Looking to the rear — 16 Comments

  1. I miss my Mini

    Long wobbly gear lever.Stuck to the road like shit to a shovel


    Ah, those quotes bring back memories – every part I can identify with, even down to the "stick on" rear screen heater! I found the extra current it drew would exceed the measly output of the Lucas C40 dynamo with the lights on. If I kept in on for too long the battery would run down, signified by the (already dim) headlights getting even dimmer.  With the non inertia reel seatbelts (which saved my neck when I put it into a ditch, one frosty night) properly tightened, I couldn't reach the panel mounted switches for lights & wipers, but you could buy some clever extensions which simply pushed over the toggles. The "long wobbly gear lever" once gave my a fright – I made a VERY enthusiastic get away from the lights once, and suddenly found myself with no drive. I thought I must have broken some part of the transmission, but all that had happened was the engine rocked in its mountings when the wheels spun, and the gear lever simply jumped into neutral! Then there were the well-known problems with the ignition system in the wet – I must have tried every suggestion going, including a "Marigold" rubber glove fitted over the distributor & HT leads…

    Happy days.


    • Hah! I used to have exactly the same problem with it going into neutral after a spot of hard acceleration, caused by the mountings.  In the end, the mountings failed altogether.  I tried starting the car to go into work and there was a loud thump from the front.  I checked under the bonnet and found that the engine had fallen out and was sitting on the ground.

      You forgot to mention the Constant Velocity Joints?  😈 

      • I had the upper engine tie rod bracket fracture one night. I then had the rather tricky job of driving home without letting the engine be driven by the car. In other words, accelerating and driving at a constant speed was O.K., but I had to depress the clutch as soon as I took my foot of the throttle.    

        Constant Velocity Joints?

        I never had any bother with them – or the rubber bush type inner driveshaft joints. Considering how I drove (i.e. thrashed) it, that is rather surprising!

  2. I had a Renault 6 for £400 and it was indestructible. One day returning from Kerry I pulled the gear lever back to get into fourth and the damned lever just kept on coming. I got the car stopped with the dashboard mounted gear stick now lying against the back of my seat. Checking under the bonnet I discovered the gear stick ran from the dash, across the top of the engine, (a long pole type thing), and then kinked down behind the grill. Whatever connected it there to the gearbox was gone. So I got some wire from the boot, slipped it through holes at the end of the pole and similarly to two holes on the gearbox casing and then used a pliers to twist it all into place. It worked a treat and I was soon back motoring. 

    Two years later I sold the car for £520, (the guy wanted it badly), and the gear lever was still held on with wrapped wire and still working. God be with the days. I ate, drank and stank in it.

    • I used to drive a Renault 4 van [supplied by work – not a vehicle I would buy myself].  It had the same gear lever arrangement.  The whole vehicle felt like it was held together with string and chewing gum.

  3. I have just about finished the rebuild of a Morris 1000, which is  intended to become the household 'second car', keeping just one newer one for long journeys and the Morris for local trips to the shops etc or if the missus and I need to go to different places at the same time. Now we are retired it doesn't have to cope with poor driving conditions, if it's nasty outside we stay home. It does have wind-up windows, and a heater, but almost everything else is similar (or mechanically identical) to the Mini. The simplicity is such a joy!

    • Make sure you keep the lower front suspension joints well lubricated! Those of us of a "Certain Age" will remember seeing a "Moggie" broken down, half way round a corner, with the inside wheel sticking out at an alarming angle…

        • You've been at the whiskey again!  The Morris 1000 was rear wheel drive, and devoid of  CV joints. The front suspension problem I mentioned was due to a peculiar type of swivel joint, which (as I understand it) is basically a large nut and bolt. This winds up and down as the front wheel is turned left or right by the steering, and is fine as long it's in good condition, and properly lubricated. If it isn't, the thread eventually wears so badly that it can jump out of engagement, leading to the wheel sticking out at an angle, and the lower wishbone digging into the road surface. This nearly always happened when going round a corner, and the wheel hitting a pothole. As the "Spring" is a torsion bar acting on that lower wishbone, this joint is always in tension, rather than compression like the majority of vehicles. The company I once worked for ran lots of Minor vans, and the workshop supervisor claimed that it was usually possible to jack up one which had broken down, at the side of the road, and re-engage the thread thereby allowing it to be driven (VERY carefully) back to the yard for a proper repair…

  4. What luxury you guys had, my first was a 1958 Wolseley 1500, cost me a tenner, it was a rusty shed.  But I rebuilt it, engine, body, interior and that £10 taught me more than I needed to know about cars.

    My current motor has more cameras than the BBC and more computer power than took men to the moon, but it's still not got the sense of satisfaction from a successful journey that the old Wolseley delivered.

  5. I bought a 1958 Mini in '68.  It was No. 680, a very early production one, when they were still having minor modifications done – noticeably mine had a short straight gear-stick rather than the long, cranked one mentioned above by GK.

    Many happy hours were spent in it, and many young women were attracted by/to it (which of course, was the idea!).  It was red, like yours, which the ladies liked.

    • That's interesting – the later Mk11 Mini's had a shorter gear lever operating through a remote linkage, rather than the long lever going straight to the gear box. Maybe they didn't consider spending the extra to begin with? Rather predictably, for British Leyland, the same linkage was used on the later Allegro, Maxi & Princess cars. They just made it longer, and mounted it on very soggy rubber bushes, hence the sloppy gear selection. I replaced them with the ubiquitous circular rubber exhaust mountings, which made a huge difference…

  6. I knew a man who was at a mart in Cork where he bought a calf at a bargain price. He unscrewed the front passenger seat and put it in the back, behind the driver's seat, and then drove from Cork to Nenagh with a calf beside him – in a Mini.

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