Basil the Mini

RESTORATION REPORT#8: Color Study and Powdercoating

A few months ago, I took my old front subframe to a local powder coating shop here and was really impressed with the job.  For about $90, my front subframe looks brand new and ready to go back into place.  Some of you may know by now that I did not go this route with the rear as it was in so-so shape.  I am sure it is normal to have a rear subframe in this condition and some people would be able to recondition it, but the front was clearly in better shape and decided to match it with a brand new BMH rear subby that I purchased for a steal.  With the Mini being such a simple car and a majority of the chassis designed by two independent subframes, these kind of improvements really make a restoration project complete.

Last year sometime, I started to look at colors as I really was nit digging the refrigerator white that Basil was sporting.  I would have been happy with an Olde English White, but the white that covered the little car was just too bright and modern for my taste.  At some point I came to the realization that I would retore Basil to my vision – more RestoMod than say factory spec – he was going to embrace a very retro rally theme with some Italian hints mixed with some Japanese Miini Culture queues.  If you ever wondered what the Japanese embrace from a Mini standpoint, then look no further here.

My design theory started with factory colors from the 60’s that I just fell in love with.  Then I started to see a few modern twists on some of the older colors (particularly greens and BRG’s).  And to be honest, this continues to plague me today.  It seems every week (ask my wife) that I am jumping from one color to the next based on my mood or the color of the sky.  Mix that with a cool picture that I come across of a vintage Mini, and every thing goes out the window.  For a long time, green (a particular shade) was my go to color – but I am so in love with a red interior.  Red interior just floors me every time I see it in a mini.  I included a few pics below that continue to inspire me – so really at this point, it is all up in the air.  Just last week, I started to really fall in love with one of the Singer Porsche’s that they just launched in London in early 2104.  Working with an incredible sexy old Porsche color (took me weeks to find the color code), they weaved some serious magic here and have never seen anything like it before.  The interior was a blend of smooth tobacco tan leather mixed with some woven style carpet materials and textures.  I call this look the automotive Snicker’s Bar and you can see why below.  Yummy!

To ease my dilemma, I invested in some custom mixed paint samples and painted/clear coated several pieces of aluminum sheeting and bent them to resemble say the front wing of a Mini.  And then I looked at the contrast with the MB gold wheels as well as color swatches.  Quite a contrast on some colors and some not so much.  But this is the first time I am showing this exercise and hope you can see in the pics below where my passion is coming from and hopefully will turn out beautiful.

RESTORATION REPORT#7: Beyond the Cold Frost of Hibernation

Wow…it has been a long time. Way too long. But there has been some significant updates for Basil and it feels good to get another report underway now that the cold winters have come to pass. Snowpocalypse hit Atlanta like a 2 ton sledge hammer and created havoc for the body shops across the city and because of that, Basil waited dormant at Sentry and now looks like the work will start soon. Which is good – some of you may or may not know that when it comes to a restoration, any kind of lull like this totally kills momentum, inspiration, determination and simply the passion to see your vision come to light…and I need to continue to be patient with the body crew and let them just do their magic. So let’s get to it:

Basil is to Sentry Auto Body out of Lilburn and is about to undergo engine bay blasting as well as under the front end to see how he fares. My main concern is the front left as there is some bondo there that I can see/feel. Only getting into the stripping will reveal the true cover-up from the previous owner, etc. Once that process starts, we will look at ay rot or panels that need to be replaced or carefully taken care of. The underbody is something I really need to consider and I am motivated to have it stripped and repainted with a colored underseal. Depending on price, it may simply be standard black underseal so I can make any repairs at home with a simple aerosol can when needed. I am also thinking about holding off on the Arches that I included in the drop off. The more i think about it, I really need to get the Mini back on its own wheels to see how far they stick out and how low I want the suspension to sit. Seems like double work to then go back and re cut the panels to fit the arches, but it is the only safe way to do this right.

So with Basil in hiding, I have started to order parts and start to recondition many of the major components. I started with the heater and dismantled the unit and checked all power off a battery. It works fine, but needed a good cleaning, new paint, and new foam around some of the baffles, etc. It looks really nice now and I have asked a good friend of mine Scott Kirkham to help me design a “cheeky” heater panel with appropriate slang. Stay tuned for that.

I hit the fuel tank with a vengeance but did it in a chassis black color – which means not very glossy. So I may repaint that again or just add a clear coat now. I am still battling with the most ANNOYING little niggley issue – the fuel cap that leaks. This is one of the fancy 3 piece Monza designs that I do like, but the inner cap design is shit and has ruined the white paint over time. It is not an option for that to leak again with the new paint job, so I may end up hitting my friends at JET MOTORS in Portland for their new cap design and just toss this one away. It looks nice and I grabbed some raw NItrile Sheet Rubber (Buna-N) in hopes I can create more of a seal at the neck and where the cap meets the neck, so we will see. I may give that one shot and test with some water/gas.

I also moved on to some of the factory suspension parts that will be used – like the upper arms needed repainting and sanding. Will need to replace the knuckel joints on each and will leave the trunnion pins alone for now as they look in good nice. I also attached the remote gear box mech and starting to understand the internals a bit more while I look for wear. I have started to clean that up and painted the bracing rod and shifter coupler and will be painting the actual shifter rod. I do not think I need to refresh the actual internals, so we will see. I did order the two main bushings that sit on top of the remote gear box and will have a more solid feel. I may paint the shifter itself as well so it contrasts nicely with the Monte Carlo knob.

I also have several other parts waiting for sanding and painting including the shock mounts (really BAD rust collection under each mount in the fender) as well as the foot pedal assembly. I may have these powder-coated for longer rust proofing so we will see. Also have the engine mount straps that you can no longer find and will need to be blasted and painted as well.

I also came across an original Mk1 Boot Lid that is slightly bent and I may have Sentry blast this and straighten and paint. Really love the Mk1 boots so we will see. I started to grind away some of the black paint to discover the original BU-42 Honolulu Blue under and just gives me goosebumps looking at the vintage color.

More to come! Motor on….