I’d loved owning my first Mini, modifying it, breaking it, fixing it, driving it like I stole it and there was just no other car I really wanted. But my first Mini was all I could afford at the time and it was cheap for a reason, many reasons actually.
I wanted something better and I had a bit more cash available in 2002 when I turned 20 so I got looking for something. The first thing that came up in my price range was a completely standard Rover Mini Cooper RSP in Bexhill. It was the first and only one I looked at and became my second Mini. If I remember right I paid £2000 for it which was pretty much every penny I had but it was worth it!
At the time I bought it I had no idea that being an RSP made it one of the genuinely pretty special ‘special’ Mini models. The internet wasn’t really full of all that kind of information yet. What I was interested in was that it was a good colour, had a 1275 engine and a decent interior.
Some info on the RSP can be found here. I don’t seem to have any pictures of my RSP as it was when I bought it but here’s some pictures taken from an advert for one for sale which looks just like mine started out.
So during my ownership I got stuck into modifying my Mini. I wouldn’t dream of modifying a nice Cooper RSP now especially given their current values! But at the time there were loads if Minis out there for all budgets and at 2k mine was still at the lower end so not considered hugely special or valuable. Now, nearly 20 years later classic Mini values are quite different.
Back in 2002 digital camera’s weren’t something everbody had and camera phones, say what? Camera phone? You mean a phone with a camera in it??? Well you get the idea, I don’t have many pictures of my Cooper RSP but below are the few we did get after I’d modified it.
I have never been a fan of spot lights on the front of Minis so removing them was the first thing on my list.
At the time the Sports Pack MPI Minis were very popular and pretty cool in my eye’s so we fitted some genuine Sports Pack arches and some Sports Pack wheels but with the slight variation of being a highly polished bare metal finish so no paint or lacquer. This meant they could be seriously shiny but were a nightmare to keep clean!
Maniflow had just released a new ‘wheel barrow’ twin side exit type exhaust which I decided I needed. Not something I’d choose now.
Something I probably would still do now is fitting twin SU carbs. They made it sound so much better and with the exhaust it would pop and bang on the overrun. What more could you want?
Seeing the Toad alarm siren in that picture reminds we also fitted remote operated central locking with the Toad alarm. That was just next level for a Mini at the time!
Gotta have a sub in the boot in some kind of install, it’s 00’s after all! The speakers usually placed on the rear shelf were removed to really let the sub bass through into the car. We also put some Infinity 6×9 3 way speakers in the foot well under the rear seats and some surface mount tweeters on the top dash rail. It actually sounded decent and went far too loud which is probably a big part of the reason I have tinnitus now.
At the time LCD screens in modified cars was a thing but pretty rare still. I wanted one in my Mini to paly DVD’s and run a games console. No I’m not really sure why now either. But anyhow that’s what I wanted back then, the problem was how to do it without it costing a fortune. I didn’t have the kind of money to spend that other modified cars, full of screens, owners had.
So I came up with a plan to use one of these.
Sony produced these screens to plug into the mini PS One. Integrating one into my Mini was going to be some work but the important thing for me was that they were way cheaper than any of the automotive specific LCD screen and DVD player options at the time and I already had a PS2.
So I bought one and we pulled it apart to get at just the screen and figured out all the SCART lead (remember those) and audio connections it would need to hook up to the PS2. The PS2 also needed 240V so that had to run off a 12 – 240V inverter. With that sorted I made a dashboard then my mate Ste’s dad carefully routed out a hole for the screen to be mounted onto from behind. After a fair bit of gluing, screwing and cable tieing the dash and working screen were in the Mini. The inverter just fitted in a rear storage bin and there was a load of wiring and some kind of multi SCART connector I found, hiding under the passenger seat.
Notice the seats have changed here too, I found them in a local scrap yard in a Vanden Plas Rover Metro. They started out blue and I dyed them black which took ages. We fitted them using some old bucket seat subframes that we welded some brackets to with a crappy old stick welder my dad had which would always overheat and cut out half way through your job. Here’s a picture though this is the best one I could find as apparently they were pretty rare.
This is how the interior and ICE install finished up. Playstation 2 under the lower dash rail in a bespoke shelf. Fancy Pioneer head unit with double facia. Finished with a PS2 controller on the steering wheel. Also now an LE500 gear knob and Mountney leather steering wheel. I still have the steering wheel.
As I said, screens playing films or games in cars was not a common sight at the time especially at Mini shows so my Mini was often quite popular at shows.
Our closest Mini show was at the Kent Hop Farm back then and they would always run a sound system sound off competition. I entered it one year.
The number on the display shows 124db though I seem to remember reaching 130db. Either way that’s definitely too loud, again, I have tinnitus now.
They also ran an exhaust sound off. Well I had to enter that too, obviously. I think my exhaust peaked that test at 113db. Again, too loud. I wonder how I came up with the name noisymini all those years ago?
While searching for pictures of my old Minis I came across a few of my mates Minis too. This is Liam’s…
…it was loud too.
And the blue Sports Pack here was my mate Ste’s. You may have noticed reading this that I’ve referred to ‘we’ a fair bit, well myself and almost always Ste are the we. Playing with Minis and taking them to shows all over the country is what we both did with a lot of a our spare time back then.
Ste still has a Mini now though slightly different to this one. More details of that another time.