Skin Deep
MiniWorld|December 2019
Scott Whitmore raced Mini Stox from the age of 10 and bought his first road Mini at 14. He already knew he was going to work in car body restoration. Just as well really...
Monty Watkins

Probably the final frontier for any Mini owner in the modern era is to learn body repair or restoration. Few of us have grasped the ancient mysteries of Mini spot-welding. Dabbling with seam- or butt-welding is a great way to make a million jagged holes in perfectly good panels. Traditionally, we will pay to have it done, buy a new shell (if available) or send another Mini off for scrap.

Thankfully, Mini values for all models are still on the rise so it is not extravagant to spend more on restoration or repair. Despite that, there are still some Minis which cannot be re-shelled and which depend on the patience and experience of a skilled sheet metal practitioner. The late model Mini Van seen here would certainly have gone for scrap had it not come into the hands of someone like Scott, back in 2011.

“My first car was a Mini and I bought it when I was 14 years old, as a small project to start learning and practice the trade of body and restoration work, which is what I wanted to get into." So Scott became a car body expert. “I was self-employed, working for different companies on everything from Mini, Beetle, Rolls Royce, Jaguar E-type, Porsche and American cars. Smokey and the Bandit and the original Mad Max were my favourite films so, if I could ever afford to, I’d love to own either the Mad Max Interceptor or the Bandit’s Trans-Am. I do love classic cars and love Minis over them all. Since finishing my Van I am now always making sure it’s covered up and noone’s been messing with it and making sure it’s always cleaned and polished.

“I bought it from Mini Speed. It was all sign-written as they had been using it as their show/advertising Van. It was described as having ‘minor rust in places’ and ‘failed MOT on balljoint and brakes’ so I thought it would be a nice, easy project. I never went to view it, which I know now is a bad thing when buying any Mini or car these days from eBay.

“They delivered the Mini to me and I quickly realised it wasn’t as described and was going to be far from an easy project. As I gave the floor a tap my hand went through it and, on further investigation, I could see three floors welded on top of each other with water trapped in between the layers. There were chunks of filler all along the lower quarters and door steps, hiding holes. There were holes all around the roof, covered up with sealer. After seeing these awful repairs, more like bodges, and after long thoughts on what to do with it, I decided to go ahead and do the work that was needed.”

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