Enjoy Austin Mini Cooper S stories, opinion, and features from across the car world - Hagerty Media
Davin may not be Michael Caine zipping through Turin, but rebuilding this classic Austin Mini Cooper S brought him a few thrills. This little 1275cc engine from 1965 gave him a few headaches but that’s just par for the course when you’re constantly working on cars you aren’t completely familiar with. It just goes to prove that even the simple rebuilds can be frustrating and rewarding all at once.
This Mini rolled into the Redline garage running but still in need of serious attention. The exhaust pipe was more like a smoke machine, and in general everything under the hood could use a good cleaning. With the literal millions of 1275cc A-series engines on the road Davin had hopes that this rebuild would be a quick in and out job, but of course, the engine had other plans. During teardown, all the dirty secrets came out.
First was the gutted thermostat, which implied there were likely some overheating issues in this Mini’s recent history that someone tried to band-aid rather than fix. Then there was the two large gouges in the engine block that Davin found when the cylinder head was removed. There was no other real bad news, but when the issue at hand could require a new engine block it was obvious Davin and the team were holding their breath as they headed over to Thirlby machine shop to get the machine work done.
“The rest of the block and cylinder head were pretty good, but those gouges were pretty deep,” said Davin about the hand-wringing on if the block would be salvageable.”We got a little lucky in that while decking the block didn’t completely remove the damage it got it plenty flat enough for a gasket to take up the rest.”
Direct from the machine shop to the paint booth, a fresh coat of dark green was sprayed on the freshly machined parts and also a few of the sheet metal cover pieces. With the infamous self-peeling tape out of the way it was time to click off the torque wrench and get things put together. While noting the fact the oil pan was also the transmission case, Davin said, “Taking a lot of this apart was strange, but putting it back together was even weirder.”
Even with a few hiccups on finding just the right part, this Mini still didn’t turn into the maxi problem that it could have. The engine got its break-in and final setup in the wee-hours of Saturday morning and it won’t be long before the car rolls out of the Redline garage and over to the Hagerty Learning Garage for a complete restoration. Of course, Davin is not going to sit and twiddle his thumbs now, as he has other projects running and a new one currently in transit to the Shop. To see what that is and never miss an update, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel.
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