Project Hugo – The Why

I’ve been planning the restoration of my classic Mini, which goes by the name Hugo, for years now and he is finally road legal!  The only issue is that a few days after this happened the wiring loom burned out…  While waiting for the new loom to be delivered my friend Chris has been doing some work on the shell to replace a few rusty panels and I’ve been researching some of the things needed to get my dream car up and running.  Before getting into the how of the project I’d start with the what and why, to that end I figured a post on the history of the project may be in order.

I’ve wanted a Mini my as long as I can remember and decided to buy myself one for my 30th birthday, a friend of a friend had a Mini 30 for sale for a decent price and that’s that!  The initial plan was to cram a VTEC engine in there, an idea my 15 year old self had after reading of one of the first conversions in the mid 90s in MiniWorld Magazine and as look would have it I knew someone who had a VTEC for sale, which I bought.  For three years the engine and car sat in my garage gathering dust, I’d bitten off far more than I could chew.

Earlier this year I decided it was time to crap or get off the pot;  The complexity of the build was daunting, so much so I didn’t know where to start, so I hadn’t.  To that end I decided to ditch the engine swap, sticking with the original, and concentrate on getting the car on the road then seeing what happens.  The long term plan has always been to modernise the car which was part of the reason to go VTEC, so I figured I’d stick to that idea and attempt to rebuild the car as if it was designed now rather than then.  Same engine but tuned and made as reliable as possible.

There are many purists out there that will balk at what I’m intending to do, taking the Mini and tweaking it here and there, and that by modernising it I’m making something that isn’t a Mini any more.  Here’s the thing;  The Mini has been hacked since day one, it has a long history of modifications, tweaks and rebuilds and without this spirit of tweaking we wouldn’t have the Cooper, the history of rallying and hell, even the Italian Job!  The heart of the Mini would remain but modern conveniences would be introduced.

“Modern conveniences” started with central locking and electric windows; it’s since grown to include a full digital dashboard, an auto-choke of my own design and thermal imaging.  More on this and the mechanical mods planned in an upcoming post.

So, that’s the why of the project.  TLDR; Because I can.

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