The Mini by design has always been a rusty car, and many people have fallen foul when buying a rusty Mini when not knowing what to look for in the body department. Here we will be looking at the main areas to concentrate on when either buying or restoring a Mini.
RUST AROUND HEADLAMPS.
JOIN BETWEEN FRONT PANEL AND WINGS.
A PANELS RUST THROUGH, AND SUPPORT DOORS SO NEED TO BE SOUND.
INNER WHEEL ARCH AND FLOOR OFTEN HAVE HOLES EVEN IN RECENT CARS.
THE BOTTOMS OF DOORS CAN RUST OUT ON ALL MINI`S.
FRONT ROOF GUTTER AND SMALL AREA IN THE FRONT CORNER ABOVE THE DOOR CAN RUST THROUGH, WATCH FOR RUST ON THE LIP IF COVERED BY TRIM.
THE WAIST RAIL AT THE BACK AND SIDES CAN RUST THROUGH WHERE MOISTURE ATTACKS FROM THE INSIDE.
THE BOOT FLOOR AND BOOT LID HINGE PANEL RUST THROUGH AND BAD REPAIRS ARE OFTEN MADE.
REAR VALANCE COLLECTS MUCK LIKE A SCOOP, BUT RUST ISNT AS BAD HERE AS YOU MIGHT THINK.
THE SILLS ARE THE BAIN OF ANY MINI OWNER AND SPECIAL ATTENTION HAS TO BE MADE, DODGY REPAIRS ARE OFTEN MADE HERE.
THE REAR PANEL BELOW THE LIGHTS CAN RUST INSIDE OUT DUE TO THREE LAYERS OF METAL BEING WELDED TOGETHER, THE REAR PANEL, THE FLOOR AND THE REAR VALANCE.
THE REAR SUBFRAME IS PERHAPS THE LARGEST PART OF THE BODY THAT IN A CARS LIFE MIGHT NEED REPLACING, LOOK HERE FOR RUST IN PARTICULAR.
I have welded many Mini`s in the short time I have been a fan of the car, I had a 1972 Mini 1000 a few year ago that needed a hell of a lot of welding. When buying a car that for instance is clear is in need of doing up, take into account that it will probably need more work than you think. Also remember to pay for welding is very expensive and time consuming, I trained myself and have saved thousands over the years by making a small outlay of only hundreds. Below is more detailed instruction on the most troublesome body panels on a Mini.
Front panel - this panel is large, and to remove it requires the cutting off of legs on the outside of the inner wings, undoing two bolts at the front that secure the front body to the front subframe, also you have to pop off both wings where they are welded to the front sides of the front panel. Replacing the front panel it straight forward, simply bolt the panel on using the subframe bolts which then allows you to check alignment, then weld the panel on to the inner wings around the legs etc, then weld the wings to the front panel from either the outside or inside the wing or both as it do to increase strength and reduce flexing.
Wings - the wings are fairly easy to cut off, firstly cut from the out side rim of the headlight hole to towards the wheel arch of the wing, not cutting the front panel at all. Then having removed the a panel trim cut the wing from the wheel arch up to the corner of the windscreen, but only up to the join at the scuttle panel. Now, you can get away with leaving the bonnet in place here, using an angle grinder cut along the top wing join were it is welded to the top of the inner wing, then now cut from the front leading edge of this welded join back to the head light hole on the other side of were you started. You can now pull off the wing with a bit of wiggling of the wing to yank it off the car. You will be left with the remains of the wing attached to the front panel and a panel, which can now be removed without the hinderance of the wing in the way, you may also have to tidy up the top of the inner wing. When it comes to fitting the new wing, ensure of course that you have clean metal to weld to on the car and the new wing, put the wing in place and align as required, guessing a good gap between the new wing and closed bonnet for example. To hold the wing in place can be tricky, i use a number of small clamps along the a panel join and inside clamping the flanges of the wing and front panel together. Double checking that everything is aligned begin welding along the inner wing, this at least holds the wing to the car when you are doing the other bits. Next you can either do the weld to the a panel or the front panel, i had good paint work on the a panel when i did this last and used exhaust paste to protect the paint work and also prevent warping of the a panel metal. Weld the wing to the a panel by short inch long welds along the joining flange, one long weld would cause the panels to twist, so lots of short spaced welds ensure this wont happen. When doing this properly there should be a gap around the top of the wing where it meets the scuttle, you can fill it or leave what should be a 3 inch long gap about 4mm wide. You can now weld the wing to the front panel, the same ideas apply, but you can only weld from the inside if you like, but i tend to do both for strength and reduce flexing of the wing, which can be improved by welding in a small reinforcement patch of metal where the wing joins the front panel. It can be welded on the edge of the wheel arch where the two panels join, on the inside of course.