Wheeler Dealer takes on a 1964 Mini with a little help from some friends

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Project Frankie courtesy British Motor Heritage

With the help of the British Motor Heritage firm, the host of one of the most popular car enthusiast shows on television will be restoring his favorite car.

Mike Brewer’s UK-based Wheeler Dealer (on Discovery in the UK and Motor Trend in the U.S.) is one of the most popular car related shows on television. The format is pretty simple. Given a limited budget, Brewer locates an interesting used car to buy, and his more mechanically inclined co-host, now Ant Anstead, formerly Edd China, fixes it up enough for them to flip the vehicle.

Brewer’s favorite car of all time is the classic, original Mini Cooper S. As is often the case with collectors, he has a story of one that got away. Later, by happenstance, he found and purchased a ’64 edition at an auction. The Mini is now named “Frankie,” after the man who originally refurbished it for him and refused payment, saying that Brewer’s smile was enough reward for his work.

Frankie is in need of a bit more than a refurbishment, since 55 years is a long time for a car to last and the original Mini was not rust-proofed to modern standards. It needs a complete restoration and a whole new body. Fortunately, Brewer is the host of a popular TV show about fixing up old cars. Even more fortunately, British Motor Heritage owns the original tooling from BMC, which it uses to produce complete, brand-new body shells, and the company agreed to donate a new Mini body to the project.

Project Frankie
courtesy British Motor Heritage

British Motor Heritage was founded in 1975. In addition to individual replacement sheet metal, so far, the companyhas made more than 6100 complete replacement bodies for the MGB, MG RV8, MG Midget, Austin Healey Sprite, Triumph TR6, the original Mini, and the Mini Clubman. Because of modern metallurgy, electrodip primer, and effective rust-proofing, the replacement shells will likely last longer than the originals.

“In my experience, genuine car people are all nice guys, as British Motor Heritage have further confirmed by generously contributing a new shell to the cause and helping me to achieve my dream machine, for which I’m more than grateful,” said Brewer.

Frankie will be the subject of a year-long restoration, carried out by Andy Harrison of Acespeed, a respected West Yorkshire-based restoration shop. The build will chronicled in Mini Magazine and on the social media channels of all involved in the project. The project is being launched with the appearance of both Frankie and the replacement body at the 2019 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show in November. When completed, Frankie and Brewer will return for next year’s show.

Wheeler Dealer is about fixing cars well enough to flip them, but doing it fast enough to fit in the production schedule of a television show, and cheaply enough to fit a budget. As a project of personal significance to Brewer, somehow we think that Frankie will come out a bit nicer than Wheeler Dealer‘s usual projects.

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