5 Speed gearboxes for Minis
Several companies sell 5 speed gearboxes for Minis (at a price), for road or race use, including Mini Spares Center, Mini Sport, and Jack Knight Developments (as used in the Rover Cooper S conversion). A 6 speed racing gearbox is also available from Special Tuning agents.
No Mini-compatible A-series engine has ever been fitted with a 5 speed gearbox at the factory.
Adding central locking/keyless entry/electric windows
Mini Mania sells parts kits that enable any Mark 3-on Mini (with wind-up windows) to be fitted with central locking, keyless entry and/or electric windows. These kits are specifically designed for the Mini - different kits are available but many are generic and will not fit Mini doors well.
Converting to/from Left Hand Drive
To convert from Right Hand Drive to Left Hand Drive or vice-versa, you need:
- The appropriate RHD or LHD steering rack (remember to use the correct steering arms for the rack - Mark 1 or Mark 2-on, depending on the spec. of the supplied rack).
- Appropriate RHD/LHD throttle pedal.
- New brake/clutch lines (these can be easily made with a brake pipe kit if shipping is a problem), to match the new location of the master cylinder.
Follow the procedures in a manual for changing a steering rack, bleeding the hydraulic system, dismantling/reassembling the pedal box, etc - with these parts it is a "bolt on" conversion. On a Mk1/2 Mini, it may be advisable to install a locking door handle on the driver's side, to avoid having to get in through the passenger's side when the car is locked. It may also be desirable to swap over the location of the windscreen wiper arms to their alternate mounting holes (on a Mark 1, these need to be drilled, on later cars, there are rubber bungs in these holes).
How can I find out more about my Mini/obtain a Heritage Certificate?
British Motor Heritage holds the build records for many of the BMC/BL/Rover-affiliated marques: Austin, Morris. MG, Wolseley, Riley, Triumph, etc. For a free (approximately 25 pounds) they can trace the production record of your Mini and issue a Heritage Certificate listing the car's original specification (including paint color, bodywork, options), delivery destination and production dates.
To obtain a Heritage Certificate, you need the chassis number of your car and/or the engine number. (Note that a Heritage Certificate does not mean you own the actual car, just that you have the details of a particular car that was built).
Send the details, along with your credit card number and expiry date to:
British Motor Heritage
Cotswold Business Park
Whitney, Oxon OX8 5YB
Fax: +44-1993-707222 (Outside UK), 0-1993-707222 (Inside UK)
British Motor Heritage also manufacturers or sells many parts for old Minis, including body panels unique to the Mark 1 and Clubman that were no longer officially available. As BMH is a subsidiary of Rover, these panels are the closest anyone can get to genuine and many are made on the original presses.
How to tell if a mechanical part is worn
If you are not used to spotting mechanical wear (a common problem of novice DIY mechanics), most metal parts that are worn can be told by:
- Scuffing marks on the surface of a part as if it had been sanded.
- Any "ledges" worn into a part such as a shaft that runs in a bearing, that you can see or feel with your fingernail.
- Cracks, chips or pitting in a metal surface.
- Shafts, bars, beams, pushrods, etc can be checked for straightness by rolling them along a flat surface. If they tend to rotate in a circle, they are bent.
- Bearing races with grooves worn into them, that are either visible or can be felt with a fingernail.
- Signs of melting or burning.
- Surfaces that are meant to be flat can be checked by placing a straight edge (e.g. metal ruler) on them or placing them on a known flat surface - if a feeler gauge can fit under the straight edge at any point it is warped.
Importing a Mini into the USA
Here are the basic facts about importing a Mini into the USA. To find more details, consult the Mini Mania web site.
- The Mini must be at least 25 years old. The only way round this is legally dubious: the car must be dismantled and shipped as separate lots, then reassembled on arrival. The car must be registered using the identity of an older car, and the owner must hope that no authorities know what a newer Mini looks like. This has been done successfully. Anyone importing a complete, newer Mini risks severe penalties: six-figure fines, imprisonment and/or crushing of the car.
- The details of arranging shipping are best left to car shipping specialists.
- It is common for Minis to look good in photographs but be terminally rusty, particularly those in the UK where rust is severe by the standards of much of the USA - take care.
Is my car a Mini Cooper?
See the Mini Cooper Identification Guide.
Is my car a Mk1, Mk2, Mk3, ... ?
The table below shows which "Mark" your car is. It does not include Australian or continental European variations (Innocenti, Authi) which often had features of later cars. Vans had external hinges and sliding windows throughout production (except Australian production), Elfs/Hornets had a separate Mark sequence, and Clubmans are all Mk3 or Mk4.
|Mark 1 (1959-67)||Small rounded, taillights, sliding windows, external door hinges.|
|Mark 2 (1967-69)||Square taillights, sliding windows, external door hinges.|
|Mark 3 (1970-77)||Square taillights, wind-up windows, internal door hinges.|
|Mark 4 (1977-85)||Large square taillights with reversing lights, wind-up windows, single bolt top subframe mounts.|
Mark 5 (1985-)
|As for Mark 4 but with 12 inch wheels and disc brakes.|
From Mark 5 on, there is some debate about the era of each "Mark". It is better to refer to cars after this by Model Year. E.g. the 1997 MY (Model Year) Mini has twin point fuel injection and this refers to cars built to the same spec after 1997.
MG Metro alloy wheels - can I use them?
No - they will bolt on to Mini hubs but the offset is not correct for the Mini, the wheels being offset too far inwards towards the center of the car.
Rod change gear shift removal
To disconnect the rod change gear shift from the back of the gearbox:
- Put the car in first or third gear.
- Drift out the roll pin in the sleeve that connects the gear change rod to the gearbox, using a 5mm drift or 5mm by 4cm bolt.
- Unbolt the upper rod from the back of the gearbox. This may necessitate removal of the exhaust mounting clamp.
Socket size needed for (xyz) bolt?
|Crankshaft pulley||1 5/16 in|
|Steering wheel||1 5/16 in|
Stripped thread on gearbox drain plug hole/spark plug hole
These can be repaired using Helicoil threaded inserts. The stripped thread is first drilled out, then a special thread is cut that accepts the helicoil insert which is then inserted. It forms a new thread for the drain plug or spark plug. This job can be done by most engineering workshops or good mechanics and should be around 30 minutes labor plus a few (your currency units) for the insert. Tell them what you want helicoiled and they will understand you.
The gearbox casing is made of soft aluminum alloy - the drain plug does not need to be as tight as most people think, hence the risk of stripping the thread.
Turbocharging your Mini
If you need to ask how to turbocharge your Mini, you probably don't need to know. Having said that, everyone has to start somewhere. You will know if you are capable of this project if you are confident you can solve the problems described below.
The MG Metro Turbo provides the donor engine and ancillaries for the conversion. This engine is a 1275cc A-plus series engine, with a low compression ratio and relatively small, sodium-cooled valves to withstand the high combustion temperatures. The turbocharger unit is the Garrett T-3, and a boost modulator is used to reduce mid-range torque, prolonging the life of the gearbox.
The engine develops a claimed 93bhp and more is available by increasing the turbo pressure. To learn more of the details about this engine consult the Haynes Metro manual and Tuning British Leyland's A-Series Engine by David Vizard.
The basic modifications required to fit this engine to a Mini are broadly outlined below:
- Bodyshell. The bulkhead must have a hole cut in it and a box welded into it, to accommodate the turbo unit which occupies much space behind the engine. Some specialists also recommend reinforcing the front subframe. Kits of parts to do this are available from specialists such as Avonbar. Extra engine steady bars and heat proofing for the bulkhead are needed.
- Exhaust. A custom exhaust system must be fabricated to interface with the turbo. Specialists such as Avonbar can help with this too.
- Fuel. A high-pressure (Metro Turbo) fuel pump, fuel regulator and fuel return line to the tank must be installed, requiring modification to the fuel tank. (Fuel injected Minis already have a return line built into the tank, plus an integral fuel pump which may be able to supply adequate pressure).
- Electrical. The Metro ancillaries must be interfaced with the Mini wiring loom.
- Brakes. Vented 4-pot brakes are the order of the day - these can be robbed from the same Metro as the engine.
- Cooling. An improved radiator is required.
The details of the fuel and electrical requirements are found in the Haynes Metro manual.
What are the dimensions of a Mini?
See Body Dimensions.
What does MOWOG mean?
This mysterious inscription is found on many Mini parts.
MOWOG stands for Morris Wolseley Garages, a company set up to supply parts to BMC (the original name of British Leyland, later Austin-Rover/Rover/etc).
Why are Minis notorious for overheating?
Overheating can be caused by many problems: blocked radiator, incorrect ignition timing, lean mixture, blown head gasket, fitting a more powerful engine, water leaks, and/or rusted water pump.
Most of these are caused by old age and lack of maintenance. A well sorted Mini in standard trim should not overheat (except in rare circumstances, such as a Cooper S forced to idle in traffic for a long time on a hot day). If any mechanic tells you "they all overheat" they do not have good enough diagnostic abilities to be allowed to work on your car.
If your Mini does overheat, there is something wrong - have it fixed.