I would like to share the story of my mini who has become know to me as Bess, named after the highway mans horse because of her power, speed and determination to just keep on going.
I purchased her from a man who lived in the Waterlooville a part of Portsmouth in Hampshire for £2500.00 which at the time I thought to be a bargain. It did however become apparent that it was not so, once the rain started to fall and the inside of the car kept getting wet, but from where?
Initially we drove her all over Portsmouth to see how she ran, find any problems and in doing so we had a great time. As time was going by we were find the odd fault here and there and I’d take it back to BTE in Bordon where the repairs were done by a chap called Dave, fantastic workmanship at times.
I had a new dashboard put in initially with three new dials you know, battery performance, engine pressure etc. all purchased at shows or on eBay. I had chrome put in (rear view mirror and interior door handles), new thick carpets and underlay as the floor was so cold all the time, new better looking steering wheel, suspension improved and raised as the tyres kept catching the top of the hubs, a major service done as it was found that the oil was as thick as crude and there was absolutely no coolant in the header tank.
Then the rain fell and it just kept falling and wherever we went the rain water kept coming in and those new carpets were getting ruined, having to be taken out all the time to be dried before being put back in. So she was in the garage to have a hole filled then another hole and this just kept going on, costing a fortune.
On the 9th January 2014 I was struck on the right side after pulling out in front of someone, yes my fault, I just did not see the car coming in the exceptionally heavy rain and very dark morning, no lights on the car or street lighting – nothing! The impact was quite intense pushing the car around full circle it felt, leaving a fair amount of damage to the right hand side. But thankfully no one was hurt other than my pride.
I took some pictures of the car after the smash, to be fair they do not show any of the real damage, steering column, suspension and panel damage. But they can be seen at the bottom of this page, just let the images scroll along and watch.
So now I had to inform the insurance company, they were to be fair very helpful. But without even sending anyone to look at the car they wrote it off. Said it would be too expensive to repair, that is even after I begged them not to.
A recovery company called Co-Parts called and arranged collection, I informed them I would be buying the car back and having her fully restored and I asked that they looked after her, took nothing out etc. They took the Mini to their yard in Kent where I was told she would be under cover and looked after. She wasn’t, she was returned to me some 10 days later, covered in bird crap, sweet wrappers left inside and the carpets were once again all wet. Another promise not upheld.
Now the work and expense really started, I had to firstly find someone willing to repair her with the love and passion she deserved. I found Chris, he owns a company called C and S Coachworks in Passfield near Liphook in Hampshire. He came early on the Saturday morning strapped her to his recovery truck and trailer and took her away.
At this point my health took a bit of a hit and I went into hospital so all correspondence took place from my hospital bed, thank god for the iPad. An assessment of the damage was done and a list of work was passed to me, and like everything that list kept growing with the pound notes (mostly grown on trees) going in the general direction of C&S Coachworks as the jobs just kept growing the more she was taken apart.
The work that had to be done included the following:
• Replace the left and right front panels
• Replace the scuttle
• Replace the front panel
• Replace the drivers and passengers floor plates
• Replace both doors
• New bonnet
• New bumpers
• Replace the boot door
• Replace steering rack
• And so much more
But like everything the list continued to grow, boot door was rotten – replaced, both doors were rusting – replaced, the sills were rusted and they to were replaced. I actually forget what else was done but it was, anything that needed to be repaired or replaced was to the exception of the engine and the engine bay being painted which I really wanted to do.
Once put back together she had to be rubbed down completely and be undercoated, rubbed down again until she was smooth all over then re-sprayed. I wanted her to remain red but I wanted the shade of red to be the brightest of reds and because the two floor plates were replaced I had the inside front half resprayed also and she now looks great.
In April 2014 she was completed, she had to undergo another MOT inspection and a couple of other damaged components from the impact were discovered and repaired. Obviously we still have things to do on her and we probably always will have and they will all be done as time goes by, but we can take our time now.
I would like to have the interior completely redone in leather, Id like the engine to be removed and have the engine painted as well as the bay, whilst the engine is out have a new clutch put in.
But for now we intend to enjoy her by driving her around the country increasing the distances as we go. I was planning a trip to Rinteln in Germany in June 2014 in her but that may now be shelved? But the summer solstice is here soon and we will be going to Stonehenge that weekend with many more trips planned.
I would like to take this opportunity to thanks everyone that has been involved in the repair process C & S Coachworks for their magnificent work, Bte Bordon for their continued support, my friend Arthur for him driving back and forth whilst she is in the garage and of course my wife Andrea – for letting me just do what I want to do and because I can!!