Any Mini is worth upgrading, even if it’s just in a few small ways. But if you have the budget, the sky’s the limit for the tiny all-time great
If ever there has been a car more mod-friendly than the Mini, we haven’t driven it yet. During the 1960s, an entire industry sprang up around the Issigonis wonder to offer modifications for every aspect of this giant killer. In the early days the focus was on traditional tuning methods such as big-bore exhausts, increased fuelling and gas-flowed cylinder heads but it didn’t take long for costlier and more extreme modifications to be adopted as the Mini gained a serious foothold in many forms of motorsport.
The easiest way of improving power and torque is to swap your old 848cc or 998cc A- Series engine for a 1275cc unit, which slots straight in. However, to keep things as straightforward as possible you’re better off using the associated transmission too, especially if you’re mixing gearchange types. There was a remote alloy housing until 1973 when things changed to a rod setup; converting between the two is possible but components cannot be interchanged.
If your start point is a 1275cc unit you’re into the realms of having to upgrade the fuelling, improve the breathing or update the ignition but if you’re keen to retain the smaller engine, there’s still plenty you can do.
For the ultimate, though, how about a Stage 4 1380cc engine, ready to drop straight in (without ancillaries) and available off the shelf for around £3500?
Some of the options not covered here include a five-speed gearbox (at around £3500), camshafts (there are dozens to choose from, depending on how the car will be used) and interior trim/exterior styling upgrades (these could fill a book on their own).
Indeed, there are so many traders offering such a lot of parts in various configurations that we can only scratch the surface here. We’ve also assumed you’re buying new parts because there are so many available.
However, the Mini’s raison d’être has always been cheap fun and it’s still possible to make significant improvements to these cars without spending a fortune. Join a club, make some friends and you’ll be able to access all sorts of used parts at keen prices, enabling you to pep up your Mini without the need to dig deep.