Compromise is a word used quite a lot when it comes to classic Minis. One of the big ones is to decide if highway driving is a priority over back roads and rapid acceleration. Most of us really want to be able to drive our Mini places, and that means on the highway…. at least a good part of the time. To accomplish this with most of the standard 4-speeds that virtually all versions of the Classic Mini came with, we can choose to install a taller final drive to get our top gear RPMs down to a more reasonable number.
But, even with a big engine making plenty of torque, there is a compromise to be made! Those nice high final drive gears for freeway driving now make it harder to get off the line, because they affect ALL the gears. A very common complaint with Minis is that the clutch can get hard to engage smoothly, known as “chatter” or “judder”. A high first gear will take more slippage to get the car moving, and the relatively primitive clutch of the Mini results in glazing the flywheel, disk, and backplate. This will make your Mini shake and buck, particularly while reversing! It’s not a coincidence that Minis that work great on the highway can rattle themselves – and your nerves – and your engine mountings with violent off the line shenanigans!
The solution? The same one all modern cars employ! Give the car longer legs with an extra gear! Over the decades, a lucky few have experienced some of the custom 5-speeds that have been offered for the Classic Mini. They have never been cheap or common…. remember, it was viewed as a major automotive milestone to package the Mini engine with FOUR speeds. It was the first successful mass produced transverse front wheel drive layout after all!
Unfortunately, some of the 5-speeds have been frankly awful. Poorly executed design and attention to details meant some could be nearly impossible to shift! And if you needed parts? Often, you needed a machine shop to make them!
But, take a look at what we managed to get and have in stock and on sale even… probably the most refined of the five speeds for a street car, these have a lot more purpose-built components, rather than modified used parts harvested from the standard 4-speeds as done ‘back in the day’. They feature very well thought out gear ratios with custom made input gear (also called ‘first motion shaft’) matched to it’s own laygear with revised tooth counts to achieve a very close match in 1st through 4th to the Cooper S of the 60s. 5th is a true overdrive, and with the 3.44 final drive results in an effective final drive of 3.03, perfect for the highway! And all in the latest A+ helical cut gears for durability and quiet operation. The MSG4 in stock has the standard open diff. Also available for order is the MSG5 featuring a street-friendly cross-pin diff, as well as other versions with full straight-cut gears and LSD. These have been made for at least two decades by MiniSpares in the UK, improved and refined over the years, and have been the best supported and serviceable of the 5-speeds:
One of us had one on order for most of a year and when it was ready we were informed that another one from the production run was still available. So we grabbed it to be able to offer it to you, so your Mini can be happy on America’s highways! Over the last few years it has taken many months to actually get one, but here it is! No compromise 5-speed overdrive means you don’t have to give up acceleration and back-road performance to relax on the highway! Call and talk to me if you have any questions!