5 Ways to Modernize Your Classic Mini Through Mechanical Upgrades

We've all seen the value of early Classic Minis skyrocket over recent years, making it quite justifiable to make some mechanical upgrades to enhance safety, performance, and enjoyability of these relics... we note that all the Mark 1 Minis left are at least 50 years old now!!

These sorts of upgrades generally do not detract value from the car's "originality", and provide significant improvements in safety.  It goes without saying that automotive technology has made some advances in the last half-century, and it is not an exaggeration that an early drum-brake Mini cannot stop as well as a modern delivery truck!  Nobody wants to rear-end a UPS truck with their Classic Mini, so lets start with a couple of brake upgrades:

1.   Austin Mini Brake Conversion Kit Drum To Disc 's' 7.5 Inch

If you want to run 10 inch wheels, this is the kit to add the Cooper S Disk brakes to any Classic Mini that still has drum brakes in front. The improvement in braking power is eye-opening, upgrading your Mini from 'primitive' to modern sports car capable!

No matter how well your Austin or Morris Mini Cooper handles, you still have to stop sometime, and if the car in front of you has ABS you'd better be able to stop your Mini Cooper right now! At one time the only way to get the highly desirable Mini Cooper S disc brakes was to acquire a used set and rebuild them. Now we have this kit to convert any year Austin or Morris Mini or Mini Cooper to S disc brakes. GET IT HERE

Let's not forget the rear of your Classic Mini.  Even back in the 60s, the Cooper S models used the "big drums" to widen the track at the rear of the car to match the wider disk brake front.

This kit should be considered mandatory for cars with front disk brakes and over-size wheels and tires!

2. Austin Mini Big Drum Brake Kit For The Rear Of All Minis

The rear brakes on all stock Minis or Mini Coopers (except the "S" and those with 8.4 front discs) have drums brakes that have no built-in spacers. If you are going to fit anything other than stock wheels to your Mini Cooper then you may need spacers on the rear brakes to clear the shocks and trailing arms.  GET IT HERE

Another area where technology has marched forward is TIRES!  Modern radials introduce side loads never dreamed of during the "Leave it to Beaver" era!  Minis used caged BALL bearings in the standard models well into the 1970s!  Any serious Classic Mini must upgrade to the Timken-style tapered roller bearings as used on all modern cars, and luckily, it's a very easy upgrade with the new bearings simply going into the existing hubs.  Don't even think of keeping the caged ball bearings if you have oversized wheels and tires, or a powerful engine! 

3. Classic Mini Tapered Roller Wheel Bearing Kit - Complete

This kit replaces ALL of the wheel bearings in your Mini or Mini Cooper. "Roller" type wheel bearing are considered far superior to the stock "Ball" both for load capacity and life expectancy in either the Mini or Mini Cooper. And while rollers wheel bearings are standard in all "S" models, ball bearings are standard in all other Minis. GET IT HERE

We've improved the stopping and the rolling and handling of our early Mini so far!  With most American Minis running a big engine,  the next upgrade to reliability and performance has to be modernizing the drive axles.  Early minis used an inner u-joint at the differential output that had a known issue, namely that the 4-axis u-joint had to operate through a bind in certain conditions. Suspension and steering travel can exceed the range of the u-joint, so the end-caps had to be in a large rubber cup that could force the joint past it's normal range.  This was adequate for the 15 or so horsepower 850cc engines of the original design, but results in quick destruction when a built 1275 puts 5 times the power through it!  

SIDE NOTE:   Classic Mini Rod Change Gearbox Upgrade Conversion Kit

One more we want to add to the list, is the Classic Mini Rod Change Gearbox Upgrade Conversion Kit.  This kit usually accompanies a new big engine going into an early car, thus it includes the late Rod-change shift linkage along with a pair of good used axles, AND brand-new inner CV joints (known as "Pot Joints" for some reason!) that feature the very standard modern 6-axis articulation common with front-wheel-drive cars. 

Here's a link to the kit.   

With our theme of modernizing a Classic Mini for more reliability, we can't overlook the primitive dynamo charging systems of old.  We offer a modern alternator conversion that enhances the reliability and function of the charging system, AND costs less that the old Lucas generators:

4. Austin Mini Alternator Conversion Kit

Tired of dying generators and that "iffy" old Lucas regulator? Convert to an alternator, with built in regulator. You will also be making the car "Negative Ground" if it isn't already. Kit includes, GEU205=Alternator, Unipart, Rebuilt with pulley and fan, 12G2053=Bracket,  Alternator GEU250=Plug, Alternator, 1 Plug Type, Instructions

5.  High Torque Gear Reduction Starter Motor - Verto and Pre-Verto

Finally for today, Updating that old brick of a Lucas starter motor!   One of the reasons so many British cars are notorious for destroying flywheel ring gear teeth is because most of them used a version of this starter!  In fact one of the easiest and cheapest fixes for a starter that keeps "missing" the flywheel is to simply replace the old starter with this modern Japanese unit that is used by Honda and Toyota.  We modify the housing to fit the Mini, and the gear engages the OPPOSITE side of the flywheel teeth.

There are TWO versions for the two styles of clutches used on on the Classic Mini over the years, first the early "Pre-Verto" clutch:

Austin Mini High Torque Gear Reduction Starter Motor Pre-verto

 We've taken a modern Japanese high torque starter and machined a mounting flange to mate it to an A-Series engine. It has a proper solenoid that positively engages the starter when the switch is activated, and it is powerful enough to crank the highest compression engine. Note: NO core charge!

And from about 1980, with the "Verto" flywheels (which have 129 teeth vs.107 for the earlier type):

Austin Mini High Torque Gear Reduction Starter Motor Verto Type

 We've all experienced it - a cantankerous engine that fires on one cylinder just as that Lucas starter kicks out! What an improvement to have a starter that cranked the motor as long as you want. These direct drive, gear reduction starters do that!  Every race car should have one of these.

Call Us For Help and Advice

If you have questions or would like to chat more about anything classic Mini related give one of our Experts a call at 1-800-946-2642 or  contact us through our "ASK QUESTION" feature.  We pride ourselves in supplying an answer within 24 hours.   


Upgrade and Performance Parts to Consider