The story of the second Mini starts with the first Mini. After getting out of collage and settling down in a different part of the country then the first Mini was stored the restoration pace was pretty much non existing. Then after a while I just felt that I had to drive it. There was still a lot of work to be done with the car, so what to you do, you do the next best thing and buy one more.
I’d just started a new job and kind of did need to celebrate anyway. On a train trip to a customer I searched the ads on internet (the world had upgraded to internet from when I bought the first Mini) and I found a Austin Mini Mk II from -69. Last year with the external hinges, it was in ok shape from the look of the pictures and it was recently MOT’d. It was blue metallic and ready to drive in my opinion. I figured it would be a good beater car that would be cool to drive but not something you needed to be over protective with. Turns out the MOT aspect didn’t guarantee much as the front end fell apart on a drive home from work four days after I bought the car.
Name of the car: The cars name is Lilli, a name that made sense for obvious reasons since its a small car and the name flirts with little but even more so with some of the Swedish words for little.
Buying Lilli: Well, once again I called a friend and asked for a ride, the same friend, and this time we had even smaller transportation. My friend wanted to drive a cruiser bike. I geared up and off we went. First time I’ve done that, but it was a nice cruise and quite a comfortable bike to hitch a ride on. I had gotten some directions and we cruised down to the car in the barn and passed a fantastic looking Porsche 914 on the highway. I remember the different experience of being so close to it at speed, and kind of nice to be able to look at it at speed, but still being so close for an extended period of time. When passing it we gave the driver a thumbs up and pushed on.
We arrive at the barn and its a really old couple selling it, in fact they’re selling it because she is unable to get into the car, and even less able to get out of the car if she manages to get in. It wasn’t in the best of conditions but by now I’d come to appreciate a classic in a less then pristine condition. It’s just nice to be able to drive it with out constantly being suspicious of everything around the car. You can be a lot more relaxed in a beater and it’s just one more flavor to experience in a classic car.
We checked the car out, talked back and forth about the price. I kind of sensed that something would pop up with this car, there was a risk in there somewhere. It’s not that they where bad people, I really believe they were just in over there heads when it came to restoring a car like this. After some haggling back and forth we had a deal including trailer delivery to my garage the next day. I guess they where a little unsure about their ability to restoring this car as well and didn’t want to let me drive it all that distance even though it was supposed to be MOT’d and all.
What’s been done to her: Since its a beater car I have primarily done things that will make her easier to drive, and more reliable when driving long trips. We aren’t going to fast forward to much in the cars history and focus on what had to be done when I bought her, i.e. what I now know was the risk I sensed when buying Lilli. Turned out all that was wrong was basically these four things:
- The left front wheel linkage wasn’t attached properly
- The hydrolastic suspension wasn’t filled up properly
- The number 3 cylinder has bad compression
- The Spark plugs needed changing
Depending on how you look at it this wasn’t that much and it was many many things. By chance nothing did cost a lot of money and even more importantly the losing the front wheel in traffic incident didn’t result in an accident, because this was a pretty catastrophic failure for the car and the consequences could have been quite gnarly if it had happened at speed.
The suspension thing was kind of interesting though. The car is old, and the suspension is not like conventional suspension, and when something goes wrong, that means that you first need to read-up on how it works and then go about building the tools for fixing it. There is no support, you are on your own, but it’s 60’s technology. There is however a lot of friends to be made in the Mini community that can help you fix what ever problems you have with the cars. It’s actually sort of like the more problems you have the more friends you are going to get. Today Lilli is an everyday driving gem in my garage. She looks kind of scruffy, but that’s the whole point.
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Writer: Pierre Helgesson
Title: Founder & CEO of Drivers Soul