Everything can be fixed, off course. Belgian Ramses Lava undertook on a project that 99 percent of our readers would have deemed hopeless. A decayed and very sorry looking Mini Traveller that had spent 15 years on it’s side, exposed to all the elements.
Mini’s, lovely as they may be, aren’t exactly the rarest of classic cars. Even the more rare and sought after Mini Traveller isn’t exactly a needle in the proverbial haystack. So why would someone choose to restore in such a terrible state. Ramses admits it’s a matter of heart over mind. “A car to me is more than a piece of metal. It’s a living, organic thing. You just don’t write that off so easily.”
The subject at hand had spent 15 years resting on it’s side, at a local garage in Gent, Belgium. The Morris manufactured Mini Traveller left the factory in march of 1967 and spent most of it’s working life in France. How it eventually ended up in Belgium remains a mystery. Throughout it’s ordeal the car somehow managed to keep it’s papers close by: “We where lucky enough to find the Carte Gris in the glovecompartement. That, combined with the vin-number is enough to get the car registered in Belgium.”
Getting the car road-legal however, was going to take more than just a little paperwork. Ramses has been working on the car off and on for about three years now, and after all this time theres a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
“The car was in a deplorable state. It had spent so much time on it’s side with panels missing that the body had badly distorted. Some parts of it had rotten away in it’s entirety. I’ve had to force parts of the frame by about an inch, just to be able to get the doors in.”
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“The engine was completely shot. The cylinders had filled up with water and the pistons had rusted completely shut. There was no other option than too take it apart completely.”
Mk1 Mini parts are beginning to be hard to come by, so I’ve had to make or adapt several parts myself. I buy a lot of old parts on Ebay to fix them up. Usually it takes two or three of the same to make one working part. There wasn’t much of an interior with the car but I’ve managed to sort most of that over the years. Replacement panels are fairly easy to come by, but the quality isn’t quite there. I try to make the panels myself wherever possible. The interior wheel wells, the rear quarter panels and parts of the nose I’ve done myself.”
“Most of the metalwork is finished on the car. The biggest job is the woodwork on the rear end, but I’m not too worried about that. I make my living as a woodworker so that shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. I don’t exactly know how much longer it will take to finish the car, as I’ve got a couple of projects going on besides the Mini. I’ve set a deadline for myself. I want to be out and driving it in 2017, no matter what happens.”
We for one can’t wait to see how this project turns out. Our hat’s off to Ramses and we’ll make sure to return to him once this project is finished.
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