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Project: 1961 Austin Mini

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  • Project: 1961 Austin Mini

    I posted up a link earlier, asking about more info on the Mini. I ended up going and checking it out in person. Once I got there, we checked it over for rust, it has a litte bit in the front floor pans and surface rust in other areas. I know its going to be a bit of a project, but hopefully a good learning experience. When we were checking it out, we got it started a couple times and then the starter kicked the bucket.

    Since it was now a non-running car that needed parts, I offered less for the car and also pointed out that it wasn't actually a Cooper S even though it was badged as one. He ended up selling it to me for $2200 less then what he was asking for, so I am pretty happy with the selling price.

    The Mini was his father's 3rd string race car, and he believes that it doesn't have more then 25k miles on it. What we do know about it, is that it is overbored to bring it to about a 1312cc, he thought the compression ratio was somewhere around 12:1 so that will have to be brought down, and it has a big cam in it. From his fathers notes about motor it says: it has a 648 cam: int & exh 15 degrees hot, time 6 degrees B.T.D.C, and 1275cc plus 40 over flat tops. I believe it also has a Weber 45 on it, but I need to verify that. I know it will need a detune, and a new head gasket, as its currently tuned for race fuel.

    As for what came with it, it came with both front seats, though I think I need mounts for the passenger seat and a seat belt. Currently it has all lexan windows except for the front windshield, but has all the glass to put back in it. It also came with a rear heated windscreen, but I think it needs some repair. I will post up more about that after I get it running again.

    Hopefully I can pick the brain of some of you as I am planning on making it street drivable. I would also, love to hear some of your ideas on what it will need for a detune to run 92 octane, I have some ideas as well.

    Some photos of it:

    Thanks for reading!

  • #2


    • #3


      • #4
        PM me before digging into that engine. There are some options you might want to think about.
        "remember, in this country, they drive on the wrong side of the road"
        ‘64 Austin Countryman-???
        '60's Austin mini truck - the chicken truck
        '60 Morris Van - Marvan
        '55 Chevy wagon- the heavy Chevy


        • #5
          Hey James, post your opinions here, that's what a forum is for.

          The car looks better than I remember it from craigslist and it sounds like you got a pretty good deal. Congratulations.

          Here are a couple of things I think you should not spend much time thinking about:

          1. Remove the Weber and sell it. It won't do you much good on the street and it's worth something to racers and would-be-racers.

          2. Remove the oil cooler but keep it, just in case at some time in the future you really feel like you need it. Chances are you won't.

          Here are a few things to look at more closely:

          1. Behind the heater valve opening on the head is flat space where people who port heads tend to stamp numbers. See if there are any and post them. It could help to make an estimate of the compression ratio.

          2. Check the metal around the firewall where the engine steady on the thermostat end of the head attaches. There is a chance that you may have some metal fatigue there.

          3. Check the cast-in numbers on the front of the gearbox toward the left. It should start with 22G or DAM. It may go a long way toward explaining the engine steady mentioned above.

          Here are a few odds-and-ends:

          The brake master cylinder looks like an original Cooper 'S' type (NOS before it was put on the car). Change the brake fluid and check the rear wheel cylinders, not necessarily in that order. It could save you a lot of work in the future.

          The seat in the car has a Karobe seat cover on it. I find them very comfortable and like the way they work. If you decide you don't want it please sell it to me.

          There is a cutout in the rear firewall on the drivers side. This is so you can remove the top mount of the shock without removing the gas tank. They're common when Koni shocks are used.

          The 648 is definitely a race cam, depending on the head you may not have any power below 4000 rpm. There are some things you can do to bring this into a lower rpm range and going to a smaller carb is one of them.

          Let me know if you need any parts. My garage is full of MkI bits.


          If you can afford the car, you can afford the manual...


          • #6
            Congratulations, Ryan. Glad you're back in the Land of the Minied. The car looks pretty solid and, as Kelley pointed out, it sounds as though you got a good deal.

            And don't let anyone tell you different; there's a lot of joy (not to mention street cred) in a 4000 rpm idle.


            "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." -- George Harrison


            • #7
              Thanks for all the advice, Kelley. I'll poke around the engine tomorrow and see if I can find those numbers.

              Does anyone know if there should be a cap on the other side of where the starter goes? It doesn't seem right that it's open to the elements.


              • #8
                Originally posted by BIGSHOT View Post
                Congratulations, Ryan. Glad you're back in the Land of the Minied. The car looks pretty solid and, as Kelley pointed out, it sounds as though you got a good deal.

                And don't let anyone tell you different; there's a lot of joy (not to mention street cred) in a 4000 rpm idle.


                Lol, thanks Dan Even though a 4000 rpm idle might have a lot of joy, I am not too sure that my pocketbook would like it


                • #9
                  Ahh. The old hammer the back of the flywheel to get it off the crank. Oops. Missed.
                  There were some Minis made with a rubber plug in that hole. Certainly not necessary...and you have bigger things to work out!
                  The more I know about Minis, the more I know I don't know about Minis.


                  • #10
                    I checked the head around the heater valve area, but didn't see any stamped numbers.

                    From what I could make out on the transmission, it looked like:


                    The metal around the engine steady didn't look fatigued to me, but here's a photo so you can take a look as well.


                    • #11
                      Hi Ryan,
                      Very cool find!! Congrats! I think you may wish to determine whether the head has undergone some racy mods when you are checking the induction that kelly mentioned. His comment about the mods is important because the airflow characterics of the head when highly modified would make it too much of a bear to tune/run on the street. This is very cool to have to detune a motor as much of the whiz bang may have already been done for you.
                      A comment about the clutch cover "plug" is that it is just a standard floor pan rubber grommit. The auzzies really liked doing this, and understood the need to keep unwanted stuff out of that area.

                      We will all look forward to seeing your progression through this excellent project. Please, if you don't decide to go "BIG" on your wheel and tire selection, consider saving the flare kit for me.

                      Best of luck, and,
                      Best regards,
                      All Together Now..... Everybody.......


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the info on the plug! Though my wife doesn't like the flair setup, its growing on me and I think I will keep it for now

                        I would really like to find out what is going on with the head, maybe it would be best to just pull it off and take it to one of you more knowledgable folks? I really want to find out the compression ratio as well.

                        I am really hoping to use the current motor with de-tuning modifications as I think it could be a quite fun motor to have.

                        Does anyone know anyone who might want to trade or buy the Weber 45?

                        For the bulkhead, the only thing I found on Mini Spares was the whole front end? Are there any panels out there that I could trim down to delete the bulk head box?

                        I know I am going to need a lot of Mk1 interior components, maybe Kelley will let me come over one of these days so we can get that all figured out.


                        • #13
                          The engine steady on the firewall looks fine. I hadn't thought about it before but since there are no rubber bushings it's going to transfer a lot of engine noise into the cabin.

                          I think the gearbox number might be 22G1128, they are hard to see when they're in the car. This is the 4 syncro remote change. Check where the shifter housing connects to the gearbox. If the bolts are horizontal it's an Austin America type if they are more or less vertical then it's the Cooper 'S' type. Of course there's no telling what's in the 'box.

                          You're welcome to come over and look at parts. A list in advance would be handy so I can dig some things out, but it's not required. PM me when you get close. I'll look around for some firewall sheet metal but no guarantees since I think I did this for someone else a few months ago and struck out.


                          If you can afford the car, you can afford the manual...


                          • #14
                            My second guess was that the H could be 11, but I really was unsure.

                            As for the transmission if it helps, my old mini was push down over and up, sitting from the RHD side. From the LHD drive side, this one is push down, over and down. Maybe its just a LHD Mini thing?

                            As far as the interior, I pretty much need everything minus the gauges and front seats. I am sure we can figure it out as we go though.


                            • #15
                              I decided to give the engine area and under carriage a bit of a clean. It is still a bit dirty, but a lot cleaner then it was.

                              Before with electrics covered.


                              I also took photos of all the rust damage, I still need to pull the battery and make sure the box is ok.

                              Passenger side floor pan.