The Mini Named Rosie
An article by John Rodden
I had a fab chat with Tom (the winner of our last competition) about his Austin Mini.
Tom is 25 years old and has spent most of his life around the Peterborough area. After finishing his degree 2.5 years ago, he now works in business analysis and consultancy. Tom told us he has been a car nut all of his life and has owned way too many cars for his age. Along with his normal cars and his mini, he also has a little grey Fergie tractor too. Today, we find out more about his Mini, named ‘Rosie’.
“I bought Rosie while I was doing my second year at university. I had been looking for a Mini for a few years. I was tipped off by someone about one that had become available in my hometown and was going cheap. It was cheap for a reason as you can see from the first picture! She wasn’t pretty but was structurally sound considering the price. I used part of my student loan and part of my savings to buy her. My daughter had just been born and one of my name suggestions had been Rosie, but my girlfriend insisted otherwise. We settled on Sophia for my daughter and so when the Mini came along she was named Rosie! I’ve owned her nearly 5 years now and in that time she has had some panels and a re-spray as well as a new interior. I believe a car should be driven not garaged and hidden away so she has never been perfect and needs continual maintenance but that doesn’t bother me."
There are an abundance of UK Mini shows, each drawing in huge crowds every year. Like many other Mini owners, Tom likes going to as many shows as he can, in fact, he has been to most of them. Tom told us his favourite show is ‘Mini in the Park’ which is also, conveniently, the closest to him. Mini in the Park is held at the Santa Pod raceway which operates a ‘Run what ya brung’ event for the drag strip during the show. Tom hasn’t yet had the nerve to take his Mini down the strip after witnessing many Mini’s crash out or dump their gearbox on the starting line!
Sophia (Tom’s daughter) has grown up around the car and also really enjoys going to the shows with her dad.
We asked Tom what it was Sophia liked best about the shows;
“The ice cream she inevitably gets I would say! She likes the travelling to and from the shows and spotting the other Minis. Most of the time I get comments about which colour she wants her Mini to be (pink is a common one!). I’d love to get her into Minis when she is a bit older but I think she would be better suited to a new Mini just because the classics need near constant attention.”
Tom is currently mid-way through restoring Rosie and we wanted to find out more. To change the format a little bit, we’ve listed some of the questions and his responses to them below, this was in all honesty Tom’s idea, as he did say he could end up talking for hours otherwise!
John: “Will Rosie be the first vehicle you’ve restored?”
Tom: “I’ve done major mechanical work on vehicles before but not too much body restoration. I’ve got plenty of experience with welding so it’s just making sure to take my time and ensure a good fit of the new panels.”
John: “What jobs need doing next?”
Tom: “I’m currently replacing the scuttle panel, driver’s floor and both door steps as well as welding up a few of the unused loom holes in the bulkhead. Most of the preparation has been done but I haven’t started the welding yet (life gets in the way as always!). I’ve included a few photos of where it stands. I’ll be plug welding the door steps and scuttle back in with seam welds where necessary elsewhere. I was disappointed to discover that the scuttle panel needed replacing because I had been assured by the paint shop that it was in good order when the car was re-sprayed 4 years ago. A lot can happen in 4 years though and it was an original panel. The other panels I am replacing are original too so I’ve been very lucky that they’ve lasted 25 years. Some of the later classic Minis have much worse rot.”
John: “Is there anything you plan on doing differently with the restoration?”
Tom: “A lot of people weld in entire new doorsteps when replacing them on Minis but this can be problematic with replacement panels being a poor fit. I’ve taken the decision to only replace the rotten sections and I’m using genuine heritage panels for a better fit. Replacing sections takes a bit more preparation time but is advantageous in that I have been able to repair both door steps with one panel. This is easier on the wallet because heritage panels are not cheap! The scuttle panel alone is £125. It’s not a lot compared to some panels for other classic vehicles but it hurts the wallet regardless!”
John: “What is the most enjoyable part about restoring Rosie?”
Tom: “I like getting my hands dirty with any car so I enjoy most aspects but I’m really looking forward to the part where she is finished and back on the ground! I’m looking forward to welding in the new metal in the knowledge that there is no more nasty’s hiding under the paint for the MOT man to fail me on! It’s been 8 months since I last drove her but I’m nearly there.”
John: “Any additions to the vehicle which aren’t standard?”
Tom: “Most of the vehicle isn’t standard! Everything from the engine, wiring loom, seats and more is no longer standard! I have a few favourite additions. One was a conversion to an electronic ignition after I got fed up of suffering from a drowned distributor. Another is the fibreglass removable front for ease of access. Overall, it’s only really the main shell which is near standard!”
John: “How long do you think it will take to restore Rosie to her former glory?”
Tom: “I’m hoping to have her finished as soon as I can. Winter is coming so before the bad weather sets in would be good!”
John: “What would be the total cost of the build/restoration?”
Tom: “My girlfriend would say too much! I would say not enough! I don’t want to add up the receipts for fear the shock would kill me, that or my girlfriend would!”
John: “Could you give us a breakdown of Rosie’s specifications?”
Tom: “The most important bit (to me anyway!) is probably the engine which is an MG Metro 1275cc producing about 85bhp, a big step up from the original 34bhp 998cc engine! There are also uprated brakes, coil-over suspension, and the paint mentioned earlier. Inside are custom leather seats to match the external colour scheme as well as some other bits and pieces including a nice stereo setup.”
John: “Any shout outs?”
Tom: “I’d like to give a shout out to my lovely girlfriend Phoebe for putting up with my daft love of all things Mini! Also to all the members of The Mini Forum, especially Sean, who has helped me out with panels for this restoration.”
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with Tom, and I would like to wish him, Phoebe, Sophia and of course Rosie all the best for the future!
Have a Great Christmas Everyone!
Don't forget to send us your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org