up re­cently. They will be 4.5- or 5-inch by 10-inches. I won’t be putting any arches on the car, so I’ll have to try them all out to see which ones sit best in­side the arch.

Have you made any mod­i­fi­ca­tions over stan­dard, or will you be mak­ing any?

I’ll be in­stalling a big­ger en­gine as I’m build­ing a 1310 block up in­stead of the orig­i­nal 850 (which I do have). It won’t there­fore have a magic wand stick ei­ther as I’ll prob­a­bly fit a rod change ‘box. It has Hi-Los and 1.5-de­gree neg­a­tive cam­ber bot­tom arms. I’ll fit some 7.5-inch disc brakes as well. Other than that though, it will be pretty stan­dard. Any other add ons I de­cide to fit will be from the same pe­riod.

Do you think your bud­get is go­ing to dic­tate what you’re go­ing to do with this Mini?

It will. I haven’t spared any ex­pense on the pan­els and it will be painted pro­fes­sion­ally. How­ever, I’m not in to pay­ing silly prices for rare MkI parts, so if I have to go for al­ter­na­tives or re­store old bits, I will. I like Patina and I don’t want it to look too shiny when it’s done - I want the fin­ished car to look like it’s had a life.

Have you got any ideas for any other spe­cial parts that you’ll fit to this Mini?

Well, it’s a Coun­try­man and most of them came with wood trim on the back, how­ever there were some cus­tomers who spec­i­fied them with­out and I’m pretty sure I’m go­ing to leave the wood off. I don’t like the full wood look, but as a com­pro­mise I would like to make a be­spoke rear win­dow frame from Ash. It will be a di­rect re­place­ment for the stan­dard Club­man es­tate metal win­dow frame and I think it will give it a more sub­tle look than the full wood trim. I do a bit of wood­work­ing so will en­joy do­ing this bit, I’ll prob­a­bly tie it in with a match­ing wood steer­ing wheel as well.

How of­ten do you plan to use this Mini when it’s done?

I’ll have to share the time with my other Mini, but I’ll prob­a­bly get it out once a week and more so when the weather is nice. It will come along to the lo­cal shows. I nor­mally get along to dozen or so each year, al­though I reckon it will be an­other year or two un­til it’s ready.

The smooth roof and doors were the only solid parts. A work in progress, this Clubby will be WT3 Old English White once fin­ished.

Ex­ter­nal hinges a mark of the Mk1. Peter is opt­ing for 10-inch pe­riod wheels. Peter is work­ing on a 1310 block which will even­tu­ally re­side in here! Var­i­ous parts are ready to go in!

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