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Mini Sport Classic Car Restoration Part-1

Updated on March 6, 2011

After my Awesome Barn Find a few months ago, I´ve been greatly enjoying this “intimate” learning curve with my “new” Mini Sport!

My Idea is to have it fully restored just as the day it left the factory! My knowledge on Minis is not much but improving significantly every day and I´ll be publishing Hubs on a regular basis describing in detail my process of this racing classic car restoration!

Right now I´m on the phase of dismantling it! Lots of photos have already been taken for future reference! Every single item before removal is photographed in loco and again on my workbench! Then tagged and if possible restored or treated then wrapped in plastic and stored in a secure and organized location just for the vehicle!

To avoid future hassle in the assembly phase, you do not want to misplace and lose any item, not even a single screw!

1980 Mini Sport
1980 Mini Sport

A Bit of History on this Mini Sport

As far as I know, this Mini Sport is one of the limited edition of 50 cars that were assembled (or manufactured, still investigating on this) in Portugal as a street legal racer!

This same car in the early 80´s competed in the Estoril Racetrack! So it´s got a racing history that in the near future I will put my detective hat on to find out who drove it! Maybe it was Sir Stirling Moss! Ha ha, wishful thinking!

Present General Condition of this Classic Car

  • Engine - The heart of a car is the engine of course and this engine amazingly fired up after I treated it with WD40! It took me close to 6 weeks of treatment before firing it up with my fingers crossed and yes, it sounds almost perfect! From my experience, this Mini Sport engine will not have to be overhauled (that´s going to save me quite a lot of money)! It will have to be removed from the car eventually, have it steam cleaned and then a good heat resistant paint job!
  • Gear box and transmission – Having the engine up and running, the tires inflated and making sure all fluid levels are on the full mark I took it for a slow trial spin around my place! Oops, brakes are bad!
  • Windows – All there with no chips or cracks! The windshield has got some light scratches which are easily polishable to make them totally invisible!

  • Chrome - Front and rear chrome bumpers need rechroming as does the right side headlight frame. Door knobs and gas cap just need a good polishing!
  • Rubbers – All in good condition but need replacing if I want to give it that special look!
  • Interior – All there and complete but some of the dashboard panels for some reason are dismantled! Still in good order ready for a good vinyl cleaner and polisher and them wrap them in plastic for storage.
  • Exterior – As one can see by the pictures, the exterior needs quite a bit of work!

A Friendly word of advice

This is not the first time I ever restore a car, and to me, the process is getting easier! You do have to keep focused on what you are doing because one can always overindulge in removing bits and bobs from here and there and soon enough you have your garage floor full of parts that you can easily trip on and break, not to mention hurt yourself!

The Work Done on the Mini Sport so Far

So far the bumpers have been removed, engine hood and boot lid too! Rear seats, front right seat as well removed, treated and stored away! The roll bar was just removed a couple a days ago and ready to be washed, dried then treated and eventually stored away!

Thanks for reading and keep posted on this Mini Sports Classic Car Restoration!

This whole spare wheel and battery box panel will have to be replaced
This whole spare wheel and battery box panel will have to be replaced


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    • nelson soares profile image

      nelson soares 6 years ago from Sunny Algarve

      Hi Howard! The engine is original with only 64.000kms! I´ve so far been able to contact two other Mini Sport owners and the engine and chassis numbers add up!

      I've heard about folks who fake Cooper and Coopers S´s and then sell´em for a fortune!

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      Are you sure the engine is the original? I'm sure you know that there are many fakes of the various Cooper and S varieties.

    • nelson soares profile image

      nelson soares 6 years ago from Sunny Algarve

      Thanks ClassicCarsResto! Part 2 will soon be posted!

    • ClassicCarsResto profile image

      ClassicCarsResto 6 years ago

      Cute little classic, excited to see part two!

    • nelson soares profile image

      nelson soares 6 years ago from Sunny Algarve


      I´m aghast! I really don´t know how to express my gratitude but I´ll keep it simple,

      Hat´s off, with a BIG Thank You!

    • Mike Craggs profile image

      Mike Craggs 6 years ago from UK

      Hmm, buggy comments section. On the BMH link after 'exhibitions' there should be another backslash and 'archive-services' but for some reason HubPages keeps deleting that part of the link, so it should be 'exhibitions/archive-services/ that takes you to the archive page where you can see which cars they keep details for.

      The same with the Mini Special register, the last part of the link should read 'abouttheregister'.

      Now, I'm off again. Have fun.

    • Mike Craggs profile image

      Mike Craggs 6 years ago from UK

      According to BMH they only keep records up to 1969 for Minis (according to their web site), so they may not have any useful info.

      It's interesting it is a 1098cc, as the only Mini to use that in the UK was a limited edition version in 1979 called the 1100 Special. The only other Minis using the 1100 were all in the Mini Clubman body style.

      They built just over 5,000 1100 Specials in either silver or rose, it has plastic flared arches as standard and 165/70 tyres. They actually looked quite smart.

      There is a register for Mini 1100 Specials at:

      It also has some pictures of the model, a silver one.

      I did spot a Portuguese Mini site you might want to take a look at as it covers some historic mini racing at places like Estoril. It has no link to me of any kind, but you can see it at:

      Good luck with your new bottomless money pit!

    • nelson soares profile image

      nelson soares 6 years ago from Sunny Algarve

      Hi Mike

      Thank you VERY much for your support! And thanks again for the Mini Sport catalogue link! I´ve downloaded it a few weeks ago! Boy, lot´s of goodies they´ve got!

      I have also contacted Mini Sport then and the reply I got back was;

      "Regarding your 1980 Mini, there are no distinguishing marks to help answer your question about whether it was manufactured in the UK or Portugal. You would need to contact British Motor Heritage and give them the chassis number."

      And I did contact BMH a couple of weeks ago, no reply yet though!

      About this Mini, the engine is a 1098cc with a stage 1 or 2 head! Fitted with an 1.5" SU! Front and rear drum brakes with an "oversized" master brake cylinder (so I was told)!

      Suspension wise, don´t know yet but i did measure only an 11,5 cm clearance from the ground to the bottom of the gearbox!

      Thanks for the Italian job info!

    • Mike Craggs profile image

      Mike Craggs 6 years ago from UK

      I'm back.

      I forget to say about The Italian Job. As it was released in mid-1969 the only sporting Minis being made then were the Mini Cooper 1275S, so I'd guess that's what was used. The smaller Cooper S models were only made for a couple of years in the early 1960s.

    • Mike Craggs profile image

      Mike Craggs 6 years ago from UK

      Hi, Nelson

      I got your email about your 'Mini Sport' but I know nothing about that specific model, and I can't find any reference to such a model in any book so far.

      As for Mini Sport the company they seem to be a fairly reliable company largely specialising in Minis.

      I'm not aware of anyone other than John Cooper having an affiliation with the factory to build 'official' cars. It may be that Mini Sport simply had a deal with some motor sport outlet in Portugal and built a number of cars for them for a specific race series in the early eighties.

      I can only suggest emailing Mini Sport with the engine and chassis number and seeing if they have any details on file about the car, but it was in the days before computers - and they may not want to divulge anything even if they have, for fear of all the privacy laws these days. Otherwise it may be down to Google.

      As an aside, I don't know if you noticed but Mini Sport do a free PDF catalogue you can download from their site. (But be aware it is a 15.2 MB download if your on dial-up.)

      I'll keep poking around to see what I can come up with, just 'cos I'm curious now about what 'it' actually is. Do you know what engine it has in, and any other specification details about brakes and suspension?

      Sorry I can't be of more help to you.

    • nelson soares profile image

      nelson soares 6 years ago from Sunny Algarve

      Hi Larry

      So far, visually, the sway bar joints looks ok, but I´ll know for sure in a few weeks when I get to that stage!

      You´re reading my mind Larry! Ha ha! Actually I made a mental note of checking what minis they used on the Italian Job!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Nelson...You are so right about organization...everything in order and in place...Looks like your task is well started and most of the rebuild challenges appear doable...Have you checked the sway bar joints for deterioration of the rubber bushings..? If they are shot you can replace with the new polyurethane bushings that will last a lifetime...when I restored my MG Midget I found I had to replace all the control arm and sway bar bushings...

      I'll be following this labor of love and look forward to a great outcome...

      As an aside, in the movie The Italian Job, were those cars they used mini-sports..? Sure looked similar to your project car...Larry