Another Love Story of woe in the quest for more bhp…… Part Two

UKMotorTalk’s Mike Jones, continues his story of Mini obsession…

If you’ve missed Part One, CLICK HERE

The shenanigans between the build: –

As the build commenced, my newly wedded wife and I were still kicking around our local town in our £30 Minis. At that time, Ann only travelled 5 miles to work. I would jump on my push bike to go to work or, when it rained, swan around in Ann’s Ford Cortina Mk3 GXL four door with a 2.0 Pinto engine. The life of the Cortina was limited however, as she was too thirsty on fuel and too expensive to run for newlyweds, her inevitable sale was to fund a deposit for our first home, a small bungalow.


So, imagine Ann now collecting her friends to go to work in a £30 Mini versus a 1970s Ford Cortina Mk3 GXL four door the previous week. Better even still was the phone call I got one day at work, no mobiles then of course…



“The door, the A pillar and the sill on the passenger side has fallen off when I collected Connie today!”

“No worries honey, there’s some rope in the boot, kick a hole in the door and use the rope to tie the door to the body through the back window.”



“The back window has fallen out as well now!”

“Ok honey, I love you. Leave the window on the side of road and just drive home, but tell Connie she must walk to work today.”

The passenger door was never used by me so I was completely unaware of the, er, “issues” on that side of the car.


The Body work and shenanigans: –

The endless trail of £30 Minis continued as the build was taking place in the background. We were getting closer to completion of project bodywork and ready for the paint job.

Time to call in another favour in exchange for a box load of Mini bits.

My good friend and best man Dave was going to loan me a portable compressor to paint the car in my garage. I removed the passenger seat in preparation to haul the compressor from his place to mine about 8 miles away. I took the farm back roads as this Mini was not the most reliable. In particular, I recall that the brakes were not terribly efficient…

So, I am on my way home, the compressor wedged between the back seat and the passenger floor, and around a tight blind corner on a farm road, yep, you guessed right, a tractor pulls out in front of me.

I hit the brakes. Yep, you guessed right again, nothing happened apart from a kind of twitch between my buttocks.

Luckily, with some rapid pumping of the brake pedal, and pulling of the handbrake, something did happen! It was a loud metallic sound followed by a shower of sparks. “Hmm, that’s odd”, I thought in that millisecond when these things happen, “that’s the wrong sound, should be more of a thud”.

Fortunately for me, this vintage “Deluxe Mini” had a secondary back-up braking system, unknown to the world at this time. The tiniest retardation that had been created caused the compressor to lunge its weight under gravitational forces through the passenger floor which had been made from the best of British Steel at that time.

The compressor stand leg now dragged dangerously on the road which was creating a shower of sparks, acting as a sophisticated secondary back-up braking system which stopped me from impacting with the tractor.

As a second piece of luck, I had the perfect length of 4×2 timber in the boot that I had used to strip out another Mini with the day before. A quick lift of the compressor and onto the timber, a new floor support in place, we were ready to complete the journey home.

After getting home, out comes the compressor, and in goes the passenger seat with the new “floor strut”. Just slip the bolts in, no nuts needed as it’s coming out again tomorrow to haul an engine/transmission unit.


More shenanigans between the build: –

The following morning, I had to take Ann to work in the Mini. She had refused to drive them anymore after the incident with Connie, the Cortina had been sold, and the deposit on our new home paid.

It was absolutely hissing down with rain, in fact some low-lying areas were flooded so I could not jump on my push bike either.

As we commenced the journey Ann says…



“I can hear road noises”

“Oh don’t worry honey, two more days of this one and she will be gone. I am off out lunchtime to do another deal, so I may collect you in a brand new £30 Mini.”

Then we hit a puddle of water about a foot in depth…

Now, if you recall and have been following this one, “there’s hole in the floor, dear Liza, a hole.”

Upon impact Ann gets drenched with a few gallons of wet, cold, muddy rain water from my modified and semi constructed passenger floor.

I had made a feeble attempt to swerve to avoid the puddle, pre-empting the result only to realise that there’s a car on the opposite side of the road.

Consequently, I had to swerve back toward the kerb where sadly the water is deeper due to the camber of the road.

All this swerving popped out the bolts allegedly holding the passenger seat on to my not exactly 100% secure floor. In my lap is my newlywed wife, passenger seat, wet, cold and in smart office attire, now covered in muddy water.

I will leave it to your imagination as to the flood, forgive the pun, of expletives that were released from my dear wife’s mouth. She got out of the car and called her mum from a telephone box to pick her up and take her to work, safely and in dry conditions.

Newly married and deeply in love with me, she forgave me very quickly.

Thank the Lord, because that evening I had to move the Mini with the hole in the floor around the back of the house (using a faithful trolley jack to swing it around the side of the house) to make way for my latest acquisition, another mind blowing £23 Mini.

It had a straight through 8-inch exhaust pipe with no silencer, a Janspeed tuned LCB exhaust manifold system and glass front to the carburetor float chamber. The paint job matched the mechanics, the roof was British Rail day glow yellow and the remainder of the body was various shades of blue with body filler and dabs of primer paint showing through on the sensitive areas.


The Janspeed LCB was on the list for the new build engine so no need to explain where that ended up.

It also had a unique glass bowl float Holley carburetor with matching bespoke fit intake manifold.

There were 1000s of quick mods and bhp hop-ups for Minis in those days. This combination of Janspeed LCB exhaust manifold and Holley carburetor gave a quick 8 to 10 bhp increase, though it wasn’t noticed or measured by anyone.

The carb and intake manifold were not needed, but, miraculously, it sold for £150 funding another 4 donor Minis!

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