Preparation

We started to strip various bits off the car but I wanted to keep it drivable. I had applied to The Heritage Centre In Gaydon to basically to make sure that the car was a Mk 1. Low and behold after a few weeks had passed Mabel was confirmed a 1964 Mini, and all the numbers matched, although the car had Mk 2 rear lights I managed to find out that in one of its many (well looked after) crashes Mabel needed a new rear panel, but needless to say the Mk1 panels were not available at the time so the MK2 one was fitted. Both rear quarter windows were the correct MK1 size.

So I guess that I was trapped and had to do the deed and refurbish Mabel, The quick £500 to £600 profit was long gone .

Where do you start a project like this? First of all checking your bank balance and also pulling favours, finally don’t tell the wife.  As she did not like Mini’s, and had not even met Mabel (and still hasn’t). My wife is not kidded up that due to my enthusiasm and attention to detail Mabel is the other woman in my life .

So with the project kicked into place I had to decide what to do first, as the mechanics of the car were in a pretty good order I though the best thing to do would be all the bodywork, through the 48 years of Mabel’s life  she has had some very bad treatment. With the number of people driving her in her racing / sprint years  she was honeycombed with holes for seat  fixings, the car had a large majority of metalwork removed to help lighten the overall weight. The point was totally turned upside down with what would be passed off as a small RSJ being welded from side to side for yet another seat fixing, yes the horrible red ones. Basically the whole floor was in need of replacement, there was a big swallow there as my welder said that it would be very costly as he scratched his chin and smiled, to ask him to do it would have been a bank overdraft .

A few days had passed with all this in my mind and also the scare of what else would show up once the banging of a hammer on bodywork, and checking with a magnet to see if there was a load of filler in the car.

Mabel was close to the scrap heap as I had not realised the severity that was hidden behind the paintwork, there was even the whole in the floor for the original push button floor starter, so that was more proof little Mabel was a 1964 Mini, and I thought that she should not be scrapped, but should be rebuilt to survive the world for many years to come . I convinced myself to move forward, but not involve “Mickey the welder”.

Mabel had a fiberglass front fitted with a separate bonnet which was very badly cracked so a new one was required, also the doors were buggered so I wanted to get lightweight ones , for a MK 1 this was a bit difficult. So as one does the internet was my starting point  Googled ‘Fibreglass Mini Doors’ and the best find possible flew to the top of the page “ARC ANGELS” I called them and got to speak to a really nice helpful guy called Tristan who told me he was already in the process in making his first set of MK1 Doors and I could be the first to have a set along with a new bonnet and new front end. I mentioned the rest of the damage and hidden defects along with the dreaded floor pan. Guess what, he knew a man who could help me.

I had to await a call.

A few days had passed and I got a call from an unknown number, of which turned out to be Robin Ingram, the guy who works for Tristan. I explained what the situation was and he said “don’t worry I will come and have a look” this being all the way from Axminster In Devon.

mabel5

Yes was the word as Robin had agreed to give Mabel  a new lease of life unknowingly to the both of us, the picture above is at Arc Angels .

mabel6

Robin decided to start methodically with the rebuild, first of all the floor pan, this was quite amazing you will see from the picture above the big old RSJ and the honeycomb floor . All this had to be removed and replaced.

mabel7

Frightening a Mini with no floor just two bars welded to keep it all square and strong wrong move will bend the roof and then it would have been the Scrap heap .

Systematically Robin welded the floor into place along with new inner and outer sills and roll cage pads .

mabel8

Half the new floor into place, notice that the driver’s side is not there yet .

Then more excitement , more rust , this was found behind the A panel. the old panels were removed to find loads of rust behind left and right hand side . the bulkhead was in reasonably good order on both sides .

DSC_0224 (2)  Robin had some serious work on hand as non of this , I write this” tongue in cheek  ” was expected , if you believe that you will believe    anything. Should I just pull the plug as this was draining the cash big time , but needles to say Robin from Arc angels said that he loved a challenge .

Robin soldiered on to start by making various new sections himself and that made my life easier to not have to source this metalwork .

The Arc Angels Mini specialists have got to be the savior of Mabel , because without there dedication and Robins excellent metalwork skills , a skip would have had to be ordered .

 

Meet Mabel

Affectionately known as Mabel the story started back in May 2012, seems ages ago, when I saw a Mini on eBay and thought this could turn a couple of bob and a small profit. I spoke with the then owner who said he would drop the Mini to London if I was that interested, I thought about it and decided that I would go ahead, what was I leading myself into…

mabel1

This was the first picture that was e mailed to me, by the looks in the photo, can’t go far wrong, this is until it turned up on a rusty old trailer . The then owner said that he would unload it and then I could have a drive. I patiently waited whilst he unstrapped the car from the trailer, the straps being withered and torn, still she made it to London being towed by a tired Volvo. Eventually he jumped into the driver’s seat and flicked some switches and the car burst into life, she sounded whiny as the car has straight cut drop gears and also a straight cut gearbox. The little weber was growling away as the engine started to heat up .

She was off the trailer and the owner said “What to try her?” I was a bit apprehensive as the owner had told me that the car had been hardly used for  6 or 7 years, the only mileage was to and from the MOT station. Oh and of course the odd sprint and hill climb.

I jumped into the very uncomfortable drivers seat and commenced a little drag off the line run outside my business  ” North One Service Centre Ltd”. After about 100 yards I decided that I had had enough of the bum shattering seats then fitted to the car, got out and did the deal.

I was now the owner of a 1964 Mini, having dabbled in Mini’s about 15 years previous I did know what I was buying and did know what I should expect  from a 1964 MK 1 Mini which  was not the best of examples. Still never mind, I wanted to get her back to where she should be (within reason) as the car had been extensively modified and at one time it was used in the “Miglia Challenge” so it did have lots of goodies fitted.

So a few days had passed , and the enthusiasts that I have working for me said that I should restore it and keep it. Remember I had only brought to sell it and make a small profit, but that idea was fast disappearing .

What the hell should I do?? at that time I had a spare ramp in the corner which never got used due to the way it was positioned, so Mabel had pride of place.

mabel3
mabel2

The hideous seats which were Ally with a bit of cloth on them, they ended up on ebay. And the dated and terrible steering wheel , still have the wheel  I think it will end up in the dustbin.

The last picture in one piece

The last picture in one piece

I mentioned the trailer!! Well we have moved on a bit in time you will read all about Mabel and the restoration , but little did I know that there would be another restoration  to do, this being the trailer, all I can say is ” I am surprised that it got to London. I will post up more details later