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(This thread has been shamelessly ripped from my thread over at detailingworld! I think it mostly applies to the beginning of a project thread here too.)

With an impending birthday where I will be turning an age with a 3 at the beginning...I needed a distraction.

I decided to go for something I've never had before; a second car! Despite not making any practical sense, I decided that I'd like to have a project car, something to tinker with at the weekend and take for the occasional back road blast.
The requirements were that it had to be around £1k, be small and fun to drive, and reasonably fast but not so quick that I can't properly enjoy it.

This left with me with a shortlist including an MX-5 or an R50 (first generation) Mini. I chose the Mini as MX-5s around £1k looked a bit suspect and I know that they like to rust for fun. So, I started looking at Minis and within a few days I had picked a few to look at.

The first one I looked at was a real shed, and impressed with myself at not buying the first one I saw; I bought the second one I looked at...

Anyway, here it is just after I completed the purchase:


It's a 2004 Cooper in Pure Silver with contrasting black roof and mirrors. It has 123k miles which was more than I was looking for but seemed in good shape so I overlooked that fact.
It's also the facelift model which was a requirement of mine, these ones have various changes to make the car better including a much improved gearbox over the older model.

On its journey home from Nottingham to Norwich:


After getting it home I had a chance to have a proper look around it:













Generally it looks in alright shape but perhaps a bit tired. Here's a few interior photos:







Again, solid with no broken trim, but in need of a deep clean.

It's fitted with a few optional extras:

  • Full leather interior
  • Automatic climate control (but the A/C doesn't work)
  • Chili pack which includes things like the roof spoiler, leather steering wheel and gearshift, and sports suspension
  • Tinted windows
That's it for an intro, in the next post I'll show my first detail and then some mods that I've already done.
 

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I was itching to get to work on bringing this new car up to scratch, and decided to start with the interior.

Something I've wanted to do before but have never attempted it is an interior stripdown and clean, so I thought I'd give it a go.


Took out the front seats (the Parkside impact driver in the shot here was a new purchase to aid with this, it made light work of the Torx bolts). Four bolts and two connectors on each front seat, and they're out.


Took the rear seats out too. One bolt holding a latch between the rear seats closed, and then each seat has to be tipped forward to about 45 degrees so a pin on the other side will release.


Finally, the boot trim and carpet as well. Surfex HD in the spray bottle making light work of the dirty plastics.


Carpets dirty but not too stained luckily. Got to work with my Titan vacuum cleaner.


After vacuuming, I washed the carpets in-situ with a carpet washer.





Seats inside the house to be given a good clean and be soaked overnight in Leather Honey. I wanted to use Leatherique as I have done on my Mazda but couldn't afford it at the moment.


Seatbelts soaked in a Flash solution and scrubbed with a soft bristle brush.


The finished article (ignore the dirty mat please!) :)

Next up is the exterior detail!
 

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So onto the first exterior detail; I'd set aside a whole day for this although as always it wasn't really long enough so I couldn't get everything done that I wanted.

Starting with the wheels:

Bilt Hamber Auto-Wheel doing its thing.


Rinsed off to reveal clean but pretty kerbed wheels...oh well.


Except the nearside rear wheel which seems to have escaped the worst of it. All four wheels are also experiencing some element of flaking, so at some point I'll be getting new wheels.


Snow foam applied, trying out Meguiar's foam which won't be replacing my usual Auto Foam but it still did a fairly good job, I just don't like foam on my shared driveway for three months after a wash...


Foam left to dwell whilst various brushes were used to clean the wheels again, and the arches as well as around trim and badges.
Rinsed off and then bucket washed using Auto Wash and several old microfibre mitts.

Sprayed liberally with Korrosol and here's some impressive reaction shots!








After this, the car was clayed and then washed again before being dried and squeezed into my garage for its first polish.


Having never owned a black car before, I can safely say that I'm glad the Mini only has a black roof, A pillar trims and mirrors!


Polished using Meguiars M205 (I've run out of everything else!) on an orange Lake Country CCS pad using a DAS6v2.




Rear lights restored nicely, and some nice gloss on what is fairly boring silver paint :)

After polishing the whole car with this combination, I was starting to run out of time so photos became a lot more sparse!



Here's one towards the end of the day. Some other products used:
Trim: Koch Chemie Plast-Star
Metal: Dodo Juice Motley Blue
Paint: Gyeon CanCoat
Wheels: Sonax Xtreme Rim Coating

I took the car out for a blast in the Norfolk countryside the next day and took some shots of the car:









More to come! :)
 

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The final part of the initial detail was the engine bay, which had obviously never been cleaned before.

These Minis are unfortunately known for oil leaks and mine is no exception, there was a lot of caked-on oil on the lower parts of the engine bay.







Surfex HD at a 10:1 ratio sprayed liberally and left to dwell for a few minutes, before being agitated with a few different brushes. Sprayed over again multiple times to really try and break down the years of dirt.



A mixture of Meguiars snow foam and Surfex HD sprayed over everything through a foam lance. I would always advocate covering sensitive parts on your car!

Agitated, left to dwell and rinsed off using a pressure washer (again, don't do this!) :)
Sprayed liberally with Auto Glym Vinyl & Rubber care and started the engine to get everything dry.



Looking brand new!
 

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Something that's bugged me is the condition of the wiper arms; peeling paint and rust starting to appear at the end of them.





Removed them from the car and rubbed them down with medium and then fine grade sandpaper, before wiping them down thoroughly with Gyeon Prep.

I set up a very amateurish spray booth out of cardboard and resprayed the arms with Halfords satin black paint.



Also cleaned up the spindles whilst I had the wipers off.


Refitted to the car, and looking brand new :)



 

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And now for some mods that I've completed over the past few weeks.

The third brake light wasn't working and so I wanted to get this sorted ASAP.


The red cover broke off as soon as I touched the light! Removing the old one wasn't easy thanks to the spoiler but patient wiggling gets the job done ;)

I went for a smoked LED replacement so it would blend into the spoiler and roof - it looks pretty good!





Next up was the number plate lights, I much prefer the look of white LEDs although I'm not sure why since you almost never see your own lights :D


Original, boring incandescents.


LED replacements from Amazon


Much better!

On the subject of lighting, I also fitted Osram Nightbreaker Laser bulbs to the low beams.
 

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Some more mods from the past few weeks;

I fitted a new stereo whilst I had the interior removed as well. I've seen online that various other people have managed to get double DIN stereos into their Mini but I didn't want to go hacking my dash apart so early, so single DIN it is for now.


I went with a JVC KD-X561DBT; it's the only single-DIN stereo I've see with a proper display rather than those ugly segmented displays. It has Bluetooth, USB and DAB.
I also got a fitting kit from Amazon that was inexpensive and did a great job of making the install very easy.


Fitted and working :)


I also chucked some spare Silent Coat in the doors whilst I had the door cards removed.

Something more mechanical that I also did was change the gearbox oil. I doubt it would have been done before and I know it can make a big difference to an aging gearbox!


Jacked the front up and on jack stands.


The drain and fill plugs on the Getrag 5-speed transmission (8mm hex bolts). I needed a breaker bar to loosen them!


Draining the old fluid.


Looks like 120k miles to me!


A handy trick I read online is to run plastic tubing up from the filler to the top of the engine so it can easily be filled.


Weirdly, the recommended oil online (apart from the OEM BMW oil) is automatic transmission fluid from RedLine.


Filling the oil up.

It hasn't made a huge difference to the gearbox, which I'm hoping means it was in good health anyway. I couldn't see any swarf in the old oil, so fingers crossed!
 

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Welcome to the "Norfolk Mini Owners", looks like you're having fun with you Mini which is the main thing, they are very addictive and I'm sure you'll find all the common things that need to be sorted along with the nice things we all like to do to them to make them more personal.
 

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Welcome to the "Norfolk Mini Owners", looks like you're having fun with you Mini which is the main thing, they are very addictive and I'm sure you'll find all the common things that need to be sorted along with the nice things we all like to do to them to make them more personal.
Cheers, yes I'm definitely enjoying it so far although it's also mixed with constant fear as to whether or not I've bought a good one! :)
 

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evidence there of a silly exhaust by the looks of it

can you set the stereo display to orange matching the dash?

nice knowing they've been cleaned out.
 
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Amazes me how fresh these thing still look clean and in good condition, I don't think many cars of its era have stood the test of time so well. Great effort on the detailing so far.....makes me want to go out and buy a DA!

The gearshift on the Getrags 5 or 6 speed is pretty notchy to be honest, shift quality I wouldn't say it a Mini strong point...I have a short shifter on my S and whilst it probably makes it a bit notchier still the shift is less vague (naturally reduces the throw) and it's far better when you are driving keenly.
 

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evidence there of a silly exhaust by the looks of it

can you set the stereo display to orange matching the dash?

nice knowing they've been cleaned out.
I thought at first that the recently-fitted backbox was sitting too low - until I looked closer and noticed the hacked up bumper! I will be replacing this at some point as the gap looks weird.

Unfortunately the JVC stereo is blue-only which did put me off, but I couldn't find another single-DIN stereo with a display and orange/customisable lighting.
 

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Amazes me how fresh these thing still look clean and in good condition, I don't think many cars of its era have stood the test of time so well. Great effort on the detailing so far.....makes me want to go out and buy a DA!

The gearshift on the Getrags 5 or 6 speed is pretty notchy to be honest, shift quality I wouldn't say it a Mini strong point...I have a short shifter on my S and whilst it probably makes it a bit notchier still the shift is less vague (naturally reduces the throw) and it's far better when you are driving keenly.
I'd say so too; this seems to have stood up well to 16 years and 123k miles without anything looking or feeling tired. I bet they age better than the R56 that replaced it!

I do find the Getrag to be pretty notchy, especially between first and second but apart from that it's a really nice box to use. Is there a guide on here to a short shifter mod?
 

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there is a kit to convert the five speed to a sequential style shift which would be novel
 
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I'd say so too; this seems to have stood up well to 16 years and 123k miles without anything looking or feeling tired. I bet they age better than the R56 that replaced it!

I do find the Getrag to be pretty notchy, especially between first and second but apart from that it's a really nice box to use. Is there a guide on here to a short shifter mod?
Helix is pretty easy to do by all accounts (had a mate do it for me). On the S at least you have to drop the exhaust centre section, remove the cover plate for the shifter mechanism then it's just a metal extension which is installed on the end of one of the shift arms. Technically it makes the shift stick longer (thus reducing the throw) but does so by lengthening it below the car rather than in the cabin as many do. Has some drawbacks....the cover plate has to be left off and the exhaust heat shields need to be bent about a bit to prevent the extension fowling them....consequently when the exhaust gets hot, the transmission tunnel in the car also gets a bit warm but it's well worth it for the improvement in shift quality 👍

You just have to ensure you get the right one for your car as there are some variations of shifter mechanisms between models and facelifts/pre fl's which calls for a particular version of the short shift.
 

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Helix is pretty easy to do by all accounts (had a mate do it for me). On the S at least you have to drop the exhaust centre section, remove the cover plate for the shifter mechanism then it's just a metal extension which is installed on the end of one of the shift arms. Technically it makes the shift stick longer (thus reducing the throw) but does so by lengthening it below the car rather than in the cabin as many do. Has some drawbacks....the cover plate has to be left off and the exhaust heat shields need to be bent about a bit to prevent the extension fowling them....consequently when the exhaust gets hot, the transmission tunnel in the car also gets a bit warm but it's well worth it for the improvement in shift quality 👍

You just have to ensure you get the right one for your car as there are some variations of shifter mechanisms between models and facelifts/pre fl's which calls for a particular version of the short shift.
Cheers for the info, something I'll consider for a future project (y)
 

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30's isn't all that bad but is a good excuse for a project car. I did the same after not having a car to play with for a good few years due to trying to be sensible.

Done a really good job on freshening it up, looks great! Engine bay looks brand new, keep meaning to tackle mine, but scared to use the jet wash.

Smoked brake light looks good, as you say blends it in nicely with the roof.

Look forward to seeing how this progresses.
 

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30's isn't all that bad but is a good excuse for a project car. I did the same after not having a car to play with for a good few years due to trying to be sensible.

Done a really good job on freshening it up, looks great! Engine bay looks brand new, keep meaning to tackle mine, but scared to use the jet wash.

Smoked brake light looks good, as you say blends it in nicely with the roof.

Look forward to seeing how this progresses.
Cheers, I've owned before what I would describe as being a project car (2001 Audi A4 springs to mind!), but this is the first time I've had a proper second car that's only for messing about with :)

As I said in the post, I wouldn't recommend anyone take a pressure washer to their engine bay but rather use a lower pressure hose with a spray gun and you shouldn't do any damage.

My next decision is whether to get LED tail lights in smoked or clear plastic...
 

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30's isn't all that bad but is a good excuse for a project car. I did the same after not having a car to play with for a good few years due to trying to be sensible.

Done a really good job on freshening it up, looks great! Engine bay looks brand new, keep meaning to tackle mine, but scared to use the jet wash.

Smoked brake light looks good, as you say blends it in nicely with the roof.

Look forward to seeing how this progresses.
Agreed my years start with a 4 from January, not sure where the 3's went TBH :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
 

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Something that's bugged me is the condition of the wiper arms; peeling paint and rust starting to appear at the end of them.





Removed them from the car and rubbed them down with medium and then fine grade sandpaper, before wiping them down thoroughly with Gyeon Prep.

I set up a very amateurish spray booth out of cardboard and resprayed the arms with Halfords satin black paint.



Also cleaned up the spindles whilst I had the wipers off.


Refitted to the car, and looking brand new :)



Cracking effort on these by the way mate, I ended up buying brand new ones for exactly the same reason 😜
 
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