When considering radiators for classic Minis, there are several important factors to keep in mind. However, it's worth noting that the range of options and requirements for Mini owners is relatively limited compared to other vehicles. In other words, you’re typically stuck with the original side-mounted 10.5" to 11" square radiator used from 1959 to 1996, or the front-mounted radiator found in the MPI models.
This article will provide useful information on all things “radiator” and will feature 6 radiator and radiator kit recommendations:
FIRST CONSIDERATION - MAINTAINING ORGINALITY
To simplify things and maintain originality, it's recommended to opt for the copper fins on brass tubes type radiators, which should always be painted black to prevent corrosion. If you happen to have an original embossed Coventry Radiator's top tank or an MK1 with the top hose outlet at the end of the top tank, you may consider getting it re-cored. For MK2 models, the top hose outlet was moved approximately 1.5" inward to provide additional reinforcement against breakage and cracking due to vibration, especially when using old rigid hoses.
To maintain that classic mini classic look, consider opting for the original copper fins on brass tubes configuration. For standard engines, radiators like ARP2000 and GRD172 are usually sufficient. The latter differs by offering a twist-in sender unit feature designed for 1275 cars with electronic fans from 1991 onwards. Both radiators feature three offset rows of thin tubes, as manufacturers discovered that thinner tubes break the coolant down into smaller amounts, resulting in improved cooling due to lighter material and enhanced heat transfer.
Classic Austin Mini Radiator 3 Core Standard Cooling
We offer a wide range of radiator options, including the popular super 2-core and 4-core radiators. However, if you own a stock Mini and reside in a cooler climate, the stock 3-core radiator might be the perfect choice for you. It provides ample cooling power without exceeding your needs. Upgrading to this 3-core radiator will certainly be an improvement over your old, rusted, and clogged radiator, ensuring better performance and cooling efficiency.
Classic Mini radiator 1990 up to late 1996 SPI
In 1990, the Mini underwent significant transformations, including updates to its radiator. The radiator I'm referring to is the standard version that was utilized across all models from 1990 until late 1996, including the SPI cars. Notably, this radiator features a clip-in sensor hole located at the bottom.
HOW ABOUT A GREAT RADIATOR KIT
Here are two kits we highly recommend:
Classic Mini Super 2-Core Radiator With Cap and 11 Blade Fan & Hoses
When it comes to cooling your Mini, the new design Super Two Core radiator is unrivaled. This radiator boasts a highly dense core, similar to the ones used by Lotus. In terms of dimensions, it matches the standard Mini radiator, making it a hassle-free direct replacement for one-piece radiator shrouds. For earlier models with two-piece shrouds, only minor modifications are required. To enhance your cooling system, our special cooling kit includes the radiator (C-ARA4442), the latest design 11 blade fan (12G2129), upper (GRH247) and lower (GRH201) hoses, and a 13-lb cap (GRC111). With this comprehensive kit, you can ensure optimal cooling performance for your Mini.
Classic Mini Super Aluminum Radiator With Upper & Lower Silicone Hoses
For those seeking a touch of elegance, behold the stunning polished aluminum radiator accompanied by incredibly durable silicon hoses. Currently adorning my own car, this kit features the Austin Mini Super Aluminum Radiator with Upper and Lower Hoses.
The C-ARA5000 is the epitome of a trick alloy radiator designed for all pre-'89 Mini applications equipped with 1275cc engines*. Weighing a mere 4.75 lbs, it offers the perfect combination of exceptional cooling capabilities, lightweight construction, and breathtaking aesthetics. Truly the best of all worlds!
In this exclusive Mini Mania kit, you'll find the upper and lower silicone radiator hoses. These hoses are virtually indestructible, standing the test of time, heat, and environmental factors. Whether you're a dedicated racer seeking absolute reliability or a daily driver longing to bid farewell to hose-related troubles, this kit is your ideal solution. The silicone material ensures remarkable flexibility, making installation a breeze compared to conventional rubber hoses. Additionally, silicone radiator hoses can withstand significantly higher temperatures (up to 350°F/177°C) than standard EPDM rubber radiator hoses (max 257°F/125°C).
The kit includes:
* Please note that modifications will be necessary to install this kit in MKI Minis still equipped with the original inner fender radiator shroud.
BIGGER ENGINE RADIATOR OPTIONS
For 1275cc or 1380cc classic Mini engines, Aluminum radiators maybe the answer you’re looking for. Known for their superior heat dissipation compared to traditional copper/brass radiators. They are lightweight and provide efficient cooling for higher performance engines. Aluminum radiators are available in various sizes and configurations to accommodate different engine sizes, including 1275cc and 1380cc.
Classic Mini Cooper Super Trick alloy radiator side mount cooling
Weighing only 4.75 lbs, this radiator offers the best of all worlds: exceptional cooling, lightweight construction, and stunning aesthetics.
Designed to fit all Minis after the MK1/II, it can also be installed on earlier cars by removing the built-in radiator shroud. For cars manufactured from 1992 onwards, slight modification of the LH inner wing/bonnet may be necessary.
This alloy radiator features a lower front threaded hole equipped with a screw plug for convenient radiator drainage. Additionally, the plug is sized perfectly to accommodate the C-ARA4445 Radiator Sending Unit for later cars.
Compared to copper-brass radiators, aluminum radiators provide superior cooling performance. For example, an aluminum radiator with 2 rows of 1" tubes is equivalent to a copper-brass radiator with 5 rows of 1/2" tubes. Aluminum radiators are highly efficient, lightweight, and have a longer lifespan compared to their copper-brass counterparts.
To secure this radiator to the shroud, you will need ARA1117M bolts (6 required per radiator).
The approximate capacity of this alloy radiator is 1 1/2 quarts. Please note that while it is specifically designed for pre-1990 cars, it has been successfully fitted to later models as well. The drain plug on this radiator matches the size of the screw-in type sender unit found in all later cars (refer to C-ARA5000 sender unit).
When fitting this radiator, there are some important considerations. The header tank on this radiator is 10mm wider than the standard size, favoring the inner wing. For post-1990 cars where the engine sits 1/2" further forward, installation may not be straightforward and may require modifications by competent car mechanics/engineers. It is crucial to note that attempting to fit this radiator to 1275cc post-1990 cars without making the necessary modifications can result in damage to the fins, rendering it non-returnable.
Before installation, remove the cowling from the engine and ensure it fits the radiator easily. File out the mounting bolt holes if necessary for easier installation in the car. Use short metric cowling bolts when securing the cowling to the radiator. Place the cowling loosely in position, but do not attach it until the radiator has been dropped into place and checked for fitment. Ensure that the front of the radiator, where the top hose connects, clears the lip of the wing to avoid any damage. You may need to cut the tab from the boomerang-shaped upper radiator bracket that sits against the thermostat housing to allow for movement and modification to fit the top tank properly. Ensure that the fan has sufficient clearance from the cowling on all sides.
It's important to note that fitting this radiator to post-1990 cars can be challenging due to the engine being further forward and potential misalignment of the subframe mountings. The alignment of the engine mountings and any previous accident damage repairs can also affect the installation process. Therefore, careful assessment and preparation are crucial before attempting to fit this radiator.
Aluminum Radiator Original Shape | Pre-1991 Classic Mini
The advantages of this radiator are threefold. Firstly, it provides an original looking radiator with correct shape header and lower tanks, same as ARP2000 to look at but made in aluminum with latest technology cuprobraze manufacture. For metric fasteners used with this radiator, see FS106107.
Secondly, it’s painted black like the original classic Mini radiator and it covers any blemishes from preparation and manufacturing. But thirdly, they’re the least expensive, high quality aluminum radiator available anywhere.
To prevent galvanic corrosion, it is recommended to use distilled water in these radiators, particularly to avoid any adverse reactions with cast iron engine components such as water pumps, engine blocks, cylinder heads, and some thermostat housings. Galvanic corrosion occurs when aluminum interacts with ordinary water, and distilled water serves as an effective preventive measure.
It is crucial to note that running the car at excessively low temperatures should be avoided. Water boils at 212°F, and under pressure, its boiling point can increase by approximately 3 degrees for every pound of pressure. Therefore, it is advised to maintain an appropriate operating temperature.
For optimal performance, we suggest using a 15lb cap (GRC1110) with this radiator. The higher the pressure cap, the higher the temperature at which water boils.
* Please note that this radiator is not suitable for 1976 Australian Minis, as the hose positions differ. The image provided displays the outlets in their original UK and USA positions. To facilitate the installation of the cap, a small amount of grease can be applied to the filler.
ALL THINGS RADIATORS FOR CLASSIC MINIS
There's more to Radiators than Radiators. Check out some of the kits below that will help save you time and money. Or if just need hoses, fans etc. they're all here.
Shop ALL Radiator Hoses, Hose Kits and Hose Parts HERE. And don't miss our DIY Full Radiator Parts Diagram for the Mini cooling system and Full Diagram for Classic Mini Radiator Hoses and Accessories.
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