1968 Morris MK II Mini Cooper S Restoration ~ Always Happy Life Project ~ Culver, Indiana

Ed and I have a fun new project! We’re about to restore my Mom’s (now ours!) right hand drive, 1968 Morris MK II Mini Cooper S into our Always Happy Life car! What could be a more perfect fun car? My mom imported this little beauty into the US from England in approximately 1972 and she used her as an everyday driver and for a little bit of rally race action. According to my mom, she can corner at 80 mph, which she told us with a smile. I’m guessing she knows from experience?!? We dusted her off in the garage where she has sat since 1977 a few months ago to get an idea of what we were dealing with. Auriel had gone into the shop for a new paint job and while there, the interior caught on fire. Since then, she’s been sitting in what was my Grandmother’s garage…and waiting for the day that someone would come along and give her some love. It’s been a goal of mine to put her back together since I was young. A 1968 Morris Mini Cooper is just too cool of a car to sit. She was pretty sad when we pulled the blankets off of her, but is in better shape than we had thought…even has her engine almost completely there, which we weren’t sure would be the case. We stopped in and talked to Doug at Mini-City, LTD for some tips and picked up their parts book and the manual he recommended. Doug actually imported the car for Mom back in the 1970’s and came out to look at her too and made some recommendations about things we’ll be needing to do. It’s great to have a knowledgeable resource only a phone call away!

We picked her up a few weeks ago from Fairport, New York and put her on car trailer for her journey to her new home in Culver, Indiana. We gave her a quick wash to remove some of the layers of dust and were surprised to find her paint job in decent shape as well. A color we can definitely live with until we’re ready to send her in for a new paint job. Our first priority is getting the Cooper running again though and then we’ll tweak her from there! Amazingly, the tires which were all flat and had been sitting since 1977 all held air when they were inflated. That made it a lot easier to roll her out of the garage and onto the trailer. It was amazing how small our little Cooper looked behind our giant F250 truck!

We made it safely home and unloaded Auriel into the Sail22 Speed Barn where we began cleaning her up. Apparently many mice and chipmunks had hung out and stashed their winter nut supply inside the car, so the shopvac was the first tool we tackled the job with. We pulled out all of the old dash insulation and any other sound proofing materials too, since they had a pretty musty smell to them and we’ll be upgrading them anyways. I sprayed her with some degreaser as well to clean up the interior body of the car and it also helped with the old musty smell. We also took an inventory of what we’ll be needing to get her running which includes a new radiator, gas tank, fuel lines and full exhaust system since these parts are all missing. We’ll need a carburetor kit as well to get her working again too and we plan to replace all wiring and gaskets, since it’s been over 30 years since she was on the road. We also plan on new tires and it sounds like the only ones we can get for the small ten inch wheels are made by Yokahama. 🙂 Of course, we’ll need to redo the entire interior as well and are planning to add new carpet and some Recaro style seats to give it the rally feel that she screams!

Just to give you an idea of the what we’re starting with, here are a few of the “before” photos that we know we’ll want to compare her to when she’s back to her old “new” self. Snapped them with my iphone, so excuse the quality. We did find her original Morris badges and her “s” for the boot and bonnet, which made her look better already!

Yesterday, we had a local mechanic at Wicked Racing come pick her up to begin the engine overhaul and restoration. He’s definitely excited about the car, which makes us very happy! I even had my first ride in Auriel, as I climbed into the driver’s seat to steer her onto the trailer. She’s going to be so much fun when we can actually take her out for her first drive!

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