Jul 16, 2013 update to the Austin Mini Cooper S project car

Metalwork Resumes in Earnest

The old grille surround had been brazed on incorrectly. A torch is the quickest way to remove old braze.
We cut out the rust from the cowl area with a cut-off wheel. Since we don’t have the inner patches, we’ll have to make them ourselves.
You need the right tools to do this type of work. Eastwood’s 3/8” Double-Ended Spotweld Cutter kit helped us remove the old sheet metal relatively easily.
We now have the front end removed, and we’ll need to fix the rust in the cowl net, before we start welding new sheet metal onto the front of the car.

Our next step was to get back to the metalwork.

The left front fender had been crumpled and badly repaired. The grille/headlight surround panel had actually been ripped in half and also poorly repaired. The right front fender, while seemingly original to the car, had been removed and brazed back onto the car in the wrong position. The cowl where the fenders attach also had some rust issues on both corners. In other words, the front end of the car was completely shot and would need extensive rebuilding.

Fortunately, the sheet metal was relatively inexpensive from Mini Mania at less than $500 to repair the entire front end—and we love to weld.

We had already removed the right front fender in the priming process. Next, we need to cut off the left front fender as well as the grille surround. At that point, we have only the two front inner fender pieces. This is the only body structure ahead of the firewall.

When putting the car back together, the trick would be to get everything lined up perfectly. To do this, we have to use the original inner fender panels as guides. Then, bolt the subframe back in to the body to make sure it fits correctly, and line up the fenders with the grille surround and cowl.

Before we do anything else, we need to work in a logical order, so we need to fix the cowl before we weld on the fenders.

It was an itsy bitsy, teeny-weeny rally-winning project Mini. Subscribe to Classic Motorsports and get them in your mailbox.

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