Thanks to all of our clients and business partners over the past 15 successful years, we have been able to come up with a way of putting something back into the wider community. We thought you may want to hear about how you have contributed to how we are going to help a really worthy cause. It will be quite an adventure, which we hope you will enjoy reading about. It involves bringing a rusting classic Mini back to life, a journey across France to Barcelona, and, if things continue the way they have started, lots of setbacks as well as triumphs.
The “perfect storm” occurred last year, when we found out about the Two Ball Banger Rally, a charity rally for any make or model of vehicle and also found out about a dilapidated Mini that was up for sale. This has become our first charity project – getting a car that was more rust than vehicle and unable to move without being physically pushed back to not only being roadworthy but also a car to turn heads.
From when the car was purchased through to us setting off on the rally in JUST A FEW DAYS TIME (25th July 2019) we would like to share her journey from being only suitable for the scrap yard to cruising triumphantly through the streets of Barcelona.
In September 2018, the mini was purchased. Mick Sharpe from Marine Garage Services came to see her and was positive in the approach, and we approved a budget for her revival.
For any of you who have been involved in a restoration similar to this, you will not be surprised to learn that the original budget quickly became but a distant memory as we dug deeper into the project.
The first journey was getting her from West Sussex to East Sussex. We hired a trailer from Barnham Trailers and winched her onboard. For such a small car this was difficult as mechanically she had completely seized. It didn’t help that she was so low, and she grounded herself onto the trailer, proving how difficult she was going to be from the outset. Eventually she was loaded and moved to Marine Garage Services in Ditchling Road Brighton.
The first project was to cut out the rot – her panels were cut off, doors were removed, sub frames removed; the suspension was rusty, her shock absorbers and brakes had seized, the brake lines were corroded, the exhaust was falling off........ Her engine was removed for easier access to the car which meant that there was little of the car left. And that budget was creeping up and up...
At this stage all but the body work was replaced and installed, which took us to the end of 2018, with a few upgrades along the way to make her perform better.
We decided that we should have our own trailer, not that we were being pessimistic about her breaking down or anything, but (also) as a way of transporting her to future events, of which more news as and when we have it....
In the cold months of January and February, it was time to move her. She looked somewhat naked having no panels, no engine, no windows. She now had to be moved back to West Sussex, for her body to be re-welded together and to be resprayed. Loading her onto our newly purchased trailer, off she went to the Arun Body Shop in Arundel for some Winter Sun. Here the guys at Arun Bodyshop transformed her, making her look more like a car again, and fully weatherproofed her. She still looked naked but was progressing.
Once she had a least her undergarments on we employed the use of our trailer once again to transport her back to Marine Garage in Heathfield. She had to be "helped" onto the trailer, secured, and resplendent in her new colours off she went for further mechanical repairs.
Marine Garage Services continued to work on her "guts" and then came the news we were not expecting. The engine was not going to make it, and it needed replacing. That budget just looked a little bit worse. However, once in this far, in we dug, and the engine was re -bored, rebuilt and prepared while the car was away.
We move on to April, and back on the trailer she went over to East Sussex where her engine was fitted.
Now it was time to add all of her new lights, grills, bumpers, door trims, roof seals, and a definite theme of stainless steel and chrome seemed to be appearing.
She was beginning to look a little bit special on the outside,so we decided to gut her internally as well to enable us to have her looking just as swish on the inside. Out came the carpets, the seats, the dashboard, the steering wheel... She had her driver and passenger seats reinstalled, new Cobra racing seats, and now looking pretty special, she was ready for the London to Brighton, her test run.
She flew through the MOT, not bad for a 28 year old car. Well she should shouldn’t she, with this much love and attention....
Her first proper outing was on the London 2 Brighton Mini Run, on May 19th. We drove her up from Sussex, leaving at 4.30am, and not having the luxury of sat nav found our way to the starting point by following other classic Mini's. Having officially registered and received our driver's pack, we took a look around all of the other little Mini's, all neatly parked and awaiting their moment of glory. Setting off in convoy, all Mini’s seemingly dancing through the streets (read: avoiding body shattering potholes and bumps in the road…) we followed a Mini with the apt slogan of "Actual Size" although we struggled to keep up. The engine still required running in and so we were limited to 50mph.
Bones rattled to the marrow, we arrived in Brighton and took our place in the queue down Wilson Avenue – “yes”, we thought, “she's made it!”
She stopped. Dead. Just cut out and there was no way of starting her up. Cruising down into a car park we opened her up and took a look, but there was nothing obvious, so we called out a very nice man in a yellow van who was with us within 30 mins - thank you AA. It turned out to be an electrical fault, which was resolved, and we were back in the queue.
Over an hour later, there she was, parked on Madeira Parade looking very pleased with herself, and she made it back home again afterwards.
Test one completed!
Fast forward to June, and our time to get out and about in her as much as possible to test all was working well. We broke down on 4 more occasions, she kept blowing her ignition coils. The decision was made to upgrade her ignition coil to a 12V feed, and touch wood, we’ve been running ever since.
We were finally ready to announce the local charity we have chosen to work with for this adventure, on the 4th July – Independence Day for our little Mini! Having failed on two previous occasions to reach the Warburton offices of The Sussex Snowdrop Trust due to those Mini issues, we drove into their car park and met the lovely Ladies who work there. Needless to say, they too fell in love with the Mini and were kind enough to take a couple of photos of her outside their office doors.
So, equipped with their blessing, a TShirt to wear on the rally, and a collection bucket for any change we could gather, we now had the event, the vehicle and the charity – now to do what we initially set out to do, raise some funds for such a brilliant charity.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be updating you on the different chapters of this story. On Thursday 25th July, Dolphin’s Mini will board the Channel Tunnel train and head off on her epic adventure. You can follow us in several ways – here on our events pages, on social media; Instagram, Twitter, You Tube, and our dedicated Facebook Group, or you can just eagerly anticipate our email updates.
We hope that you enjoy sharing this journey with us and if you can help us by donating to our chosen charity, just pop over to our Just Giving Page and your donations go directly to The Sussex Snowdrop Trust. We will make sure we thank you and share our thanks online.