Had Two Women and got a little head last night

Get your mind out of the gutter. Lots more info below.

I’m very fortunate to have a neighbor who is very familiar with the Classic Mini 998cc engine. In fact, his old Mini is on display at a local dealership. He sent me a message that he was looking to get rid of his old cylinder head from his new toy, a supercharged Austin-Healey Sprite.


Pretty incredible timing, as I hadn’t even mentioned to him that I was planning on ordering a head gasket earlier that day. In fact, I hadn’t spoken to him at all since last summer. Weird timing.

So why is this head a big deal? It’s a highly-coveted 12G295 cylinder head from a Cooper, and it’s had all the work I need done already.

It has a larger combustion chamber than my stock head, but it’s already been skimmed so that it matches the compression ratio of my 998. It also has hardened valve seats, which means I can start running unleaded gas! He had it in his Sprite for about 3000 miles after it was machined so it’s got some signs of use, but it should bolt right up.


This also matters because my Mini is way way down on power. They say the 998cc had 38hp from the factory. I can barely scratch 60mph downhill, so something isn’t right. Hopefully a quick once-over of the top half should get me back into shape.


I’ve got a new intake and exhaust planned in addition to the new head. A cleaned and re-tuned carb alone should get me back a lot of what I’m missing (hopefully), but the claimed power gains from the new parts are not insignificant:

- 12G295 cylinder head and high-lift rockers - 8-10hp (and significant improvement across the powerband)


- “Stage One” kit (intake/exhaust manifold, full exhaust, carb needle) - claimed 20% power increase and 12% torque increase.

(I’m very seriously considering taking it to a local dyno day once I get it out of storage, but before I do the work. I’m so curious to know exactly how much power it’s lost in 40 years. Plus, that’ll give me a nice idea of how worthwhile the work I do this year is.)


I’ve got a friend who’s finishing a VTEC B18 Mini, which should be incredible. I was initially planning the same thing, but after hearing some of the issues he ran into (plus the cost), I’m content keeping the 998 for awhile and seeing what it can do.


My goal for 2016 is to not have the slowest time of the day at an autocross event. I was close in 2015!

I am very excited.

As an aside, here’s a picture of my neighbor’s Sprite:


And a video of it running with the 295 head is below. It has a more aggressive head and cam now, but it still sounds fantastic. He’s put a decent chunk of change into the new head this winter (well actually, two of them since one wasn’t quite what he wanted) and this car is just fantastic.

Oh, and the beer is New Glarus Two Women. I’ve made the joke before about having “Two Women, Totally Naked” before but I didn’t have any Totally Naked lager on hand last night. Apparently it was a limited-run. Oh well.

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