are now quite commonly used on Minis, mainly for racing, but also
by people who are fed up with their steel fronts rusting away or
who can't afford to repair the front end after an accident. ABS
Minis (see Contacts)
supply a complete glass-fibre front which even includes the A panels!
to fit Alternative Engines
seems pretty much certain that fitting any non-A series engine involves
some body modification. Even a Metro Turbo engine requires some
cutting of the front bulkhead and welding of a box to make room
for the turbocharger. The Clubman front is small enough but the
standard Mini, also known as the "round front" or "bull-nose"
is very restrictive. Certainly it is possible to fit the 1600 VTEC
in the Clubman but the standard car will require a modified front
end (as yet no-one's managed to fit a VTEC without increasing the
size of the front end, but somebody might just figure out a way!).
It seems that the Vauxhall engine is too big for either car and
requires a lengthened front end. Other engines may not require such
modifications but it's unlikely you'll get away without doing anything
to fit your non-standard engine. The solution to this problem is
to either weld in extra metal to your existing front end or go for
a flip-front, effectively replacing the entire front end with a
detachable front end. This is usually fibre-glass but may also be
carbon-fibre or steel.
actually supply a glass-fibre front specially for the Vauxhall 16v
conversion and they say that it will also suit the VTEC (pictures
will follow shortly).
there has been a trend to use carbon fibre which is significantly
stiffer and lighter than glass fibre. It lends itself to being painted
well as it is less prone to flexing like glass fibre (although this
is usually due to quality issues). It used to be very expensive
but is now a bit more affordable due to the number of companies
working with it and the demand from the motor-sport industry.
fibre tends to look quite decorative with the weave showing and
a clear gel coat applied. Curley Specialised Mouldings (see Contacts)
produce many panels and body parts made from carbon fibre, for the
Mini including, wheel arches, bumpers, roof skin, valances, boot
floors, parcel shelves, instrument pods, door skins, boot lids,
also possible to make your flip-front from metal, perhaps using
the original front end you removed and fitting of new panels as
required, alternatively you could make up a new front end from all
new panels, or remove an entire front from another donor car. The
metal front offers the possible advantage that it might take an
impact better in case of an accident, but it will be significantly
heavier than a glass-fibre front if that's a problem for you (but
with 160BHP from a VTEC why worry?). Others would argue that the
metal front will always look better and be more original than a
glass front. I guess it's whatever your preference is.
the glass-fibre front because it's cheaper, it definitely won't
rust, and even though my front is from the cheaper end of the market,
it looks great and fits reasonably well (possibly due to the hard
work of the fitter though).
possible to replace your whole (metal) car with a glass fibre or
even carbon fibre shell if you really want to avoid any rust. Usually,
you would need to use your fibre shell with a custom space-frame
chassis but there are alternatives available. Domino Cars (see Contacts)
offer various glass-fibre versions of the Mini including Cabriolets
and even Pickups.
detail will be added to this section when I receive it.
Front End vs. Two-Piece Front End
that you need to choose which type of front-end is best for you.
Here's my list of pros and cons:
- A one-piece unit is usually cheaper e.g.. £85 vs. £115 (glass
- A two-piece is much better than a one-piece unit because the
bonnet section is separate and can be removed easily for routine
maintenance such as checking the oil.
- The one-piece unit makes it more difficult to connect and
disconnect the front-end's wiring loom to the car when fitting
and removing. Typically, a two piece unit may allow you to place
the wiring loom connector in the engine bay but a one-piece
unit will require you to place it on an inner wing, which may
well be more difficult to access!
- The one-piece unit offers cleaner lines as you don't have
to use bonnet pins and straps to hold the bonnet in place.
- The one-piece obviously doesn't require seals around the bonnet
area so it's less prone to letting the rain in.
my own project, I'm currently using a one-piece unit, but when I
eventually go for the VTEC, I'll replace it with a (hopefully a
carbon fibre) two-piece front end, just for the convenience.
A Front End
is relatively easy but try and buy a good quality front end that
the supplier can guarantee an accurate fit. It's probably best not
to use a second hand glass-front as you don't know what damage it's
suffered underneath the paintwork, it may be impossible to fit well
to your car (remember all Minis are slightly different) and it may
end up costing you more for in the long run if the bloke you get
to paint the front has to spend hours on preparation of the previously
going to have to remove a lot of metal, so get a good angle grinder
with plenty of cutting discs (and safety glasses!) and remember
to treat the edges of the metal you cut for corrosion prevention.
It's also a good idea to protect yourself from the sharp edges left
after you remove the front. Rubber window trim is ideal for this.
aware that modifying your car in such a major way may affect how
your car is licensed for road use. In the UK you may have to find
a flip-front friendly MOT garage to get your car on the road. It
certainly helps if the installation looks professional so make sure
the flip front is fitted well and fit substantial brace bars. The
latter should alleviate any safety fears the MOT examiner might
front panel, front wings and 2 inner wings from bulkhead forwards.
the pear drop mounts from the subframe.
brace bars in place and bolt through the pear drop subframe
to front panel mounting holes.
the A panels are in excellent condition, weld mounting flanges
to hold suitable fasteners to fix the front end in place.
the front end up to the car and and trim top edge to fit back
flush with A panels and scuttle panel. Ensure the front end
is supported underneath to get it into the correct angle and
position. Ensure the arches are level and tape in place with
happy with the fit, drill holes for the front mounting pins
at the front. Remove bolts from pear drop mounting holes and
fix pins in place. Measure where the Zeus fasteners are to go
through the A panels and drill through both front end and A
panel mounting flange with a 2mm-3mm drill. Remove the front
and enlarge the holes in the flanges to approximately 18mm in
order to fit the fasteners flush and rivet them in place.
wire the electrics use a 7 pin trailer socket. Remember , you
only have to wire two contacts for the left and right indicators,
one for the high beam, one for low beam and one for side lights,
and one for earth, six in total.
glass fibre £85
(separate bonnet) glass fibre £115
(separate bonnet) Vauxhall/Honda converted Mini front end, glass
(separate bonnet) carbon fibre £225
fastener (spring and clip) £4.50
prices from ABS Minis (see Contacts)
- February 1999.
Two piece hinged glass fibre front end
Complete fibre-glass shell
Carbon-fibre boot floor
Carbon fibre bumpers
Carbon fibre battery box
Vauxhall/Honda Fibreglass front-end from ABS Minis