If the currency was tax returns, it cost me 3. Yowza.

I might go through a more detailed post once I pick it up, but I finally got the total bill for the repairs my mechanic did to my Mini. In all honesty, it was not bad. Three times my tax return isn’t much - I’m one of those people who tries to minimize my tax return as much as possible.

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I generally hate taking my car to the mechanic, but I’m fortunate to have a pretty wonderful British car specialist that’s between my winter storage and my house. I took it to them to diagnose why my crappy SU carb wasn’t adjusting properly.

In fact, this is the second time they’ve looked at that carb. I gave up after dozens of hours last summer and took it in. They got it to the point where it was “ok” but my clutch was slipping too much for them to road tune it properly. I put in a new clutch, but by the time the car went into storage, the carb had fallen out of adjustment. Great. When I pulled it out for spring, I limped it to the mechanic and gave them the objective: Get the car running right.

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Day 1: Two guys spent all day looking at the car, and their diagnosis? “We’re stumped.” For reference, most specialty shops would have charged a labor rate close to my total bill just for this one day.

Day 3 or 4: “We have to pull the motor.”

In short, my timing gear was off one tooth. You can get the timing cover off with the engine in... but why would you? It takes under an hour to drop the front subframe with the engine attached. You’ll spend longer than that getting the timing cover off. I learned this lesson when I did the clutch with the engine in the car. Never again.

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Here’s the big stuff:

  • Timing gear was one tooth off. No more!
  • Went from a crummy single SU to a nice, clean dual SU carb setup.
  • Got a better flowing manifold for the dual-carb setup.
  • Ride height... adjusted. From whatever this was.
  • Starter had a dead spot... no more!

I put in somewhere between $1000-2000 last year in performance parts, and I still found the car way way down on power. Basically a new top end - new head, rebuilt carb, new intake and exhaust, and it was still a dog. It would do 60mph now, but it was frustratingly slow to get there. Even after they tried to tune it, it was absolutely a dog. The mechanic says that is no longer the case. Between the work last year and the mechanic’s work this year... I’m realistically looking at double the power from the last time I really got out and drove it..

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I’m hoping it’s worth it. The total bill is expensive, but that isn’t unexpected. They gave me a very good deal, and other shops I’ve gone to in the past would have charged me thousands more.

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Could I have done it myself? Yep, sure. Maybe not the diagnosis, without some special tools... but I certainly could have done the rest if I knew what my projects were. In any case, the dual carbs would have cost me about 3x as much if I bought them on my own, so I’m not really complaining. Plus, it would have taken me a month to get it done. I’m a busy person!

Anyway, new 10" wheels and tires are on order, and soon will be smaller 7.5" front brakes to fit those wheels. A couple other doodads, and I’m hoping to spend the summer driving the car, rather than just working on it and bashing my head against the wall.

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I can’t wait.