Eight years ago the big Healey was finally finished, and then came the kids, so the big Healey had to go!
Seven years on, Isabel is seven and Ruby is four,urmm I think I will take a quick look on ebay to see what Midgets are on there ,the reason for looking, I had a love affair with one twenty seven years ago(where are you now KEL 899E ?)
Big mistake (financially) there it was in Midnight blue, the add said needing finishing!
Two weeks later I’m the proud owner of a 1972 Mk111 midnight blue Midget.
The body work had been partially restored by Charlie at Auto worx engineering during a quiet spell, the car was to be for his own use, but then trade picked up and was never finished hence the sale, Charlie said if I ever decide to sell, could he have first refusal, that’s two first refusals I now have as my brother said the same when he drove the finished car, he to was a midget owner in his youth, the nostalgia in these cars is hard to get out of your blood.
The body had been completely restored, except for no bonnet or trim fitted, engine and gearbox had been fitted complete with a MG Metro turbo strapped to it, but with no modifications to engine or brakes this gave me concern about the handling and stopping power of the car.
I decided to run the car for the summer with a scrap bonnet fitted that I had been given with the car, but I soon realised that without reducing the compression ratio and making sure the crank etc was all up to the job, this standard 1275cc engine was not going to last a day let alone the summer.
So I took the decision to take out the engine and box before I made things any worse, while the engine was out every thing else was stripped off back to the shell.
The engine was sent to Peter May Engineering for a complete rebuild to low compression turbo specification, Peter advised to go for strength so was only bored to 1310cc, everything was lightened hardened and balanced, a Titan belt conversion was fitted, head was flowed and polished and two extra studs added, so now a eleven stud head, Reprofiled cam and Aldon distributor were also fitted.
On refitting the rebuilt engine I decided to mate this to a Frontline five speed conversion, this is a fairly straight forward procedure except for a bit of cutting and grinding, I opted for the short remote version so the gear stick still exits the tunnel in its original position, the one thing I did change from the Frontline kit was to replace the clutch for a 7.5 inch rally clutch.
While the engine was out this gave me time to carry on with other modifications, adjustable Spax rear shocks were fitted complete with 1 inch lowering blocks ( which I later removed due to wheel arch rub on the 14 inch wheels)
My attention then turned to the front brakes as the standard ones came no where near able to handle the extra power, I did not know whether to go for a bigger disc conversion or Kad four pot aluminium callipers, which use Metro Turbo pads, after speaking to a Mini enthusiast, I went for standard cross drilled discs,Kad callipers and green stuff pads witch were soon changed for Mintex m1144.
Peter May negative camber top trunions and uprated anti roll bar were fitted, in my opinion this has to be the two best modifications to transform the handling of
a Spridget you can make at such little cost.
Once the engine and gearbox were refitted complete with new turbo and modified manifold, it was clear the bonnet would not shut properly due to the turbo plenum chamber being too high, in stepped Nick Evans a lecturer at Sandwell college, who thought this would be a good little project for his students to hand craft a bulge in the bonnet to allow for clearance.
A great job they did to.
After research on turbo’s, an uprated Avonbar adjustable actuator was fitted, Ford RS Escort Turbo fuel pump and a modified larger float chamber.
Thermostat was removed and a kenlowe fan was added.
Next up was a complete new interior to include some nice posterior hugging retro bucket seats from Cobra.
Within the first minute of seeing the car before purchasing it, I thought how good the Midnight blue would look with a white stripe front to back and a white works replica hard top, this image in my head would not go away until the restoration was complete.
Five hundred miles have now been completed and everything has bedded in nicely, so car polished and running well we took a trip to South mids classic car meeting, on the journey home a pot hole helped the bonnet catch come undone, thirty seconds later once the wind got under the bonnet it ripped off the safety catch and the bonnet slammed into the windscreen at approx 70mph ! not a pleasant experience, Bonnet pins had been purchased but I had not got round to fitting them!
So obviously pot holes don’t just wreck wheels, I didn’t bother trying to explain this one to the Highways Agency.
So as this goes to print it’s all in bits again, hopefully all done for Silverstone live, the classic car revolving door continues.
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