Someone Else's Problem: 1989 Mini - Andeh's notactuallyaCooper


is teahte tbungafloed
Oct 23, 2007
Cumbria, UK
Fiestas, Mondeos, Anglia, Austin 7, Corsair, Chrys
It's been a whole year since I bought the Suzuki X-90, and I was getting the itch again. At the same time the COVID situation has seen my weekly mileage plummet from ~400 miles for work to 0 as I work from home. As such my summer commuter, the NC MX-5 has just been laid up the shed. Which made me think, that really, it was perhaps time to let it go before the value drops any more. (It's currently for sale, hopefully it'll shift soon).

The MX-5 was always a stop gap while I intended to build a classic Mini, and despite having a really good shell and donor a few years ago I realised I'd never have the time to actually put the two together, so sold both in 2018 and vowed I'd buy a complete car someday.

I've spent the last couple of months looking for a decent spec Mini, Riley Elf or even a Hillman Imp to little avail. On Sunday I got a call from a friend saying he'd spotted a Mini the next village down from me for sale on the side of the road - a couple of hours later and it was mine.


What it should look like

It's a 1989 'Rose' which was originally white with a pink roof, but is now a Vauxhall Metallic red with a Mercedes white roof, and plenty of Cooper graphics to reinforce the look. The interior is nearly all from a Mini '30' apart from the wooden dash from a later car. It has a 1275 engine from an MG Metro fitted, good for approximately 72hp, front discs and finned alloy rear drums. The bodywork is presentable, of course it's had its share of welding like any Mini, and if I'm being picky it's somewhat of a 5ft paintjob. Not a show car, but a good honest driver and plenty solid enough for summer commuting, which is my intended use - if I ever go back to the office that is. The price was also very favourable for the spec of the car.


How it does look, thankfully






Yes, all the engine bay chrome & yellow combo is hideous, but you can't account for the previous owner's taste... Same with the twin fart cannons out back, too loud, too low and too ugly for me.

It was rebuilt in its current form in 2014 and has done barely 1500 miles since, so needless to say it needs a little love to get to full health. Just a good run with fresh fuel last night saw it running smoother with each mile however, so I'm hopeful it'll be sweet as a nut soon. Planning to give it a thorough check over and service as soon as the weather is favourable, because of cause it's pouring down currently in Northern England, in August.

I don't plan to mod it much as it's already the fast road spec I wanted from a Mini. I think I'll get some new bumpers, wipers, few bits of interior trim and just enjoy it as is for now. Oh, and a rev-counter, I'd really like to know what it's doing. New number plates are already on my desk, just waiting for the weather!


Period correct plates, because I'm a plate geek.

I won't sum up the driving experience, but I've driven a handful of classic Minis and find they are the most fun you can have while cornering. Every cliche is true, and the nice engine in this one just helps the whole package.
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I'll just leave this here:
Me and MWF discussed what Minis we like and if I remember rightly we both like this style of Mini. If it could ever feel anything about its appearance I suspect it would feel better about it than when it left the factory.

I'll just leave this here:

That thing is a monster, I like it a lot. However if we're playing that game I'll leave this here too. :tease:

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Very cool! Having never driven or been near the Austin Mini, I will have to take your word for it.

I drove @D-Fence‘s mini last ringmeet so my bias is toward that one because it drove so nice.

Either way, congrats!
So jealous. I've never driven a classis Mini although it's on my bucket list. You may be getting a message from me once I know what dates in September I will be visiting Mum. ;)
Me and MWF discussed what Minis we like and if I remember rightly we both like that style of Mini. If it could ever feel anything about its appearance I suspect it would feel better about it than when it left the factory.

That thing is a monster, I like it a lot. However if we're playing that game I'll leave this here too. :tease:

An electric Mini is very sensible, everything this 500WHP version isn't. :LOL:
If we're going for ultimate Minis, can I vote for Project Binky please?

Damn, I forgot about Binky for a second there.

Definitely looks better with the proper plates on. I actually quite like that exhaust, it reminds me of the E-type twin pipes. :p
I like how even by 1989 they still hadn't fixed the fan location. I guess figuring out how to install an electric fan behind the grill would have broken BL/Rover Group's R&D budget.

But that's part of the charm of the car, Issignonis was able to engineer his way out of a limited development budget.
Some evening claying and polishing stints are starting to pay off, paint feels really lovely now. The paint had a lot of iron contamination, I'm guessing from the grinding the previous owner was doing on a Riley Elf in the same garage.

Also replaced some very dodgy looking fuel hose and the plugs. Just waiting for a coil as the one fitted is not only wired backwards, but is wrong for the car. Hoping this will help my lumpy idle when it arrives! Strong petrol smell in the garage currently, so I can see more fuel line issues on the horizon.

Also have an oil change and few other things lined up, but the suppliers are quite slow at the moment owing to virus related stuff.
Oh what an upgrade over the original spec, which looks like something my 6-year old daughter would drive.

Looks like a lot of fun - though I have to confess that I'm also among those, who haven't driven a classic Mini yet. Hopefully I'll be able to do so one day.

The chav in me kinda likes the exhausts :D Maybe they'd look better if they weren't sticking that far back?
Plenty done since the last update, plenty of bodges to undo as well including:

Knackered rear brake shoes
Wrong coil
Wrong plugs
Ancient leads
Wrong choke cable
Leaking thermostat housing
No battery cover
Two sets of wheel spacers on the back for no reason
Horrible vinyl boot floor retrimmed
Wrong fuel vent pipe, causing awful fuel smell
Wrong fuel cap, causing awful fuel smell
New wiper arms and blades
Engine chrome tat removed
That awful exhaust replaced with a lovely Maniflow system
Lots of Dinitrol applied everywhere
Other things I can't remember!

Still in love with it though, and at least now it sounds reasonably quiet and drives how it should.



Nice looking "cooper". I don't see it would need a much change. Maybe old school race seats.

At 2005'ish I had Mini 1000, it was 1989 too. Offered 2/3 of asking price as I thought I'd could walk away and buy AW11 but ended with Mini. It was in nice condition, except the Lord of darkness, Lucas. Those minus et wheels made steering extremely heavy on slow speeds.

Picture taken with potato.

Had I known at the time that Nissan Micra 16V engine drops straight in...

Barely drove it, wasn't a huge fan of the way it rode on the big wheels, and wasn't easy to change as it had the front discs.

Onwards and upwards!