Starting work on the shell…

Today’s task – assess what I just bought, and start stripping more stuff off it.

Because of the damage to the front left wheel (more later on this), I can’t just roll the car on and off the tow dolly… dragging is required. Every load/unload requires some engineering…
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What could POSSIBLY go wrong here? Other than pulling down the garage, or having the shell (with no brakes) roll into the BMW?

Well, nothing went wrong. Everything worked as planned.
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It’s amazing, how high the car sits, with the stock suspension, on 18″ GP wheels, with probably 1000 pounds removed. The side skirts are 10″ off the ground here!
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Here’s the main issue with the rolling shell… it doesn’t roll.
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The primary failure mode when you hit something with the front suspension, or when something hits you there, is the lower control arm (“A-arm” or “wishbone”) folds, allowing the wheel to move rearward, to the point it contacts the wheel well liner and the body underneath the liner. Then you basically have something you have to drag around, or put on dollies to move.

Here’s a view most folks have never seen… what a MINI cabrio looks like, with everything including the top removed.
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Click the image to open in full size.

There’s a lot of stuff here that I really don’t need… might be able to trim some sheet metal out. And there are two beefy frame rails that are normally hidden by trim in the boot… that may be great attachment points for roll cage bracing.

Got the car on the lift. Here’s Locutus Mk1, and Mk2, together.
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Time to assess what’s underneath.
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Last owner said he had been unable to unbolt the header from the exhaust. What he didn’t say (or realize, probably) was that he left a wrench on there. And, amazingly, it stayed on over 250 miles of bouncing on a tow dolly.

Took some doing, but I got the header and exhaust off. Wrung off one of the studs in the process. Dropped the heat shields to access the shifter and cables for removal.

Underside of the shell is really clean, a little rust on a few studs, but none on the shell itself. But the subframes… have some rust.
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Click the image to open in full size.

That’s OK, it’s not much for a 9 year old car from the snow belt. And I plan to use either my other clean subframes, or new ones. This car only has about 10% as much rust as the GP I bought…

Apparently this is a special MINI built for circle track racing. Right side wheelbase is 96″ like normal… but left wheelbase is only about 91″….
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That’s what happens when you fold up a front lower control arm. But will be just fine with some new suspension bits.

Here’s what’s revealed with you pull off the crushed left front wheel, and the wheel well liner. The only damage I’ve found on the whole shell…
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Tweaked the bottom of the A-panel a bit, and mushed the exposed end of the lower frame rail below the headlight washer tank, and a bracket for attaching the skirts.

I think I can straighten out the bracket and the A-panel. The rest won’t matter… the washer tank is coming out, and the wheel well liner will hide the tiny amount of frame damage, that has no structural impact. Strut towers, frame rails, subframe all look fine.

I thought I’d swap on the LCA from the GP… but that one is rusted solid to its knuckle ball joint. And it’s quite rusty overall. I’ll either find another used one locally (a local salvage yard has a couple, I’ll check them tomorrow), or will buy new ones. Need to get that swapped so the car will roll. That, plus a bit more work to strip the interior, and it will be ready to haul to the cage fab shop.

A stripped cabrio shell is VERY light. I can’t wait to get this thing completely built and weighed. It’s gonna be light-ish.

Curb weight of convertible was 165lbs more than hardtop… BUT
The cabrio body shell (bare) weighs 233kg… the hardtop bare shell weighs 244kg!!!
And the cabrio tailgate is lighter than the hardtop hatch, with glass.

With all the top, extra cabrio bracing, factory roll bar, etc. removed, my final build will be lighter than a similarly equipped, caged hardtop.
The cage is only about 60-70 pounds of steel… so even compared to an un-caged car… it’s gonna be pretty light.