The “oil pan” for our 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S needs to be reassembled. Typically an oil pan wouldn’t require so much work, but it just so happens that this one has an entire transmission inside it. Davin gets to work putting every bit and piece of the transmission back together along with several new parts (mostly bearings) that were well worn past the point of using again.

The compact nature of the Mini’s drivetrain is a big part of its character, but it’s also a big source of headache for Davin. The engine’s oil pan houses the entire transmission, and even with small gears that makes for a cluttered assembly. Luckily, he has all his reference materials lined up and everything is ready to go together. A little assembly lube here and a dot of oil there and everything slips together nicely—and we do mean everything. Davin points out that sometimes assembly is a process of elimination game, even when you have the right materials. All the proper parts are on the table, so nothing should be left when the job is done right.

With all the hardware torqued and no “spare” parts left over, this transmission is ready to be mated up to the engine. That will happen on the next Redline Update episode so be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss a grease-soaked minute.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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When Johnnie Yellock stepped off the airplane in Nashville, he wasn’t even sure he would be able to drive the car he had come here to buy. So unsure was Yellock that his legs and ankles would answer his call, in fact, that he had brought a friend along to help him drive. You know, just in case.

Only a few years earlier, Yellock had had to install hand controls on his car in order to drive himself to work, on errands, and to the seemingly endless string of doctor and physical therapy appointments that constantly awaited him across Texas. And yet, here he was, on his way to buy his dream car, a 1984 Porsche 911 Targa that would require him to use all four of his limbs if he was to drive it back home to Dallas.

Johnnie Yellock's 1984 Porsche 911
Aaron McKenzie

That Yellock even has all four of those limbs is a testament to the wonders of modern medical science. That he can use them to operate a manual transmission is nothing short of miraculous. Fresh out of college and inspired by both his parents’ military careers, Yellock joined the Air Force. His goal: to become a Combat Controller, a special operations soldier whose duty is to embed with special forces teams from across the U.S. military—Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy SEALS—and control air-to-ground combat operations. Suffice it to say, this is no paper-pushing desk job.

In 2011, while on his second deployment in Afghanistan, Yellock’s convoy hit an improvised explosive device in Paktika Province. The explosion ripped through the MRAP (mine resistant military vehicle) in which Yellock was riding. When Yellock regained consciousness and looked down, he could see the soles of his feet staring back at him. After applying tourniquets to himself to staunch the bleeding, and then supervising a helicopter MEDEVAC landing for himself and his interpreter, Yellock was rushed to a military hospital and eventually evacuated back to the United States. For his actions on that day, Yellock received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action Medal.

Yellock also received words from his doctors that he would, in all likelihood, be a double, below-the-knee amputee. Even if they saved his legs, the doctors said, he might never run again, much less drive a manual transmission.

Johnnie Yellock's 1984 Porsche 911
Aaron McKenzie

“I felt at that point that I’d run enough,” Yellock says. “I think we’ve all run enough, but at only 24 years old, it was a difficult prognosis to know that I might never be able to use my feet again [to drive a stick shift].”

Thanks to modern limb-salvage techniques—and 32 surgeries—Yellock not only has both of his legs but now uses them to do everything from play golf to, yes, drive his classic Porsche. Sure, he will have to wear adaptive braces on his legs for the rest of his life but this, for Yellock, is a price worth paying if it gives back to him these simple pleasures he once came so close to losing.

Driving a manual transmission is no longer something Yellock takes for granted. It is not an afterthought, or an experience to which he feels entitled. Every time Yellock slides into the driver’s seat of this 911, it is a reminder of his perseverance, his good fortune, and his unbreakable optimism that keeps him moving forward into the future.

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When looking for a fun-to-drive drop-top, Keith Hamersma was pretty focused. It had to be a Porsche 911. Certainly, there are many options for open-air driving, but Hamersma fell in love with the 911 decades ago, so when he finally reached a point in his life where he could afford one, he really didn’t have a choice.

Interestingly, as we learn in the latest edition of Why I Drive, Hamersma didn’t jump straight into the air-cooled cult. Instead he elected to purchase a cabriolet from the 996 generation, which started in 1999. Liquid coolant courses through the innards of the flat-six engine, which is blasphemy to the purist, but Hamersma doesn’t get caught up on it. He chooses to enjoy the drive.

Hamersma even eschews a manual transmission in favor of the six-speed Tiptronic, which allows him to sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s all about the fun of driving, which is a highly personal thing and doesn’t always require three pedals.

While Hamersma loves his water-cooled 996, he elected to add a slightly older sibling to the garage when he grabbed an air-cooled 993—also a cabriolet. The pair represent the end of an era and the beginning of another, but that is merely a bonus to the driving enjoyment they bring Hamersma.

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