Nigel Wakeford`s Modified 1980 Mini 1000

Nigel Wakeford`s Modified 1980 Mini 1000

Long-term Mini fan Shaun Stephenson bought a oneowner 1980 Mini in April 2014 as the basis of a modification project. The Pageant Blue Mini, which was originally destined for Ireland but instead went to the island of Jersey, returned to the British mainland in 1998. Incredibly, it was in very good condition. “I missed out on buying it on eBay and then saw it advertised in the local paper, which was a real bonus,” recalls Shaun. “It was very clean and had only been owned by one family who never used it in the wet, snow or dark, or even if there was a slight chance of rain, so the shell had all its original panels and sills and had never been welded.”

Shaun’s plan was to create a retrostyled Mini and he was not going to scrimp on quality. He stripped it to bare metal, ready for paint, in 2015. “It was put on a roller jig and painted in Almond Green by my son Ben at his bodyshop Paint-Tech in Morley, Leeds, inside and out.”

The bonnet lip was removed so that a Mk1 grille could be fitted and rear light infill panels were welded in so that Mk1 rear lights could be fitted. Shaun bought some Mini Spares Gp5 arches and modified them to his taste. They had to cover some sexy splitrim alloys from Carl Austin of Force Racing. In fact, the wheels you see here were not the first set of wheels purchased from Carl as Shaun later settled on these amazing-looking 7x10” three-piece TF Turbo wheels.

The 998 engine and gearbox were put to one side when Shaun decided that he wanted a 1330cc motor. He couldn’t find anyone suitable to build one for him so he decided that he was up for a challenge and chose to do it himself. “With advice from Carl Austin I stripped a 1275 block and took it to W Drake of Bradford for the machine work and built the rest myself with help from Bill Sollis’ Ultimate Mini Builder DVD. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to take on such a job.” The 1330cc A+ engine utilises an early 12G940 cylinder head, tuned to Stage 3 specification, and a Kent 276 cam.

Shaun had help with the gearbox, which has straight-cut gears and drops and a cross-pin diff. “Paul from Jeffries Performance Engineering helped a lot and, without his help, it would have never run.”

He didn’t scrimp on braking as the non-servo system was enhanced with Paddy Hopkirk Cooper S 7.5” four-pot calipers and grooved discs with Minifin drums at the rear. The suspension features billet lightened Force Racing front top arms and adjustable bottom arms.

Inside, the Cobra Classic RS seats are covered in Biscuit tan-coloured material, which Shaun bought from Newton Commercial, as well as a matching Monte Carlo trim set plus cream crackle headlining and visors.

It was really important to Shaun that the Mini looked great as well as performing well so he fitted many good-quality parts from Smiffy’s Bits and pretty much every part available from DSN Classics’ RetroSport range. “It was built to be partly ornamental and partly for fun on a warm, sunny day.”

By 2018 he was resigned to the fact that Bertie, as he had named the Mini, had to make way to fund his next Mini project which you will see in MiniWorld sometime next year. This is where Nigel Wakeford comes into our story.

“Anything with an engine and wheels has got me going ever since I was young,” explains Nigel. “I’d be a rich man if it wasn’t for cars and bikes as I’m into motorcycles as well. I love old cars from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I’ve been an MG Owners Club member for 35 years. I’ve always had Midgets, Bs, Roadsters, all sorts but, having said that, over my 45 years of driving I’ve had five or six previous Minis when they were just daily transport. I’ve had a 1275 GT, a couple of Clubmans. I had a Mk2 Mini with sliding windows and a 2000 Cooper Sport. God, if only I still had all the Minis I’ve owned… I sold my last MGB and I had a motorbike which I wanted to get in the garage so I needed something a bit smaller and thought ‘what’s my next love’? Of course, Minis came to mind. I started looking around and this Mini was an eBay find.” He bought it from Shaun in November 2018.

Nigel was impressed with the styling of the Mini and he was amazed at the high-quality of the build and the specification. “I think he made a good job and I’m pretty fussy.” There are, however, a few things that he might have done differently. “Personally, I wouldn’t have had the straight-cut box. I’ve got all the engine parts for the 998 and it’s got a reconditioned gearbox that goes with it and, at some point, I might get around to having that built up to maybe a little hotter than an ordinary 998 and reunite them. I can change things that bolt on and bolt off but I can’t delve into an engine.”

He has made a few tweaks to the Mini since owning it. “I’ve wired in a rear fog lamp and I did change the front and rear bumpers to better quality OE ones from Mini Spares and the fit was spot on. Shaun had fitted a flip-top RetroSport rocker cover but I changed it to a more traditional-looking one.” He also raised the Mini’s ride height a little using the adjustable suspension.

Nigel’s plans are to enjoy the Mini and keep it in great condition. “I drive it round the local lanes when I fancy a blast but it doesn’t matter that all shows were cancelled this year as it’s ready and waiting in the garage. To preserve it I want to get some Waxoyl into it.” Just as Shaun sees a Mini as something beautiful to own, Nigel feels the same way. “I love taking it out of the garage and standing back and looking at it.”

Engine: 1275cc A+ overbored +0.060” to 1330cc. 12G940 Stage 3 unleaded A-series cylinder head. Kent 276 cam, solid followers. Duplex timing assembly. Mini Sport 1.5:1 ratio roller-tip rocker assembly. Mini Spares double valve springs. 1275 crank, balanced, reground by W Drake. ARP bolt set new twin SU HS4 carbs from DGS Carburation. Powerspark electronic ignition. Powerspark Viper coil. Powerspark silicone leads 45amp Mini Spares alternator. MED twin 1Ѕ” stub stack air filter system. Fletcher alloy radiator. Fletcher hoses. Facet fuel pump. Maniflow Stage 2 special centre-branch, side-exit twin-box RC40 exhaust system. RetroSport billet alloy engine parts. Smiffy’s bits stainless steel bolt kit.

Gearbox: Mini manual four-speed, straight-cut, rod-shift box straight-cut drop gears cross-pin diff 3.6:1 CWP final drive. KAD Moke Quickshift.

Brakes: Non-servo system. Paddy Hopkirk Cooper S-fit four-pot calipers at front grooved 7.5” front discs braided Goodridge hoses. Minifin spacer drums at rear.

Suspension: OE dry subframes, powder-coated GAZ lowered dampers poly bushes lightened Force Racing billet front top arms adjustable front lower arms. Cooper S hubs. Hi-Lo kit. Mini Spares negative camber radius arm brackets red dot rubber cones.

Wheels/Tyres: Force Racing 7x10” three-piece TF Turbo 3-piece modular alloy wheels. Yokohama Advan AO32R 165/70R10 tyres aerosol lid Compomotivebadged centre caps.

Interior: Dash padding removed Cobra Classic RS front seats trimmed in Newton Commercial Biscuit material matching Monte Carlo trim set Newton cream crackle headlining, visors central speedo binnacle wood-rimmed steering wheel. RetroSport billet switch, heater facia plates.

Exterior: 1980 round-nose Mini bodyshell, all original panels, no repairs required. Mk1 rear light, bonnet conversions. Almond Green (GN37), Old English White (WT3) roof modified Gp5 arches custom badges Mk1 Austin Cooper grille, surround. Mk1 rear number plate holder replacement chrome bumpers. 

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