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

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - Richard Dredge

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.

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