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Mini Restoration a mammoth undertaking

Posted: 3pm 13 Mar 2020

It's just as fun to drive a Morris Mini now as it was when Ian McKinnon was a teenager but his 1971 Mini K is a sweeter ride.

Upon completing TAFE courses in panel bashing, painting, and welding, the Eatons Hill resident spent about 18 months repairing the car himself.

Twelve years ago Ian bought the car from a young man in Bundaberg who had always planned to restore it but had not finished it. The car was painted yellow with pink stripes, had pink wheels and even a purple engine.

Back then, Ian was already working for the Department of Transport and Main Roads as a policy advisor and lacked the expertise and resources to complete the restoration to the level he desired.

So, in his spare time, he enrolled at TAFE and gradually built up his tool collection before making a start and working on the car.

“The hardest part was trying to find the time to put it together … a few hours each weekend,” Ian says.

It was also a challenge to do this on his own but he gradually cut out all the rust and replaced panels with genuine parts, including the front end.

With no hoist in his shed, he became creative, putting the car on a wheeled stand so that he could move it around while working on it.

“Because the car was not that heavy, I could just wheel it around,” he says.

The result is a beautifully-restored vehicle, painted British racing green, with sparkling chrome grill, bumper and trims.

“People think it looks good. I’m pretty proud of how it looks finished. It’s a job I took on without any experience,” Ian says.

He says that it is a reliable car that hasn't really let him down, except for a few minor maintenance problems that were easily repaired.

So, what’s it like to drive compared to the Mini Morris 850 he had as a 16-year-old?

“When I used to drive one I used to think `I hope they (other drivers) see me’ because they’re so small, but that doesn’t worry me now,” Ian says.

“It’s good fun. It seems really zippy because it’s so close to the ground and you feel it’s going fast. It has a few rattles and things but that’s OK. The motor’s pretty good.”

Ian’s a member of the Mini Owners Club of Queensland and his car is a regular at the RACQ Motorfest in July every year and at the car club’s Mini Muster.

“Everyone knows someone who owned a Mini,” he says.

“People smile and wave as you go past. I think it’s all good fun.”

And the Mini K is special. They were produced only for a short time, with low protrusion door handles on the cap for pedestrian safety, a classic front and round badge on the bonnet.

“It’s fairly unique and you don’t see too many of them. Even if I’m parking in the car park, people will stop and take a look,” Ian says.

Visit miniownersclub.com.au to find out more about Minis or to join in the fun.

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