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Cars > animal’s Garage > Blog


About My Three Minis

By animal

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

The 1964 Green and white van is my company car and daily driver. Right hand drive,850 cc, 45 mpg. Its a tin can on wheels but a joy to drive.

The bronze Mini saloon is a 1966, set up for racing.
Deseamed body, nosed and decked (no identifying badges), SportPac arches all around, 13” Ultralights with Bridgestone 175 13/50R tires, painted 2001 Prowler Orange Metallic (spectacular paint job & color - many folks have asked me for the paint code, including a Ferrari owner). New rubber trim. Full roll cage (half installed), 5 point seat belt (driver’s side), new headliner, black carpets, Sheep skin seat covers (front), Burr Walnut dash with Magnolia face gauges; Clarion CD with Boston speakers. Approximately 4,000 miles since restoration (speedo not connected).

BLST 4 speed transmission with straight cut gears, 3.1 final drive. Engine is 110 hp (+-),1400cc, built by John Long Racing, stage 3 Longman head, 649 Kent cam, S rods, electronic ignition, lightweight flywheel and backing plate. This Mini is faster on an autocross than a new Cooper S, and a great highway cruiser. Over $10,000 in the engine and bodywork alone.

The Psycho Silver Mini van is also a 1964 that I imported from Wales as just a shell. It took my over 4 years to complete this beast. Details include:

427 hp, 350 ci Chevy tied to tubular steel chassis and roll cage.
Porsche G5050 5 speed transaxle, inverted and converted to side shift
Fiero coil over performance struts and disc brakes in the rear; Metro 8.4"
4-pot calipers in the front
Custom 13" Minilites up front, 15" 5-bolt Minilites on the rear with street-legal drag slicks.
Custom 10 gallon fuel cell up front behind Audi 5000 radiator and Vintage Air condenser.
Master brake and clutch cylinders relocated and pedals cut/reshaped for improved drivability

Front Bumper moved back to the body and welded to the body.
All steel ground effects with air dam to improve cooling
Tri-Star headlights frenched. LED parking lights frenched.
All body lap seams cut, butt welded and smoothed.
Roof gutter removed and reshaped over the doors
Hood corners rounded and hood hinged from the front with remote power opener
Wiper holes filled. One wiper relocated over the window
Exterior door hinges removed and doors converted to suicide (front opening)
Sliding glass windows removed. Power windows and power door latches installed (including remote operator)
2" x 4" frame rails from front wheel wells to rear suspension.
Scratch built all steel dash to cover Vintage Air heating and air conditioning unit, including Dakota Digital instrumentation, center console, A/C vents, misc switches and lights.
Scratch built firewall with window, insulated for sound. Lower half removable for access to front of motor.
Fiero seats, cut down 6" and re upholstered.
Flaming River tilt steering column with 13" X-Force steering wheel, matching shift knob and emergency brake handle.
Custom steel rocker panels/ground effects and wheel arches.
Side scoop to bring cold air into engine compartment.
Rolled rear pan with ventilated center section
Complete 304 stainless steel exhaust system
Wheelie bars
Rear doors modified to internal hinges, Chevy "Suburban" style windows, license plate cutout, power opener.
Frenched LED tail lights and third brake light.
DuPont Hot Hues 3 stage pearl paint.

Photos and build details can be seen at:

1928 Oldsmobile 4 Door Sedan

By animal

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

It was 1964. When I turned 16 and got my license, I wanted a car. I had the money but not the permission. My brother was tooling around in a 51 Merc. (chopped, lowered, smoothed, etc.).
My buddies were into antiques. We would go to the Big Burger or Richard's in a '33 DeSoto (with no reverse gear) or an air-cooled '28 Franklin. We were working on, but never finished, a '34 Woody' I found a '28 olds in Cambridge with 16,000 miles on it for $250. Sold. Found a garage in Waltham just 2 miles from my home and stuffed it in there until I could get "permission" to buy a car. In the meantime (not being one who likes to waste time), once or twice a week I sold the Olds
to a buddy, switched the plates over, and headed out. Those old cars didn't go very fast, but they made up for it when they stopped at a drive-in. With fuzzy velour seats and the shades pulled down on the rear and side windows, the words "drive-in” took on a whole new meaning.

One night a neighbor decided we must be doing something illegal (Yeah! So What?) and told us she called the cops (Oh!). By the time we switched the plates back and ate the Bill of Sale, we passed the Fuzz less than a quarter of a mile from the garage. Luckily the old lady from whom I rented the garage didn't know my name. She didn't even have a key to the garage! From then on, we brought the plates over in another car and I snuck into the garage from the other side of the house.

Soon the fuel pump quit and I couldn't find another one. No problem. I strapped a Gerry Can to the cowl and gravity-fed to the carburetor. On the way to Richard's one night, I stopped at a Gulf station for some Panther Piss. One of Cambridge's Finest was directing traffic and eyeballing the Olds at the same time. I was careful not to make eye contact so as not to
encourage him. But his curiosity got the better of him and he abandoned his post. From inside the Olds I get a frantic "Here he comes!"


That's enough Ethyl for now. Give the man $1.35 and split. Please start on the first try. Please start on the second try. Yes! Too late.

"Nice car," says he.

"Thanks," says I.



"Fixing it up?"

"Yeah, but parts are hard to find" (and Cops are hard to lose). I'm thinking about the Gerry Can on the other side of the car, the phony bill of sale, the illegal plates, and Ma and Pa think I'm at a CYO meeting. I've got to get out of here before he takes a tour and his curiosity kills me!

"Gotta go before she overheats."

"Good Luck!"

"Thanks. It's been good so far. Bye."

This charade went on for six months until I finally got "permission" to buy a new car. By now the starter didn't work and the tranny needed a new main shaft. My father actually liked the Olds despite its problems. He and my brother often took it over to Sonny's Bar in Watertown Square on
Saturday afternoons. When it was running, it was a trip to drive.
Straight-tooth gears required double-clutching. It must have been the inspiration for ABS because no matter how hard I jumped on the brakes, I could not lock them up! Between rain storms I hosed down the wooden spokes to stop the squeaks. I learned to start the car with the hand crank, always pulling up on it. Pushing down on the crank could relocate your elbow to where your shoulder was if the engine backfired. Vacuum wipers meant that I couldn't see going uphill in the rain.

One night while cruising through Harvard Square (looking for an
education), I broadsided a guy in a brand new Buick who was so busy looking at me that he went right through a stop sign. You should have seen the look on his face. He must have thought "Old 99" was coming down on him. I watched in horror as my front bumper buried itself into the Buick's soft side panels (the guy who was to invent side reinforcement barriers was still in diapers) and then my front fenders began to bow up and out like a Condor taking flight. I bounced back off (remember the brakes don't hold) as the fenders settled right back into place and the bumper straightened out to welcome a new coat of paint. Man, was that guy pissed! He even accused me of being too busy waving at girls to see where I was going.
Imagine the nerve! He got a ticket for running a stop sign and I split for the Big Burger.

I sold the old bomber in 1964 for $400 to buy an Austin Healey in which I could commute to Northeastern. In 1965 the Olds was auctioned off on Channel 2 for $800. I still have the Healey (although it actually is titled to the girl in the picture, my wife of more than 30 years), along with a '34 Ford street rod. But I miss the '28 Olds and the good (and not so good) times I had with it.

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