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Making your Minor stand out from the crowd (as if it doesn't already!)
You'll notice that I said 'widened' rear guards, with quote marks, above. This is because I recently bought, sight-unseen, a pair of 'widened' fibreglass guards from The MMC in Sydney. The advertisements say that the guards are 2 inches wider than standard. This was confirmed by the manager over the phone before I bought them. On arrival in NZ when the guards were layed flat on the floor side-by-side with the standard items, the 'widened' guards did not sit any higher than the standard ones. When fitted to the car it was obvious that although somewhat 'fuller' in the middle, the new guards were no wider at all! A tape measure run across the middle of the guard from the top of the bolting flange to the top of the wheel arch did show a difference of about 1 1/2 inches but with no difference in the overall width. I was forced to go with these guards, swapping the 205/60x14's with 185/60x14's, since the 1996 National Minor Convention was only 2 days away.
The moral of the story? If you are going to fit fibreglass panels to your car, be very aware that the quality of the panels can vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Panels from one factory can even be quite different from day to day, so if at all possible, try to fit the panel to YOUR car before you buy or give the manufacturer the final payment. If that's not possible then get a written guarantee that if the panels don't fit you don't pay for them or you get some that do fit.
Minor saloon taillights come in 3 flavours - red-only brake-only (pre-56), red-only brake/tail/indicator (pre-1098cc's) and red/amber brake/tail/indicator (1098cc's only). The red-only taillights are very hard to see during the day, especially if the lens is not what it once was.
The late-model red/amber taillights are great. They look good and are nice and bright. The only trouble is, here in New Zealand, there's not a whole heap of them around. Finding a set in a wreckers yard is like finding a British car that doesn't leak oil! So what do you do if you want others to see that you're slowing down or turning? Pinch a set from a Volkswagen Beetle!
Yes, the Minor's German cousin has a set of taillights that fit very nicely on the tail of a Minor. The early sixties VW's in particular had tear-drop shaped lights that suit the Minors lines very well. The later VW taillights are not quite the right style for a Minor, and the ones from the seventies Beetles are just downright ridiculous! The teardrop taillights are very similar in size to the late-model Minor lights. Fitting them to a Minor 1000 is much easier than to earlier models because the 1000 already has the indicator circuit running to the rear of the car. Earlier models with the indicators in the door pillars require some rewiring from under the dashboard right through to the rear of the car. Only a couple of holes need to be drilled in the rear guards to mount the VW lights. Just make sure you get the lights lined up both vertically and equal distances from the edges of the guard, otherwise it will look very lopsided!
Other options are to fit separate indicators. There are a multitude of aftermarket light fittings available, but the best option I have seen is to fit a set of rear indicators from a late-model Minor Traveller. These lights are just like the front park/indicator lights from the Series II/1000 Minors but are amber instead of clear. If Traveller lights are hard to come by, then scout around a few classic car shows or club outings and see if you can spot a common one that uses the same sort of lenses - Austin A35's for instance, or Rovers, Jaguars, etc etc.
Get rid of your standard old lights and fit some sealed-beams.
The standard Minor headlights are nearly useless when it comes to driving around the countryside on a stormy black night in the middle of nowhere and not a street light to be seen. Both 5" and 7" sealed beam units are available new, so even those of you with LowLights have no excuse! Sealed beams are simply 400% better than the standard items, with the benefit that they still look like the standard headlights. General Motors vehicles produced over the sixties, seventies and even into the eighties commonly used 7" sealed-beam headlights so you should be able to find a set of these fairly cheaply.
Better still are a set of high-powered halogen lights. Hella, Lucas and Cibie all produce a set called the (imaginatively named) 'H4'. Hella produce a flat-face unit whereas Lucas and Cibie can supply either flat-face units or the more familiar domed units. You have the choice of what wattage bulb you put in them too. A fairly normal bulb is the 80/55 but I would opt for the far better and brighter 100/80. Anything more than this and you will need to start using relays. A set of halogen headlights will improve your night vision immensely. Highly recommended!
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