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CJ The Mini (1983 K Series VVC Mini Roundnose) Build Diary

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  • CJ The Mini (1983 K Series VVC Mini Roundnose) Build Diary

    Hi Everybody,

    I thought it was about time that I created a build thread as I have been lurking in the background for some time reading everyone elses posts. Now that I have actually made some progress with my conversion I have something to post.

    I always loved mini's and wanted one, but when I was 17 and passed my test my Dad would not entertain the idea of "one of them rust buckets" and since he was financing the insurance for the 1st year it had to be a newer car.

    2 years down the line I bought my brothers Rover 200Vi which had just had a new engine in with only around 50K on the clock. I had this for a year and loved the revvy engine, so much so that I bought a Lotus Elise with the same VVC engine. Instead of selling the 200Vi I was thinking about a VVC mini so I used my parents garage (whilst they were on holiday) to cut out the engine along with loom, driveshafts, fuel tank and anything else I thought I would need. I kept testing everything as I dismantled the car with an angle grinder until eventually I had an engine sitting on the floor that would start off the key. The car went to the scrap yard and the engine and all the parts were stashed at the back of my parents garage for when the mini would be born. My dad was not impressed when they got home with the rather large pile of parts now occupying his garage!

    I did end up getting a year 2000 sportspack mini a year later and ran around in it for a while but the conversion never happened as I met my future wife who was living in Austria which took all my time to see. So the mini was sold but the engine still remained hidded at the back of my parents garage.

    Fast forward 10 years to the end of 2017 after getting married and having a child and I now have a decent sized garage for a conversion. I found a 1983 (Y reg) mini for sale just over the border in Hawick, Scotland. It was an unfinished project which came with a mega amount of parts, much more than was required to finish it as a standard mini. It was a rolling shell with a 998cc engine that had been stripped, repainted and then mostly reassembled with new parts. I got it all for £2050 which was oddly what I paid for my 1st car. Was this what the 1st car should of been?

    I got the car transported back to Carlisle, Cumbria where my garage was open waiting for my new project.

    I have nicknamed the mini CJ (as that's on its registration number). That way when things are not working out I have a name to shout at it!

    I'll try and get some pictures loaded up of the mini when I picked it up and then write a bit more of whats been happening with CJ.
    Last edited by Mini Vvc; 24-06-2019, 09:59 PM.

  • #2
    IMAG0603 by Tim Wells, on Flickr

    This was after I brought CJ home. I'm Tim the guy on the right, the other guy is my uncle Les who took me up to collect CJ (who came back on a recovery truck)
    Last edited by Mini Vvc; 24-06-2019, 09:16 PM.


    • #3
      Unfortunatly I dont seem to have any other pictures of when I first picked up CJ. They seem to have been lost in between mobile phone changes. Mostly it was showing the amount of stuff that came with the mini. There was 4 doors, a second set of glass for the car, a fibreglass front end and fibreglass boot, twin carbs for the 998 engine, 6 brake calipers and discs, 3 different sets of arches, boxes of different tail lights, 6 headlights, megajolt ignition, silicon hoses, etc, etc.

      I think there was a previous owner who did all the work on the car restoring it, then there was 2 more owners who just liked buying bits online. There really was tons of bits. Basically I stripped everything off that I didnt want and sold it and kept every bit that may come in handy during CJ's rebirth.

      As soon as CJ was in my garage I finally pleased my Dad by collecting the engine and all its ancillaries from his garage after about 12 years of being there.

      I then set about changing the cam belt on the engine and getting it running (just to make sure nothing had happened to it in the meantime)

      Here's a little video of it bursting into life after 12 years. I tried about 3-4 times to film this as it wouldnt start. Eventually it was just clogged up injectors. I made a little rig to clean them out and then she fired up (and burnt my hand!)

      VVC Engine First Start by Tim Wells, on Flickr
      Last edited by Mini Vvc; 24-06-2019, 09:45 PM.


      • #4
        Well you have some progress there. Well done for sharing it with us.

        Not sure starting the engine like that is a good idea. Quite clearly some health and safety issues there!

        Running without cooling system fitted isn't a good idea, even for short periods. Hope everything is good once fitted into the car.
        If tha does owt fo nowt, olas do it fo this 'en.


        • #5
          Thanks Andrew, Your right about running the engine without coolant, I wouldn't have wanted to run the engine any longer than I did. The short film was the only time I ran the engine. I was a bit worried that there would be some sort of electrical fault with the engine after standing for so long. It had also been moved a few times in my dad's garage and I was worried about broken wires as the loom has been connected all the time. Thankfully all was good.

          On a trip to the scrap yard I also found another few bits and bobs that I will utilise such as
          - 52mm Aluminium Throttle body (instead of the standard plastic 48mm)
          - Airbox from a Mgtf 1.8i with twin cold air infeeds
          - Metro 1.1 K Series Gear change mechanism and gear stick (as CJ had none)
          - Rover Steering coupling (to use instead of the original gear change universal joint which was totally knackered - it was like a brush in a barrel on the Rover Vi)
          -A rover 25 LH engine mount (as I forgot to keep the original one)

          Online I managed to track down a LSD for my gearbox. There was a guy selling a Rover 820 Vitesse Turbo engine and gearbox. It does have the type B torsen in it with the hole straight through the driveshaft hole. He was struggling to sell it so agreed to sell the gearox for £60. The gearbox code is W4DTUT with gear ratios of

          1st - 3.167
          2nd - 1.842
          3rd - 1.308
          4th - 1.033
          5th -0.714

          This gearbox has the same ratios as the C4BS gearbox that came in the 200Vi except a longer 5th gear. So should sit at 3500rpm at 70mph instead of 4000rpm at 70mph on the C4BS.

          If this still seems a bit too high I got a rover 25 Diesel box (S6BSU) that is also "U Spec" like the Vitesse box and could swap the different final drive into it to make it 3250rpm at 70mph (of course this would lower all the other gears too). This would all need transferred into the casing of my current C4BS so probably will be a bit of a rebuild nightmare.

          Has anybody tried out these ratios before and had any experience with them or tried mismatching vitesse box with the diesel? Any info would be much appreciated.

          My aim is to make a quick road/track car. So would like to have a quick 0-60mph for track/fast road but still not revving too high in 5th on the motorway/dual carriageways.

          So thats all the bits that I bought / scavanged for CJ so far to build her up.


          • #6
            The Metro 1.1 would have used an R65 gearbox and not a PG1 so the gear change is completely different.

            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
            Originally posted by Burnard
            couldnt be bothered to stretch that far to pull it out.
            Originally posted by ardonfast
            Haz obviously don't like custard , my Mrs spits it out to!
            I love it


            • #7
              Thanks for putting the profile information on. Helps people a lot when commenting on posts.

              You may of noticed I know what is possible with the gearboxes. The one you have you will need to transfer all the internals to the K4 bell housing, including the top case as it is U spec. If it saves you breaking the standard Vi box, I can supply a bell housing. The W ratio is quite close 1 to 4 but a big jump to 5th. If you want quick 0 to 60 times you won't use 5th so this isn't an issue. If you are considering going on track at any point, avoid the diesel ratios. Great for road use. Too tall for track.
              Whatever clutch arm you use, make sure it's removed and greased before fitted. Also, check the diff bearings, in particular the side the crown wheel fits. These are prone to wear. Fitting steel caged versions are about £30 a pair.
              If tha does owt fo nowt, olas do it fo this 'en.


              • #8
                Instant Custard - I was planning just to just modify and weld up the Metro 1.1 gear linkage to match the PG1 gearbox, or is the difference between the gear change mechanisms just too different? CJ didn't have any gear shift mechanism at all (just a hole in the middle of the cabin) so I thought just having something that fits to put in there would be a good start.

                AGoaty - I was quite aware of your PG1 gearbox skills and was hoping that you would chime in on my build thread with a few tips. I may just go down the route as you suggest of building the gearbox in a an empty C4 box casing instead and saving the current one. My plan was to use the current C4 gearbox when first testing out the car just to see if those ratios are right for me as the 1st 4 gears are the same as the W4 box.
                I hadnt meant swapping to diesel ratios when I bought the diesel box, the idea was just to swap the 3.938 final drive from the S6 to the W4 box then built up in the C4 casing (if that makes sense). Please correct me if that wouldn't work??

                The next step I had was starting to build up the new subframe for the K Series engine. My original A Series subframe was brand new so would be a good one to modify. It was fitted all with brand new orange bushes on the towers and on the mounts. I'm guessing they are an uprated mount (or maybe just a nice colour?)

                I got a chain hoist (from Lidl £20 rated to a 1000kg) that I planned to use to lift the engine in and out of the car during trial fitting. I found that the car was so close to the ground I would be suffering a major bad back by the time the car was finished so used it to hoist the entire car up and mount it on 4 toolboxes and set about chocking it to get it level.

                I wanted to try and keep the geometry of the frame as close to standard as possible to retain handling and not suffer torque steer too badly - which seems to be a problem in some people's builds. I used 40mm box section to create the initial frame and welded that to the towers and then to join on to the tie rod end mounts to try and keep them in the same place.

                IMG_20180803_214430 by Tim Wells, on Flickr

                Once the Tie rod mounts were then tacked in place I was able to start removing more of the original frame.

                IMG_20180803_221931 by Tim Wells, on Flickr


                • #9
                  I was then at the point where I could start offering up the engine to see how it was going to fit.

                  IMG_20180803_223407 by Tim Wells, on Flickr

                  It then became apparent how big the engine was compared to the tiny space it was going in to.

                  There was an awful lot of trimming, grinding and cutting as the engine was now edging it's way into position. My arms were killing from hoisting the engine constantly and had that funny feeling in my hands from all the grinding. Most of the time I was trying the engine and really feeling like I was getting nowhere.

                  IMG_20180717_213733 by Tim Wells, on Flickr


                  • #10
                    You are correct, you could use the 3.9 form the diesel box in the one you have. Other U spec boxes are the 620Ti or MG ZS 180. Both those are C6U. If you really want to go further, the Freelander diesel S7U uses a 3.6 in U spec too. The VVC engine doesn't really need the U spec though as it's the torque of turbo cars which they were designed for but it won't hurt it either!

                    Not sure what anyone else thinks but you have the Mini very high up. Surely this means a lot of winching. I get the bending over part isn't good but it looks really high!
                    If tha does owt fo nowt, olas do it fo this 'en.


                    • #11
                      Good progress!

                      I really liked my diesel ratio box, but I'm in the minority and don't own the car any more.
                      Originally posted by apbellamy
                      Fuck me Shaun. That actually made sense.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MiniLandy View Post
                        Good progress!

                        I really liked my diesel ratio box, but I'm in the minority and don't own the car any more.
                        The diesel box is great for a road only car. On track it's far too long between gears. My compromise was the same ratios from a Freelander but shorter final drive giving best of both.

                        Most people choose the easy option of the C6 as it's a stock box.

                        Sorry for taking over your build with comments.

                        Please carry on...
                        If tha does owt fo nowt, olas do it fo this 'en.


                        • #13
                          Hi everyone, I love the comments coming in, they all help - especially with gearbox ratios. They are quite a difficult thing to get right as they are unique to each person for what they want the car to do. I had the same problem with an old vespa after upgrading the engine. Swapping cogs until you get it just right. Although getting it right 1st time this time wouldn't be bad!

                          I'll try and get some more progress pics up in the next few days.


                          • #14
                            Prior to starting building the subframe I modified the fuel tank to take the original fuel pump from the Rover Vi. Luckily CJ came with a brand new fuel tank. I cut the tank and then washed it after to clean out any debris from cutting the hole. Here it is with the pump installed. It seemed a better option than the pricey Mpi tanks.

                            IMG_20190624_183714 by Tim Wells, on Flickr


                            • #15
                              If you want to protect your shiny new tank from future rusting issues then I recommend POR15 tank sealer, it future proofs the steel tank from the higher amounts of ethanol they put in modern fuels from rusting the tank, not an issue with modern plastic tanks, but will cause issues for our classics.

                              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
                              Originally posted by Burnard
                              couldnt be bothered to stretch that far to pull it out.
                              Originally posted by ardonfast
                              Haz obviously don't like custard , my Mrs spits it out to!
                              I love it