Got up this morning, and buttoned up the engine bay. Header heat shield, strut bar, IC air diverter plate.
Click the image to open in full size.

Then, the rain stopped. 4 months and 175 working hours into this project… this happened…

Bliss. Still have plenty of work to finish things up, and the TVS stuff will be here soon… but I’m loving actually DRIVING again. Drove 50 miles today. Between two drives, I learned to align the car and installed the side skirts.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Zero toe front, a little toe in rear, reasonable camber, all good. Learned a lot of alignment tricks. I doubt I’ll pay anyone to align a Mini again.

So it’s still new-to-me… and I’m getting to know it, and babying it a bit (since the newly refreshed clutch started slipping at high revs; I need to let it break in before I destroy it). But, some initial thoughts:

It’s a very raw, visceral car. The OSG diff does all that chattering LSD stuff. The OSG STR clutch rattles when it’s in. At idle, the car sounds like it’s a giant cat purring, ready to slay and eat a wildebeest. Then it pulls like a freight train and sounds like a race car. There’s all manner of little squeaks and stuff from the interior, with the tight fitting dash, door bars, etc. The suspension is stupid firm, but not at all harsh. It steers like a laser scalpel. It requires very little input to do anything… just a thought, really. It demands respect. While it has good manners, you’re constantly aware that if you disrespect it, do something stupid, or give it too much input, it would go ballistic in the blink of an eye.

IMO, it’s the best MINI I’ve ever driven. It should be, given what’s in it… but it’s still a little surprising, because I’ve driven some very nice cars. And this thing was just three totaled Minis, a few months ago, plus a mountain of new parts.

Tomorrow will be cold. And I’ll be driving.

I’m really, really, really happy.