Classic Mini Grilles Over Time - Basic Information
The following is a quick summary of the basic Mini grilles used on the English made cars and is focused on those grilles still available in reproduction form. It does not cover the Clubman variations or those used on the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet, all of which are no longer available. Minis made other than in England had the same or similar grilles, for the most part, but grilles may have changed at different times in manufacture than in England, or, like many of the Italian made Innocentis, may have been entirely different looking.
Although Mini grilles varied greatly in detail over time, they fell into three main categories: those for the Mk I cars; those for the Mk II and later cars; and those with no separate grille.
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Starting with the easy one first, the English made Pickups, Vans and Mokes did not have a removable grille. The grille was part of the front panel. The panel shape was the same as those with a hole cut for the grille, so the integral grille section could be cut out and a removable grille installed, even on the Moke.
There were seven different basic variations of the Mk I grille: Morris (painted or chromed), Austin, Austin Super, Morris Super, Austin Cooper and S, Morris Cooper and S. All were fitted with a chrome piece over the top and down the sides (the “mustache”) and two finishing pieces (“whiskers”), one sticking out from each side of the lower ends of the mustache. The whiskers could be left off, leaving a slightly unfinished look, or the whiskers and mustache could be left off and just the grille used for a different look.
All of these grilles were fitted with no tie-ins to the bonnet, and fit into the recess in the front panel. The bonnet did not have a front support lip like the later cars. A later, “lipped” bonnet could be used with Mk I grilles, but the lip should be removed.
Mk II +
Starting with the introduction of the Mk II cars in October of 1967, the grille for the saloons went through a major change and would keep the same basic shape for the rest of production. Grille colors and details varied (many of which are no longer available), but, with one exception, the grilles were all interchangeable. The exception came about late in life when the bonnet release was moved inside the car like it had been decades earlier on the Elf and Hornet. With that change, the hole, center top of the grille that had been used for access to the bonnet release lever, was no longer necessary and not built into the grilles.
The Mk II grilles used a different trim system. The bonnet was produced with a lip on the leading edge and the upper grille trim piece fit to this lip. The two side trim pieces were C-shaped and capped each end of the grille. The grille itself had a lower trim piece completing the surround look, and the grille attached to the front-most part of the body panel instead of into the recess.