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Bini Mandela: Slowly becoming less sh*te


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Folks.  I don't care that the subject matter of this thread is, relatively-speaking, basically a new car.  I'm calling it shite and anybody who disagrees after letting the pictures do the talking can vanish off up their own arse as far as I'm concerned.

With that out the way, here's the first bit of the tale.  I'll be brief.  Up until last August my wife was running this Astra Twintop of 2007 vintage.  Luxurious with the top spec "Design" trim level complete with comedy useless early built-in satnav tech, quick with the 2 litre Turbo motor.  Just about 34k on the clock at that point, and it had been treated to four new tyres the previous month.  Drove lovely.


She then decides that a Mini convertible would be the way to go.  Here's the newest one she could find within budget :


R57, registered mid 2010, Cooper S with the 1.6 turbo engine.  Looks alright eh?  





Ok, it has some wheel and tyre-related issues.




Admittedly, some perished rubber seals would want dealing with.




Granted, those wipers are shagged.


And those shitty, SHITTY "Cooper script" decals are way past their best, as are the faded and peeling bonnet stripes.



Chunk missing outa that A-pillar trim, and what about that aerial?





Someones only gone and nicked the COOPER S badges, but at least the bodywork's tidy, right?













Hmmm.  Well, at least it still has a full set of locking nuts, doesn't it?







So the background is that one of our local Polish car traders took it in as a part-ex against something better.  Usually he would smarten it up to punt on at a nice profit, but with his bodyshop man out of action he wanted this one off the books pronto and put it up for a couple of grand below the going rate.  I think most on here would have probably recommended walking away as rapidly as possible, but I can only conclude that I was high that day, because apparently we agreed a deal in which he took the Astra PLUS CASH against this tatty BINI.   Therefore it's been on fleet strength for the last seven and a half months.


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Yikes !!

I am sure you read up all about the engine in those but what ever you do keep an eye on the oil level. Like every other week.  Seriously.  Small sump and large appetite.  Coolant level too due to lots of plastic coolant parts and a super hot engine bay

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On 4/13/2021 at 10:01 PM, wesacosa said:

I am sure you read up all about the engine in those

🤭 Yeah....

The car did come with service history. Which amounted to an invoice from 2016 and another from 2018, one of which was a £400 fix for a coolant leak.



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1 minute ago, mk2_craig said:

🤭 Yeah....

The car did come with service history. Which amounted to an invoice from 2016 and another from 2018, one of which was a £400 fix for a coolant leak. 




If it had a BMW thermostat in 2018 should be ok for a bit. If it had a Euro car parts stat expect it to blow up any time soon (ask me how I know!)

I have had the misfortune of maintaining the Mrs' Cooper S for 6 years so if you need any advice on the other things to keep an eye on let me know

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It’s going to need a bit of TLC.  Quick clean up of those wheels, some new tyres (Falkens suit these) and a few rubbers and you’ll feel much better.  Break out the polish and most of those scratches will disappear.  Color Magic is your friend.......Whack on some new wipers (can recommend Bosch Aerotwins) and you will have a nice wee car.  

Better solution would be ditch those wheels, and get some 15” Rocket Or Teledial wheels instead as (a) they are nicer and (b) they will improve the ride biggly.  Plus tyres are cheaper.  

I bought a similar coloured R56 in 2008. Similar condition to yours, I just worked through it bit by bit and gradually turned it into a better vehicle.  Just say to yourself that you need to spend £750 to get it to a good standard and plan to keep it a couple of years. 

Oh and definitely change all the fluids!  Decent synthetic oil, good filters, clean the vanos solenoids, and even change the gearbox fluid (Redline MTL).  Don’t stress it, there’s a good car under all that.

edit - those brakes look awful so add one some discs and pads.  Everything will be seized so have fun!

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Watch those a pillar trims, a colleague had her early bini back to the dealer loads of times for a leak, and came to me when they quoted her stripping the entire interior out and £££ to try and find it. 

Used my spidey senses and followed the tidemark across the headlining and it was that whole front corner area I pumped full of tigerseal one lunchtime, and it never leaked again! 

What was confusing bimmer was it leaking from the rear vanity light in the headlining. Didn't think to them it was running across there and falling out of the first hole it could find, or Yvonne's head if she turned a corner or braked. 

Got a sausage roll from the van regularly for months after that! 


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check its had the recall done for the little heat shield above the turbo oil feed  (unless they had realised by ,2010 how shit the design was and done something about it) if not the O ring dries out in the heat, leaks and sprays oil over top of turbo (again, ask me how I know !!).  You have to take half the front of the car apart to change the pipe

Listen for chain rattle as the tensioner is crap and fails quickly with low or dirty oil. first sign is a light rattle at around 1200rpm cold.  bring the revs up slowly from idle to 2000 and listen for it coming in somewhere between 1200 and 1800 and disappearing past 2000. catch it now and its a cheap and easy tensioner change.  Next stage is cold knocking at idle and chance of chain skipping or plastic guides breaking so you don't wanna be there.   The vac pump drives can knock at idle which can make people think chain, but you can briefly disconnect the vac pipe to prove its the pump




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3 minutes ago, big_al_granvia said:

if its questionable rip engine out an change the chain, tensioner, guides and all the usual. that bini is rough but they are good motors and the bini scene is massive so loass of tuning and styling options

In theory the chain can be done in situ , its a cassette type chain and tensioner so it all drops in from the top , so only the crank pulley and sprocket needs attention at the bottom..That said access isn't great even when the front end is put in service mode so will be tight

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26 minutes ago, Liggle said:

On a serious note, what made you buy it? You must see something in it to be worth the chance/cost?

This! When I see these rough cars for sale, I do wonder who on earth would buy them. 

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I should point out that this thread is something of a retrospective, owing to the presence of "Avril Lagreen" in some of these photos (and indeed @Aston Martin is the one and only other shiter to have so far had the pleasure of travelling in BINI Mandela here).   So there'll be some rapid fire updates over the next few days bringing the story up to date.  The previous owner was a hackette at the local rag and as far as I can tell did nothing to the car apart from putting fuel in the car (and frequently bouncing it off the scenery), until something stopped it from proceeding:


So if nothing else, the stat housing was something we could probably forget about, for a while at least.  First thing to do seemed to be, bust out the cleaning gear to try and make it look a little less ruined:



Roof got a scrub.  Bad idea!  Not just because the brush disintegrated.  Later on I'll talk more about why washing the roof and hosing it down wasnt a good move.


Looks a bit better eh.  No show winner like, but some shine back at least.


Time for some improvement then.  Immediately after drying the car off I treated the windscreen to a set of new Bosch Aerotwins, which have long been my wiper blade of choice for the modern fleet:


Then I decided to have a closer look at those brakes:



Pretty grim.  To the motor factors!



Cracked right on:















Alright!! Went a LOT more quickly and smoothly than I feared, nothing seized or rounded off.  I made a start on the back end:



But without a suitable tool to wind that piston back in I decided that was a job my favourite independent garage could do instead.  Meanwhile, I ordered in some bolts to replace those absent locking wheel nuts, which judging by the state of the rims must have been forcefully and carelessly twatted off by whoever was given the gig of fitting new front tyres (one of the car's few good points) and moving the old fronts to the rear.  Shame the wheels are in such a state as I quite like them though Mrs_craig isn't fussed and would happily swap them for silver ones.  I couldn't believe how tight the threads were - amazing how much they had corroded after a few months of not having a bolt fitted.



Also checked whether there were any outstanding recalls.  This car spent the first four years of its life as GY10RKX and after export to Jersey must have slipped through the net.  I booked it in at the main local dealer for the heatshield to be fitted:



And lobbed it in with our usual mechanic for a quick service and erasing of fault codes.


Some ominous comments on the invoice there - stay tuned!



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  • mk2_craig changed the title to BINI cuntvertible: Fixing Mrs_craig's p*le of sh*te R57 Cooper S
3 hours ago, Split_Pin said:

G clamps are buttons from ebay, mine has been invaluable for brake piston plunging.

Glad you are getting on with things on it. Thermostat is an ugly job, keep your local garage sweet as nowhere round my area will touch Minis.

Same. I have a couple of g-clamps that only get used for brake calipers.

I also have a universal brake caliper wind-back kit with normal and reverse-threaded tools plus lots of adapters for different cars. Was something like £20 or so from ebay.

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11 hours ago, SiC said:

This! When I see these rough cars for sale, I do wonder who on earth would buy them. 

Us obviously.  We tend to look at them like mistreated pets and can’t resist giving them a forever home.  I felt sorry for mine, only reason I bought it.  Like Pokemon we sadly can’t catch them all 

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On 4/14/2021 at 9:10 AM, big_al_granvia said:

change the chain, tensioner, guides and all the usual.

Mm. So the advice from our garage (a Peugeot specialist who Sharon has used consistently since she had a 306 floppytop around 15 years ago) was that it might want this work doing sooner rather than later, given that it was a bit jerky when not under load and seemed to be getting through a tank of fuel incredibly quickly.  NFW was I getting the tools out for that, and I wanted them to fit the rear discs/pads that we had purchased as well, so it was sent back in a few weeks later.  I'm not attaching a picture of that invoice!

Our man said that the chain had (not unexpectedly) skipped a couple of teeth, and I saw what was left of the guides before they went in the bin, so this absolutely needed doing.  It's much better now, though I would say the car still isn't running quite right.  It's not impossible that there's still bits of plastic detritus in the sump which I gather might be affecting the oil pump, so that's potentially an issue to deal with before too long.  Fuel pump and throttle pedal may also be under suspicion.


Naturally, once home I set about sorting out another of the car's major problems.  Namely that of the number plates.  As opposed to getting to the bottom of something fundamental like its many paintwork imperfections or why there was water in the footwells. The rear plate wasnt too bad, but the front one had definitely seen better days, as visible in this picture of the car meeting a daft dug (insert jokes about it becoming even more fucked here)


All faded and non-reflective thanks no doubt to the double sided sticky foam and frankly being cheap shite in the first place.  Now this Bini had been imported by an independent car sales place back in 2014, and I have this weird thing about cars looking better if the plates are from the main dealer rather than some purveyor of secondhand tin, so they had to go.  First up though, I sensed something was missing:


Ah yes, it should probably have one of these.  Ebay!!


Dimples for the screw holes located:





And on with the plinth.  I did actually clean off the remains of the foam first.





Trial fit of the new front plate:



That'll do.  Protective film removed...




Error corrected


All done.  


Much smarter!



Did the back one too, fewer photos but you get the idea.  No plinth this time!  Never even checked to see whether one was available, in all honesty.  The fresh plates aren't exact replicas of what would have been fitted to the car in 2010, had it been registered here originally but I feel happier for having done it, a small touch maybe that somehow makes the car seem just that little bit less second rate...  I dunno.  Perfectionist streak perhaps.  Feel free to tell me I wasted time/money/effort on this when I could have attended to less unimportant matters.


On a similar note, around this time, Mrs_craig invested* in some chrome mirror covers off of that there Amazon.  They don't fit 😆

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