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A Ford Sierra Base.


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41 minutes ago, Mally said:

Does it have power steering?

I believe there are non power, hydraulic power, and electric column systems.

Mine are both electric, but it seems non power is the way for racing. I may try taking the fuse  out.



Great question.  I had to really think about that!

I remember seeing a power steering reservoir under the bonnet, so assume it's classic hydraulic?  I didn't think to pay attention as I just assumed they'd all have it.  

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5 hours ago, BorniteIdentity said:

I remember seeing a power steering reservoir under the bonnet, so assume it's classic hydraulic?  I didn't think to pay attention as I just assumed they'd all have it.  

They all had power steering except the base 'S' model (which also made do with 13" wheels, manual windows etc).  Yours looks like a GS - black bumpers but body coloured door handles.  I was quite set on buying one a couple of years back, so invested in a brochure!

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10 hours ago, BorniteIdentity said:

The back is the worst, and I'm looking to get this smartened up pronto.



A whizz over with some stone chip and a rattle can of Toyota Plum will see that tidy.

Leave out the 1970’s Escrot approach of that dry grainy Tetrisyl underseal with front valance and doors to match, like a high tide mark 

cheap car that

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16 minutes ago, BeEP said:

They all had power steering except the base 'S' model (which also made do with 13" wheels, manual windows etc).  Yours looks like a GS - black bumpers but body coloured door handles.  I was quite set on buying one a couple of years back, so invested in a brochure!

Yes, GS. I wasn’t sure what the equipment levels were but it feels like near base specification. I’d have been cross at myself if I’d got all that way for a car without PAS, and would have been amused at him having to make do! 

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Oh that's tremendous.

We had a couple as knockabouts (and occasional, during moments of desperation, courtesy cars) when I was a BMW sales droid in 2005. I took one home fairly frequently, and found them a pleasant change.  The off-centre digital dash in its strange time-and-space-distorting periscope was amusing to look at, and I found that rhythmic left-right wheel inputs would set up an addictive Newtons cradle-like oscillation. It was fun to match this with the tempo of whatever was on the radio, like some vast four-wheeled metronome. 

The sight of a silver Yaris barrelling along while swaying like a Louisiana palm tree must have entertained / terrified oncoming traffic to equal degrees.

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That was an absolute bargain and looks much better than any sub £200 I've seen for a while; great work on snapping it up.

Like you I haven't been a fan of them in the past, but they've aged very well and now look much more interesting than most things on the road. Reckon that's the perfect first car for your lad to learn in and tool around in for several years afterwards. Cheap to insure, tax and drive about in, and should last forever, can't think of a better car as an introduction to driving. 

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Very nice! As previously said they've aged very well. Must be dirt cheap to work on nowadays too? 

My stepmum had a T plate yaris once when it was fairly new, and it was nice to younger_me (but she then had a smart for-four brabus and then a golf r32 so we were tainted a bit...) . I've long since discounted them as cars to buy as they did hold their value well. 

Guess these are one of those cars to buy carefully as 'it's a Toyota m8, they go on forever, never need naaafink doing to them' must be a killer of these

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Time to unearth the Mini then. I tried to do this a couple of months ago, the plan being to get it to my friendly welder for an inspection, so I know exactly what is needed to make the undercarriage good. The problem was the clutch had, once again, seized.  My attempts to bleed it had failed, enter Alf892 stage left with his infinitesimal knowledge. Having bled it successfully, and completed the most complicated ritual to separate clutch and flywheel (revving the tits off it) we’re now mobile again. 

I took it for a quick blast and all is well. Off to Ken the Welder ASAP. I suspect I’m in for about £700 of metal alone, but he doesnt charge much for his time and I suspect he’ll fit it around other work for maximum value. 

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d drive it again this year - so eternal thanks to Alf. 

Here it is, having just been rained on for the first time in two years. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Right.  The Mini.  I've figured I'll never have the money just idly doing nothing.  Four kids, three loans, two mortgages and one car addiction will see to that.  However, there's absolutely no bloody point in having the thing if I can't actually use it as and when I so wish.  The (extended) MOT expired in November of last year and the anticipated cost of repair and improvement did dampen my spirits a little bit.  

Last year I took it to a fellow about 15 miles away who is the respected authority on fixing shit old Minis in the Kimbolton area.  His estimation to replace and repaint the front end, an inner sill, outer sill and various other items was about £1800.  Fair enough, but life (and COVID) got in the way and I just didn't bother.  

Enthusiasm increased somewhat following a visit from Alf 892 who helped me make it go, freed the clutch and then promptly disappeared again into the night.  This morning I took it up the road to a guy in our village who I'd never heard of before and never seen before.  Remarkable in a village of 500 people and about 8 commercial units.


The guy was very friendly, incredibly knowledgeable and evidently very very talented.  Concerns about him being a big "high end" for me were confirmed when he showed me a 1963 Porsche 911 that he's so far spent 850 hours on for a customer.  He suggested a figure not far away from £2,500 to just sort the front end of the Mini out, before even looking at the sills and rear subframe.  My estimation is that I'd be in for a bill of about £4,000 - and the guy with the Porsche about £53k. 

So, I finally managed to raise my man Ken who did such a bloody brilliant job on the Sierra.  As soon as I arrived he showed me his B reg Mini 25 that was his Mum's from new.  A good omen!  (It seemed rude to take a picture, but it was fabulous).  He poked about my Mini (fnar fnar) and immediately appreciated that I was trying to renovate and not refurbish this car.  He's confident that the nearside front wing is salvagable, as is the A panel, and that what we really need is a bonnet, offside front wing, offside A panel, some brightwork for the grille (probably a new grille in fairness) for the front.  Then a bit here and there in two of the sills, a small section in the floor and then a blowover of the rear lower panel and a mop all over to nearly match the paint!

He showed me how that door will come up and - whilst it won't be perfect - it's not bad.  If it fucks me off then I'll just ask him to do that too.


Ken wants £400 to do all the work at the front (with me buying the panels from Mini Spares) and probably (although he wants some yellow chalk lines from the MOT tester) another day underneath so £600 ish all in.  With the panels and the MOT I'm hoping job jobbed for under £1000.  Yes, I could learn to weld, paint, etc blah - but I don't have the desire to do so.  Better to pay someone who's done it their whole life and get a much, much better job!


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  • 4 weeks later...

There are many barometers and bellwethers to consider when buying a car.  Some obsess over service history and - whilst it's a lovely thing to have - it's never really concerned me whether the oil was changed on time 21 years ago. 

Then there's MOT history - quite a good indicator as to how a car has been maintained, but then again a lot of garages nowadays like to do the MOT ahead of the service (rather than the other way around) so a succession of fail/pass doesn't really tell you a lot.

For me - it's all about long term ownership.  If a car's been in the family for a long time, then it's usually had whatever it's needed and very often been loved.  And whilst the Yaris we bought for my son looks to have been repeatedly parked in a hedge every night for 8 years, it had a long term owner up until the summer when I bought it.

Yesterday I stuck it in for an MOT, worrying about what it would reveal! (I paid £180 and didn't even check the oil before driving home, never mind underneath!)

I call this a result.  It only needed brake pad, but am going to do discs and pads up front so we get a clean sweep.



Hurrah for 20 year old Toyotas.

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Ah but it's a Toyota it's what they do.

I never understand why people who need a reliable runabout dick about with anything French or German.

My weary old Hiace strolled through another Mot yesterday too without me even bothering to check the lights.

Ken looks like a knowledgeable guy too he's using 3M green top cutting compound that's £35 a litre and quality stuff.


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  • BorniteIdentity changed the title to MK4 Mini and various other tales.

So I had two MOTs booked for this week. The original plan was to send the Mini in first but, seeing as it’s not used at all atm, common sense prevailed and the Yaris took precedence. A clean pass following a set of discs and pads and I’m delighted with the £180 purchase of late summer. It’s a great buzzy little thing that feels like it’ll just keep on keeping on.

To the Mini then. It’s a funny old thing sending a car in knowing it’ll fail, but it was the preferred method for the welder and it gives me a rigid shopping list and the promise of a nice clean sweep. All told, not a bad result. It wasn’t a horror story at all, and told me all the things I already knew - and one or two surprises like the rear brakes (all new) and the engine mount. 

Going back to the Welder next week to form a plan. Parts bill will be expensive as I’m likely to bite the bullet and swap that subframe at the same stage. He’s going to smarten the front right up, polish the whole thing, and then we’ll be good to go. Plan going forward is ongoing titivating and a Charles Ware style rolling maintenance programme. 

Excited to have it back on the road. Minis are fucking brilliant. Endlessly flawed but amazing, special little things. 


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1 minute ago, Tommyboy12 said:

Sounds like the adjusters need winding in more but that's not a terrible list if you're getting someone to do the welding

Aye. We changed everything 2019 when I took it on. It’s just sat there doing nothing. A quick blow out and twist and we’ll be fine. My fault for not bloody using it really. 

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Spent this afternoon servicing the little Yaris. Whilst it’d had an oil service annually, there was little evidence of anything more than that. The plugs were fucking welded in, and the air filter was completed. It’s always more satisfying doing a service like this, rather than the maintenance stuff that’s kept the Avensis going at 268k. 

I had to spunk out on a can of PlusGas as the plugs really were stuck, and borrowed a proper deep socket from my neighbour as my plug tool just wasn’t man enough. 

Toyota sump plugs seem to be infinitely reusable, so I just bought two filters, four plugs and 5 litres of oil for £50. Value.

Unusually, the oil filter hadn’t been put on by a gorilla and there’s a handy gap through where the grille would be to unwind it. 

Even for a knob like me it took an hour and nothing went horribly wrong. On first start up there was an incredible cloud of blue smoke which I can only imagine was all the oil that went down the spark plug holes or something. It cleared immediately and runs like a little sewing machine. 

Underneath is absurdly good for one of these, not a thing currently to worry about on the corrosion front. It will be treated to some UB wax as there’s some left over in stock, but it’s a belter. Currently outlay is £430 now we have new brakes up front, new MOT and a good service. 


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I didn't tell you the best bit about the Mini MOT.  When I went to collect the car, it was sat just outside the workshop in a rather unusual place.  Didn't think anything of it - went to pay and spent 5 minutes talking to the tester about the car.  He showed me around it pointing out various fails, and then said...

"Oh by the way - it won't go.  We had to push it off the ramp and stick it here".


It did do this trick a few weeks ago when @alf892came over to free the clutch off.  So I wiggled the starter solenoid again but no dice.  We stuck a booster pack on and it went.  Fucking weird.  I thanked the man, paid the money, and drove home with max choke so as not to stall and strand myself.  

So yesterday I took the solenoid off, thinking it might be an earth issue.  Nothing like trying to get rusty screws out of rusty metal eh?  It looked all good but I have it a proper good clean up, cleaned all the connectors, quick blast of contact cleaner, put it all back together again?


Nuffink.  Swore a bit (this is my most effective means of attack usually) and still nothing.  Then, just by walking from the front of the car to the back of the car all the dash lights came on as if by magic.  Turned the key - click click - then dead again.  Farted.  Lights all went off.  Laughed.  Put meter across battery - 12.5v.  Voltage OK but could still be battery I guess - after all the thing started with a booster.

Called Alf.  Spoke about battery - his suspicions were at that end as I said the negative cable is loose (it's one of those where the terminal just sits over the battery post).  I gave it a wiggle and nothing.  Hung up the phone for some more professional swearing and then...


(This was after I twisted it at right angles.  Probably 5 or 6 strands broken)

Stuck jump lead on battery and earth terminal



I guess it's just broken down over the years.  New one ordered for the princely sum of £6.50 and I'll get that on later this week.  I was quite glad to clean up all those contacts on the solenoid anyway, one less thing to panic about going forward.

Off to the welders this week to work out exactly what I need to buy and how much I'll need to give him.  


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There's something satisfying about simple cars.  How a non starter can be fixed with nothing more than a battery meter, a probe on a wire and a jump lead.  After 15 minutes of dismantling the starter solenoid, we decided that it was the battery to blame - and that broken earth cable certainly looked like a potential candidate.  


I ordered up a £6.50 battery earth strap from a Mini specialist on eBay and it arrived 24 hours later.  Phenomenal.  It's braided as well which means that it looks fancy and will hopefully withstand another 40 years of earthing duties.


As you can see, the old one was just push fit which wasn't very secure.  Also, the battery terminals seem to be smaller on this too - so it was never tight.  I think this battery is actually for a Peugeot 306, but fits the hole beautifully with the terminals the right way around.  It also has a lot more grunt than something like this will ever require.

The new cable went on really easily.  For a moment I didn't think it would tighten sufficiently, but that red ring in the middle sort of squashes - so after I turned it a lot more than I thought I ought to, it's on tight.



Slightly soiled battery cover back on, securing strap down and boom.


I might try and smarten this and the rest of the boot up at some time.  Nothing OTT - just a bit of paint by brush.

Here's the old cable.  7 of the strands broken, so I think it'd done its shift.


One more thing.  I forgot to put the incorrectly branded earth plug on.  There's something wonderfully charming about a Freight Rover part being on a Mini.  You could say that they didn't care, but - actually - VAG are still doing the same thing all these years later really.  


Anyway.  Done.  Calling the welder tomorrow, hoping to go up Thursday or Friday to form a plan.



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Just now, SiC said:

Worth putting a battery vent tube in for keeping that boot floor looking rust free. 

Batteries vent small amounts of acid when charging/starting. This settles and causes rust over time. See MX5s that don't get the correct sealed battery put in. 

Mega helpful. Thank you. 

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Spent a couple of hours titivating the Sierra. I nearly sold the bastard earlier in the summer - but it was a wobble. My friend, Emma, who helped me collect it is now likely in the winter of life - and on another round of chemo - and it all felt wrong. Apologies to those who felt I was dicking about, it was such a difficult thing. It’s a difficult time. 


That said - anyone who wants to take the piss is welcome to do so. It’s a free world.

One thing we noticed when doing the clutch was a crispy end to the front subframe. Before winter bites, I did as dear Alfred instructed and attacked it with rust killer and some UB40 or whatever it’s called. 





Truth be told, it’s a tiny bit soft. It may need a tickle come the next MOT. Let’s see.

The boot? Well that hole got a whole lot fucking bigger. 


I sat and thought about life and the universe for a while. If I’m guilty of getting anything wrong, it was that I thought I could and should renovate this car. Truth is, it will need deep pockets - and at that stage it stops being this remarkable little car that’s survived everything. 

Bollocks to it. Its role on the fleet henceforth is as a van. Purely practical. The role it played so well for so many years. So I stuck some plop in the hole, covered it in Hammerite and called it “job’s a goodun” (which is a beautiful Suffolkism for “fuck it - that’ll be fine - I’ll forget about it soon enough”)


I’ve stuck some paint on since and it looks better.

As the man at the garage said. It’ll never be worth anything. Let’s just keep those wheels turning. 

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