1 2
jazzop
jazzop None
11/2/12 4:34 p.m.

Does anyone else understand how I feel? Ever since the automotive equivalent of the Communist Manifesto, FMVSS 209, set the precedent for the continuous assault on our motoring liberty, cars have progressively gotten larger, heavier, less spacious, more complicated, and (in my humble opinion) less fun, thanks to the propagandizing of the false values of safety, fuel efficiency, environmental impact, and cupholder capacity (to name a few). While these and other qualities are not mala in se-- on the contrary, they are often desirable--the fact remains that government mandates to automobile manufacturers and importers have shaped the marketplace such that those who give a damn have few (legal) alternatives when choosing a personal vehicle. We have lost several landmark battles in this long war: crash standards, emissions standards, passive restraints, CAFE, and for my two-wheeled brethren, helmet laws. But the more insidious defeat is that our numbers are being severely attrited, as the industry has successfully shaped the public's attitudes regarding these matters (after all, it's easier to meet government-imposed sales targets of hybrids when the consumers aren't asking for something else), converting them into a lobotomized army of occupation to consolidate their victory. I became acutely aware of this problem later in life than my peers, as I had an ownership history of uncommon and rather old vehicles. But when I decided to buy a 2004 MINI Cooper S JCW as my first "new" car, I found myself sinking into a bog of cognitive dissonance. I had to spend money to undo numerous "features" that simply made the car slow and heavy. And then I had to deal with the design flaws and build-quality issues that, if you poll other R53 owners, should really be the subject of a recall (n.b., as an owner of BMC- and Leyland-built vehicles, I understand that gremlins are omnipresent).

Now I am faced with an interesting opportunity for redemption. My MINI has succumbed to the recent floods of Queens, NY and will be totaled out. I am considering repurchasing the car from the insurance company and either parting it out (less likely), or rebuilding it into a proper example of a modern descendant of the real Mini (notwithstanding all the corporate takeovers that eventually resulted in the BMW iteration of the marque). Something that won't make me cringe whenever I see MINI marketing materials dropping names like "Monte Carlo", "John Cooper", "Alec Issigonis", or "Paddy Hopkirk". As Sara Silverman said, "When life gives you AIDS, make lemonAIDS."

Are you still with me? Now on to the wrench-turning stuff...

The rebuild will have two main phases. First, a cost-sensitive phase that should yield a decent $2013 challenge car.

  1. Depending on the state of the motor relative to flood damage, either use the stock motor or replace it with something more interesting (but sticking with 4 cylinders, for proper Mini-ness). I would even consider a carbureted engine (SU, of course). Suggestions?
  2. Strip all electronic garbage from the car, which is probably literally garbage anyway, after being flooded. Replace only that which is essential to running a motor. Delete power steering, ABS, A/C, ICE, power mirrors, power locks, airbags, etc.
  3. Convert the side windows to horizontally sliding, bomber-style windows (viz.- the MkI Mini). Obviously the to-do list will depend on the condition of the car after it is gone through thoroughly. Any other suggestions as to core items I am overlooking?

The second phase will center on coachwork that will bring the car more in line with classic British aesthetics and remove once and for all any traces of that GTI-tuning, "kraut boy" look with which BMW has tainted the MINI line.

  1. Wood, chrome, leather, and painted metal is all a good interior needs. I have a talented woodworking friend who can make me a wood dash. All interior plastic will be replaced with either wood, chrome, or painted metal.
  2. Replace instruments with mechanical Smiths versions, or similar.
  3. Perhaps replace the front seats with something resembling low-backs or factory recliners?
  4. Any other retro-mods to give this car a more Anglo appearance?

I'm sure many of you will disagree with my relative discounting of safety and so forth, so please understand that I am inflexible in my philosophy of motoring. I also do not want to hear about any legal concerns, as I am perfectly willing to keep this car registered as an off-road vehicle. I do, however, welcome any suggestions on mechanical and aesthetic modifications that might help me achieve my vision.

JtspellS
JtspellS HalfDork
11/2/12 5:37 p.m.

Holy mother of god that is a wall of text almost to the point of canoe's

But highlights for those of us who are lazy please?

ransom
ransom SuperDork
11/2/12 5:46 p.m.

I kinda wish I had the time back instead of having waded through the vitriol, but you can get the automotive project gist by reading the two lists and the sentences right before them, with the knowledge that he has a flood-damaged MINI as a starting point.

EDIT: That was a pretty snotty synopsis.

It sounds like it could be a cool project. But I really wouldn't mind hearing about it without having to sit through a lecture about how much the OP hates automotive progress (or "congress") since the '50s. I happen to be in favor of efficiency, ecology, and safety, at least in general and within reason, and I don't see the call for such an antagonistic intro. But apparently I can't even apologize for being snotty without being snotty today... Ignore at will.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas HalfDork
11/2/12 5:54 p.m.
ransom wrote: It sounds like it could be a cool project. But I really wouldn't mind hearing about it without having to sit through a lecture about how much the OP hates automotive progress (or "congress") since the '50s. I happen to be in favor of efficiency, ecology, and safety, at least in general and within reason, and I don't see the call for such an antagonistic intro.

+1.

OP, if you are indeed not a canoe, and need inspiration, there are plenty here with classic British iron (myself included) who could be persuaded to post pictures.

Edit: pretty sure this isn't a canoe. While it is a hell of a diatribe for a first post, we don't get many canoes who fill out their Reader Rides. Nice stable, btw.

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
11/2/12 6:36 p.m.

I don't know what a "canoe" is, but I suspect it is a pejorative term along the lines of "troll". Well, I am not one. I used to have an account here under an old email address that I no longer have access to, so I had to create a new account.

I make no apologies for the long OP; it would do well for some internet denizens to challenge their short attention spans by reading complete sentences once in a while. And if the tone didn't make you laugh, then I guess I should have inserted a few fart jokes to cater to the more primitive senses of humor.

I'm going to solicit some technical opinions on MINI-focused boards as well; but I don't have a lot of optimism, considering the typical modern MINI enthusiast knows or cares diddly-squat about classic cars. From my experience with the GRM crowd, I was hoping to gather some creative ideas on modification. I generally don't do any modifications that can't be undone, but this project is fairly radical.

Thanks in advance.

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle New Reader
11/2/12 7:22 p.m.

In reply to jazzop: subscribed. Sounds good.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce HalfDork
11/3/12 7:05 a.m.

I like that you have a big pile of lemons and are already salivating at taking a sip of the pure sweet lemonade.
Be sure to take lots of pictures.

Spinout007
Spinout007 SuperDork
11/3/12 12:05 p.m.

Yes lots!

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
11/3/12 4:50 p.m.

Y'know, someone put SU's on a miata... said that although driveability, reliability, etc etc etc, all failed, but the engine felt "warmer". I knew instantly what he meant. Less sterile. That said, I converted my MG Midget from a-series to 4age with injection. I haven't much looked back, but having been a decade each way, I'd strongly consider an a-series with supercharger with ~120hp in comparison to what I have now with 1.6 and ~145 hp.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 Reader
11/3/12 5:06 p.m.

i undertood what the first ost meant: he wants the soul of the claasic back in his modern car. cant fault him for that.

id personally leave it efi myself, along with abs. more tractable that way for more venues.

id do individual throtle bodies in megasquirt, though, for soul purposes.

a catless, chambered exhaust should hel power and soul as well.

add lightness with all the removals youre talking about, as well as stripping all the fluff and sound deadening from the insides.

leave some thin carpet, and vynil covered trim panels made from heat mlded abs.

stiffen the spring, shock, sway bar, and bushing pacage in the process of lowering the ride height.

take plenty of pictures and have fun.

look at vintage racersa and vintae race photos for inspiration.

michael

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
11/3/12 7:41 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote: id personally leave it efi myself, along with abs. more tractable that way for more venues. stiffen the spring, shock, sway bar, and bushing pacage in the process of lowering the ride height.

The extent to which I will delete systems like EFI and ABS will initially depend on how much damage is revealed by inspection. And fuel delivery will depend on the motor being used, anyway. Switching to carbs is only on the table as a possibility, not a likely course of action.

The current JCW suspension (with aftermarket camber plates) is pretty well-sorted as it is. And it's not likely to be harmed from the submersion. As total weight and balance change with the addition of lightness, the suspension setup will obviously need to be revised.

Ian F
Ian F PowerDork
11/5/12 9:33 a.m.

I'll be watching this with interest. Specifically whether your buy-back price allows the car to be eligible for the Challenge. Personally, if you can get at it quick enough, you may be able to dry out and salvage the engine.

Cuda
Cuda New Reader
11/5/12 10:25 a.m.

I have always wanted to take an SN-95 mustang and carb the 4.6 that is in it. I will be watching this

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
11/5/12 10:36 a.m.
jazzop wrote: 1. Depending on the state of the motor relative to flood damage, either use the stock motor or replace it with something more interesting (but sticking with 4 cylinders, for proper Mini-ness). I would even consider a carbureted engine (SU, of course). Suggestions?

I met a guy at a car show that put a Geo FWD unit into an original Mini. He claimed is was almost a bolt-in deal. More power than a stock Mini, lighter and you can break down anywhere in America.

Dan

Ian F
Ian F PowerDork
11/5/12 12:12 p.m.
jazzop wrote: 1. Depending on the state of the motor relative to flood damage, either use the stock motor or replace it with something more interesting (but sticking with 4 cylinders, for proper Mini-ness). I would even consider a carbureted engine (SU, of course). Suggestions?

Keep the Tritec - dump the supercharger + add turbo.

I suppose SU's are possible... but you'd have to completely rebuild the bottom end to get the compression up. And it would still likely have less power than a stock R50 n/a Tritec.

psteav
psteav HalfDork
11/6/12 5:24 p.m.
jazzop wrote: I don't know what a "canoe" is, but I suspect it is a pejorative term along the lines of "troll". Well, I am not one. I used to have an account here under an old email address that I no longer have access to, so I had to create a new account.

The day we've dreamed about has come....Cordbell returns!

turboswede
turboswede PowerDork
11/6/12 8:28 p.m.
jazzop wrote: I don't know what a "canoe" is, but I suspect it is a pejorative term along the lines of "troll". Well, I am not one. I used to have an account here under an old email address that I no longer have access to, so I had to create a new account.

It's a small wooden or fiberglass boat, propelled by oars and primarily used for inland water ways, but that's not important now...

Slyp_Dawg
Slyp_Dawg HalfDork
11/8/12 12:34 a.m.
Ian F wrote:
jazzop wrote: 1. Depending on the state of the motor relative to flood damage, either use the stock motor or replace it with something more interesting (but sticking with 4 cylinders, for proper Mini-ness). I would even consider a carbureted engine (SU, of course). Suggestions?

Keep the Tritec - dump the supercharger + add turbo.

I suppose SU's are possible... but you'd have to completely rebuild the bottom end to get the compression up. And it would still likely have less power than a stock R50 n/a Tritec.

or, depending on your power aspirations, I think the John Cooper Challenge R50s (non-S to those of you who don't speak MINI :D )made about 130hp by virtue of a different tune and exhaust, just bumping the factory R53 compression up to around 10:1 (standard for a R50) or 10.5:1, IRTB/megasquirt it, pick up one of the Megan Racing headers (tuning wise, almost anything is better than stock, sharp bends right out of the exhaust ports and ~12" primaries on a motor where most header calculators will call for 50"+ primaries, depending where you want the power) and build a custom exhaust from that to the rear end should get you at least 130, since the JCC R50s had to breathe through the stock intake and exhaust manifolds. oh, and this might be a good time to add all the chassis bracing you can off of a Cabrio, or engineer a little of your own. If the stock engine is toast and you don't feel like rebuilding it, I'd be looking at a K20 swap (keeps the rear-facing exhaust ports so you don't have to get SO creative with the exhaust, but it might be a bit big, and you'll have a mini that sounds like a honda :P ) or maybe a Mazda KL-ZE swap? that one might not/probably won't fit though, just given how much wider a KL is than any inline 4. Zetec? FWD BP and throw some CSP-ish Miata engine tuning theory at it?

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
11/9/12 2:04 p.m.
Slyp_Dawg wrote:
Ian F wrote: Keep the Tritec - dump the supercharger + add turbo. I suppose SU's are possible... but you'd have to completely rebuild the bottom end to get the compression up. And it would still likely have less power than a stock R50 n/a Tritec.

or, depending on your power aspirations, I think the John Cooper Challenge R50s (non-S to those of you who don't speak MINI :D )made about 130hp by virtue of a different tune and exhaust, just bumping the factory R53 compression up to around 10:1 (standard for a R50) or 10.5:1, IRTB/megasquirt it, pick up one of the Megan Racing headers (tuning wise, almost anything is better than stock, sharp bends right out of the exhaust ports and ~12" primaries on a motor where most header calculators will call for 50"+ primaries, depending where you want the power) and build a custom exhaust from that to the rear end should get you at least 130, since the JCC R50s had to breathe through the stock intake and exhaust manifolds. oh, and this might be a good time to add all the chassis bracing you can off of a Cabrio, or engineer a little of your own. If the stock engine is toast and you don't feel like rebuilding it, I'd be looking at a K20 swap (keeps the rear-facing exhaust ports so you don't have to get SO creative with the exhaust, but it might be a bit big, and you'll have a mini that sounds like a honda :P ) or maybe a Mazda KL-ZE swap? that one might not/probably won't fit though, just given how much wider a KL is than any inline 4. Zetec? FWD BP and throw some CSP-ish Miata engine tuning theory at it?

I finally got back to NYC to check out the car first-hand, and it had been completely submerged. There is still standing water on top of the dashboard! What a mess... Now I play the waiting game with the insurance adjuster, who obviously has a backlog of cars to inspect and estimates that mine won't get looked at until next week.

In re: engines, IF I can reuse/rebuild the original motor, I would probably keep the supercharger (I'm partial to this form of FI), but I might consider twin-charging it, as there are MINI-specific kits out there.

If I have to source a new motor, it would take a lot of convincing numbers, performance and financial, to get me to go with a Honda unit. I love Hondas, but the sterility of their motors defeats the analog nature of my project. Also, that sewing-machine tappet sound just wouldn't be right emanating from the bonnet. Is there a big-brother equivalent of the classic Lotus twin-cam motor? What about some variant of the Ecotec, with or without FI?

Oh, and you can bet chassis bracing will be covered. Thorough seam welding and sunroof deletion are in order.

mndsm
mndsm PowerDork
11/9/12 2:35 p.m.

I like where this is going. I have an aging Cooper S myself- when it's time to retire it, I have a feeling it will meet a similar "austere" fate, if you will.

Ian F
Ian F PowerDork
11/9/12 3:06 p.m.
jazzop wrote: I finally got back to NYC to check out the car first-hand, and it had been completely submerged. There is still standing water on top of the dashboard! What a mess... Now I play the waiting game with the insurance adjuster, who obviously has a backlog of cars to inspect and estimates that mine won't get looked at until next week. In re: engines, IF I can reuse/rebuild the original motor, I would probably keep the supercharger (I'm partial to this form of FI), but I might consider twin-charging it, as there are MINI-specific kits out there.

Holy crap. Good luck!

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
11/14/12 11:45 a.m.

UPDATE:

The insurance company is telling me that under no circumstances will they allow me to buy the car back as a salvage vehicle! They claim that NY state law prohibits flood-totaled vehicles from being salvaged. My Bovine Feces Scintillator is registering off the scale. The car only happened to die in NY. It has a FL tag, title, insurance, and resident owner. I doubt NY state has any jurisdiction here. I have previously bought back a collision-totaled vehicle from my insurance company (USAA), so I know it can be done.

If anyone has any expertise in the vagarities of motor vehicle salvage, especially with respect to flood damage, I'd appreciate hearing it. Otherwise, this project is dead in the water.

Kenny_McCormic
Kenny_McCormic HalfDork
11/14/12 12:17 p.m.

Call, bitch, bitch at supervisor, bitch at supervisor's supervisor, etc.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
11/14/12 12:21 p.m.
Kenny_McCormic wrote: Call, bitch, bitch at supervisor, bitch at supervisor's supervisor, etc.

This.

If it's not a NY car, they don't get any say in the matter at all.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/14/12 12:29 p.m.

Why not just restore a classic Mini instead of trying to build a 1:0.75 scale model of one?

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
F9EFtwyldhnfXBkpGRPWwm9QbrpEoL0MOuhwO01NVeQItmrSZQgRJ9we3QEUKNdh