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Posts Tagged ‘Classic Austin Mini’

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:

http://www.minimania.com/part/MSG4/A-5-Speed-Helical-344-Final-Drive

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!

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Most days, I talk to people ordering parts that seem mismatched for a particular Mini. Our expertise with these cars enables us to notice when something like that jumps out at us, and often we are able to make a correction that can save the customer a great deal of time and money.
Today I had a gentleman ordering parts for his brother’s Mini in South America.  I noticed it was a rod-change 998 from the engine bearings and shift stub-shaft seal kit. So when the order included the larger Hardy-Spicer axle seals, and the very expensive Pin-drive Cooper S oil pump, I contacted the customer to get the real scoop. I was able to correct the order BEFORE it got shipped to Peru, saving the customer hundreds of dollars, and weeks of delay that would have resulted from getting a few wrong parts!
So many mistakes can be avoided by doing a little homework to properly identify your car, and thus be able to specify the right parts. Our own Chuck Heleker has written one of the most definitive articles for identifying a classic Mini…. Don’t let the level of detail intimidate you, simply scroll through to the sections that make sense to you! This information should enable you to identify just about ANY Classic Mini, and certainly enough to be able to order the RIGHT parts:

http://www.minimania.com/Mini_Identification

I have written a much simpler article that lets you identify which transmission and shift-linkage style you Mini has, which in turn, tells us the era your Mini, or at least it’s running gear came from. This lets us identify the major mechanical parts you need to be able to take care of most maintenance and repairs:

http://www.minimania.com/How_do_I_know_which_transmission_my_Mini_has

I know so much has been written over the years about this topic…. just look at the previous posts here! Still, not a week goes by that I don’t help a new owner figure out what they have, to give them the best chance of ordering the right parts! We want you to feel good about your Mini, and trust us to help you take care of it.

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