|THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.1|
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| The cheapest way to do it is to retain the original front. With the majority of the inner wings removed it is surprising how light the front is. The problem with this is you have to be neat around the exposed edges like the A panel/wing joint and the scuttle wing joint.|
This is how we did it.
The tools used were an angle grinder and a couple of hacksaw blades held with mole grips. Use the Hacksaw blades on the cuts that need to be thin or where access is bad and the angle grinder for the rest.
Before you start, untwist the wrapping around the front section of the loom from in front of the dizzy back to about half way up the inner wing. This is to allow plenty of room for a connector. Work out approximately where you want the connector for the lights to be mounted (I mounted it on the brace bar – more about this later) and cut the loom. Don't forget to disconnect the battery first! First off, cut from the scuttle down the joint between the inner wing and the outer wing right down in the corner which so that you leave a vertical edge of the outer wing joined to the wing. This cut goes from the scuttle to just in front of the triangle that goes from the top of the inner wing down to the cross bar at the back of the engine bay. Then do the same on the other side.
Now do a cut which disconnects the inner wing from the car apart from about an inch at the top of the inner wing. Then do the other side. Now, if possible, remove the seam strips on the A panel/wing joint. Now cut up in front of the seam using a hacksaw blade.
The front should now be disconnected apart from the scuttle, top of the inner wing and the front sub mounts. Cut the top of the inner wing and remove the front mounts. The worst bit was separating the wing/scuttle joint. At some point between the mid-1970’s and 1989 they started spot welding this joint. Before this they just had filler so it is just a matter of splitting the filler. The front should now lift away.
That is the scary bit over with! Decide how much of the inner wings you want to keep and cut the rest away, The more you keep the more rigid the front will be, but it will also be heavier. Brace bars - we formed these from a bit of angle iron which sits on top and down the front of the subframe and bolts on to the subframe using the bolts from the front mounts. These need to stick out the side of the subframe by a few inches. Then you take some fairly heavy box section steel and bolt it to the inner wing above the damper bracket to the ends of the angle iron. Now on a round nose you will need to modify the front to clear the angle iron. Fixing the front back on is easy. Weld some largish washers over the front mount holes and use these to locate the front of the front, then nuts are put on to hold it in place. The other fixings are over centre clips which are on the inside of the wing and A panel joint and are mounted so that the only clue that they are there is the outer ends of the bolts that hold the clips on. There is also a plate which comes forwards on the inside of the A panel and stops the wings from wobbling in and out.
Then all you have to do is fix things like the washer bottle, air horns and starter solenoid to the brace bars. Then sort out your electrics. Touch up the paint, and sort out a new way of fixing the bonnet on to complete the effect. I used bonnet pins.