Mini Me - Reader Resto

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This stunning Aussie-built mini was rescued before it got turned into playground equipment

Mini Me - Reader Resto
It’s an Aussie. The boomerang sticker the giveaway.

I’ve always been a Mini fan since I was a kid, even back when I was at school. I tried to go to the factory with my mum when we were in the UK, but didn’t succeed. Don’t know why, but it’s always been the case.

The Mini K is an Australia-specific version, with the engine from the Morris 1100, the idea being it would cope better with the bigger distances. It was a higher-spec model that got some of the Cooper features such as the three gauges, elevating it above the standard cars.

This example was rescued from being turned in to playground equipment.


It was a web find during COVID. I wasn’t really on the hunt for a Mini, just bored. I wanted to do one, but didn’t think I’d start this early. This one was within the 5km travel restriction radius and was picked up the evening before a lockdown. Two-and-a-half years later it was what you see now. 

This one had been off the road for just on 20 years – it was on its original registration until March 2003.

Two people tried it as a restoration project. The original owner dismantled it and sold it after a while, then the next owner did nothing with it, and sold it to me. 

It was sold to me as more complete than it really was, which is a bit of a theme with unfinished projects. It didn’t have seats, but it did have most of the running gear. A lot of little bits and pieces were missing. 


Clean green fun machine.

That’s been a major part of the project over the years: Finding the boot latches and things like that, which make it and end up costing an arm and a leg. I promised myself I’d never add up all the receipts!

This is one of the last round-nose, Australian-made Minis, built in January 1971. It has rear seat belts and heater as standard, plus the later Clubman doors on the older shape. They went to the Clubman front from mid-1970.

Doors and door hardware are tricky because they’re specific to the Australian Clubman. 

I put a lot of effort into finding new-old-stock where possible. The front left wing, and number-plate flap on the back are NOS. For other stuff like the rear valance that was rusted out, I just got the best quality reproduction bits I could and got them to fit. Repro parts are often nowhere near fitting, where the originals bolt straight in. 


The body was fairly good for a Mini. The sills were good, while the rear valance and the back edge of the boot floor were gone. The rear edge of the spare wheel well was rusted – they all do – the front floor wells and A-pillars needed work. One repair I found was a piece of metal rivetted in place and then covered with bog! Not the best, but the upside is it was enough to keep it going long enough to survive today. 

You inevitably pick up new skills. For me it was welding. I’ve done it before but sheet welding is more delicate than something like box section, so a friend helped me with it. I eventually got to the stage where I could do it myself. 

The car was painted professionally but otherwise it was my own work.


While it went to a professional for the paint job, David did all the other work.

Front seats are Cobra buckets. It had a black interior originally but didn’t come with it. So I fitted low-side Cobra buckets in the front, which was my preference and part of the image I had in my head. The back seat is on the to-do list – the priority was to get it on the road and driving.

Wheels are a reproduction of the original Cooper S rims, in alloy and made to look like steel. I may change them at some stage – there are small evolutions over time. These fitted in the arches and were available.

Engine and mechanicals are my bread and butter and what I enjoy, so that’s what I put my heart and mind into. 

The engine is a 1098cc that’s been bored 40 thou over and has a few add-ons. From top to bottom it has: Ported cylinder head with Cooper S valves, double springs and twin SU HS2 carburetors on a Cooper S manifold, flat-top pistons, wedged cranks, lightened flywheel and pressure plate, fully-balanced bottom end, and a slightly warmer cam. The latter is not too crazy as it’s more for driving, and it’s not a race car.


1098cc of muscle. More like a Jack Russell really.

Ignition is an electronic distributor still in the original housing – just to remove that element of working on points.

It has a full Maniflow exhaust, which is a pretty common option. It’s a twin-box system that’s still pretty fruity. It’s designed to work with the siamesed exhaust on cylinders two and three.

It’s come up nicely. 

The cylinder head was done in Sydney, while someone in Melbourne did the block for me. They in turn passed me on to a Melbourne parts supplier, who doesn’t have a shop front but was good for one-on-one advice. That turned out to be invaluable.

The gearbox is from a late-seventies Clubman, so it’s a rod-change style. I’ve gone with what’s referred to as A-plus gears – a much later set from the UK. So it has stronger shafts, gears and very good quality bearings that aren’t easily found.


Cobra low-riders look the part.

It came with drum brakes front and rear, but like a lot of people, I’ve gone with the Cooper S 7.5-inch discs on the front and spaced drums on the rear to match the different track on the front. It’s not running a booster, but you don’t really need it. I’ve put this over the scales and it’s a little over 700 kilos, which is up a little bit on original. But it’s got sound deadening and speakers, and it was measured with a full tank of fuel.

Suspension was originally hydrolastic linked front to rear. One of the bags on mine was perished and I didn’t want the system because of the maintenance. I went with a ‘dry’ system, which is rubber cones with adjustable ride height and Bilstein shock absorbers. People say it doesn’t ride as well as the original system, but this isn’t a daily-driver car. 


What does it drive like? It’s great fun and very small. You realise just how small when you pull up beside a Toyota Yaris and it’s towering over you! It’s nice and sprightly. 

It hasn’t yet been far and I’m doing short trips while I dial in things like wheel alignment and carburetor adjustments. 

It’s great fun and it’s not something you can drive discreetly – you get a lot of attention. Everyone has a Mini story to tell you. 

Next project? It depends on who you talk to. My brother wants me to do a Land Rover Series II that he knows of, my sister-in-law wants me to do an MG TF, and I got bored the other day and found an MG ZA Magnette, which would be my preference. And then I was recently offered a Clubman GT. I don’t have the space at the moment, but eventually something will happen …


NUMBER MADE: 400 approximately

BODY STYLES: Steel integrated body/chassis, two-door sedan

ENGINE: 1098cc inline four-cylinder w/ single carburettor 

POWER & TORQUE: 37.3kW, 81Nm

TRANSMISSION: Four-speed manual 

SUSPENSION: Independent hydrolastic front and rear

BRAKES: Disc (f), drum (r)

TYRES: 145/80/10

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