As I have already said on more than one occasion I had an accident on the 9th January 2013 which left Bess in a rather poor state of repair. Many of the jobs the previous owner had done in an attempt to repair her were done very poorly and that poor workmanship came to light once in the body shop and although the accident damage was bad it was nothing compared to the horrors that were to be discovered once the repair work got underway.
I chose to go with Chris and his crew in Passfield, Hampshire (http://www.candscoachworks.co.uk) as he sounded to me to be passionate about his work and he truly sounded like he cared about the restoration of the car.
I had to initially jump through hoops to get her back as my insurance company wrote her off as it was thought the repair work was going to cost more that the car was valued! She was taken away on a flat-bed but some bunch of cowboys who promised she would be put in a hanger or garage until the discussion to either have her scrapped or returned to me was made. Did they, NO!! It took some 4 weeks to get her back and when she got back she was covered in bird crap, wet inside, carpets were filthy and she had been abused, I was so damn fuming but I could prove nothing. They dumped her outside my house on a Thursday and I had her collected on a Sunday morning by Chris, she had to be dragged onto the trailer as she had a totally flat battery and the work to dismantle her began a few days later and with that the repair bill just kept growing.
When I purchased her I was told by previous owner he had personally done the welding, thinking back now that was that point the alarm bells should have started ringing but he came over as very knowledgeable and a capable mechanic. It was later discovered that the welding and other work he had done was a mess with gaps found where a putty like substance was used to fill holes prior to the accident and all that putty was dislodged on the impact of the crash. Panels were found to be rotten, covered in rust with large gaping holes throughout, these holes were allowing water to get in to the car causing further damage. Electrical cables were found to be put together in a way that a five-year old child would have been embarrassed about, hydraulic pipes were found to be capped or damaged probably endangering all those travelling within and all these problems had to be repaired and the money in my repair fund was being constantly stretched to the limit. Unfortunately I was admitted to hospital for some surgery and all these issues were being relayed to me via email along with the pictures showing the poor state the Mini was in.
The next time I saw her she was raised on a platform (picture above) with all her damaged panels removed which had been laid to rest in front of her and it was a large pile. I was told that further damage had been discovered, they included the rotten and rusty floor plates, the doors were in a poor state, the boot door was rusting, the seals were failing and rotten, the bonnet was rotten – o my stop, it became so bad I thought it would end up in the scrap yard.
But they just did it, all of it and well and I just kept asking them to do other little jobs like re-spray the front interior as it looked awful with black floor plates. New doors were sourced from a chap in Preston (http://www.minidoor.co.uk), I sourced panels from ‘Mini Spares’ (http://www.minispares.com) an online supplier as well as eBay and other online and local shops. eBay gave me huge savings at times but some sellers are so damn unreliable, liars and bring shame to the whole system, but it has to be said in all most are honest and sold me some exceptional items.
I have to say that Chris and his team were exceptional, yes there are still issues and there probably always will be after all the Mini was a car built to last 7 years and was made to be affordable to all. Bess (as I call her) is now over 30 years old and her engine has seen us travel from Portsmouth to Carlisle to Perth to Inverness to Loch Ness and Fort William to Edinburgh Castle to Leeds and back home in Portsmouth and all in five days and we NEVER had a single issue with the engine or the car to be fair other than a bit of water getting in and that is going to be resolved soon. I have managed to buy a mess of a Mini and restore her back to her former glory and we are now enjoying her whenever we can, wonderful!