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Forget the car, just LOOK at those hubcaps!

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  • Forget the car, just LOOK at those hubcaps!

    Hi everyone, I joined SAMOA last month and have been putting off an introduction. Since I’m realizing it’s all about the car, how about I just give you its story?

    My wife and I caught the “mini bug” almost exactly a year ago. It originally started by my desire to get a “green” vehicle. I teach 5th grade science and was on a grant writing team to get solar panels installed at my school, which they were, and I was thinking how cool it would be to get an electric car in which to putter around town. Looking at the prices and how most small electrics are NEVs (you can’t drive them on “highways,” which we’re surrounded by, living in south Everett), the idea popped into my head that we should buy a mini and convert it to all-electric. (I also knew my wife’s love of minis, which played no small part in its selection).

    So we started the hunt and, despite being advised to join SAMOA first and buy the car second (one of MANY lessons learned), bought a pretty blue mini from a seller just outside of Portland. I say “pretty blue mini” because both my wife and I have NO CLUE about how cars run. I know how to fill tires with air, but even that is questionable at times. I drove it from Portland to Everett, smiling the whole way, and of course getting funny looks from people due to the right hand drive and the silly grin on my face.

    When the electric-conversion idea was in the air, I remember us saying, “How great would it be to buy a mini, have the engine blow up, then be able to convert it to electric without all the guilt of discarding a good engine?” Sure enough, the NEXT DAY we were driving it down to Seattle to show my in-laws (since, as stated at the July meeting, this car earned me MANY points with my father-in-law), and the engine blew up. Busted rod. Lower part of the engine. Not good. It was while being towed to my in-laws by my father-in-law that I 1) Knew I was finally part of the family and 2) Earned even MORE points. I come from a family that rewards cars that run, but apparently the currency with this family is different.

    Again, since we were still mini-struck and couldn’t wait for the mythical Chuck to arrive back from South Africa, we had it towed down to Brooklands British in Tacoma. I had looked into the conversion idea and decided it was probably safer and cheaper to keep the gas engine (well, at least it was safer). We didn’t quite expect it would take from August to January to get it back on the road, nor that it would cost more than the purchase price of the car to repair it, but I have to say that Matt and Greg down at Brooklands did a great job on the engine (and practically everything else that was replaced in the process, which was, naturally, practically everything). I think when I brought it down, I handed Matt a list of between 20 to 30 items that needed checking out or fixing. Though we had the car checked by a mechanic before we purchased it, big lesson #2, having it checked out by a mini mechanic (or anyone who had ANY experience with minis) was quickly learned.

    Since then we’ve (read: I’ve) been enjoying the vehicle and learning all about how cars really work. My knowledge has already increased exponentially after attending my first SAMOA meeting and even more so working with Chuck on it (we’re trying to figure out why it doesn’t like the non-smoking section, otherwise it’d have been at the Bash on Vashon yesterday). When we get it figured out, I have full plans on moving the baby seat to the mini and taking my three month old daughter for a spin. It’s never too early, right?

    From talking with Mark H., Kelley, and Chuck, parts of the car point to anywhere between early ‘70s to mid ‘80s. Most indicators are pointing to late ‘70s, which is what it’s registered as, so I’ll go with that. I was told it was from Australia, which was soon thrown out the window (I wanted it to be from Britain anyhow). A previous owner switched out much of the interior and there’s a bit of creative wiring (especially the random wire in the passenger cab that was left hot!). My wife and I plan to enjoy it as it is (I know the livery and stripes are way off) but we’ve conceded that we’ll keep it in top mechanical order and do our best to prevent rust. We look forward to our first real “running day” with the club and learning even more about these great cars!

    -Mark, Alissa, and Emmarie (pronounced “Emory”)

  • #2
    Welcome I fully understand being bitten by the Mini bug, as I am sure most of here have been.


    • #3
      And if anyone has a set of 16 of the black plastic caps that cover the ends of the lug nuts (which also hold the big plastic hub caps on), Mark would be thanksful.
      The more I know about Minis, the more I know I don't know about Minis.


      • #4
        Mark and Alissa,
        It's so good to see you're still smiling after all your Mini has put you through!

        The first thing any British car owner with electrical issues needs to obtain is a Lucas smoke kit.

        This and many other parts as well as good advice are available at Autosport in Seattle. 206 621 1940

        Don "Dixminion" Dixon


        • #5
          hope to see you all at future events!
          Bother free is the way to be- Winnie the Pooh