After a huge roll during qualifying at the Brands Hatch Mini Festival, of course the main concern was that Colin Peacock walked away uninjured. Motorsport is inherently dangerous, that’s all part of the thrill, but no one wants to see damage to cars and especially not to drivers.
Thankfully today’s Mini Miglias are built with both safety and speed in mind, with impressively strong multi-point rollcages that essentially make up the main structure of the body.
Surprisingly the car was not a complete write-off, and now Leigh Dale of Mondo Sport is in charge of bringing it back to full health. “It's a proper job, but it's certainly not going to be finished over night,” he says. “There wasn't much of the original shell left once we started stripping it down.”
Regular road-going Minis, whilst revolutionary in design for the era, were never renowned for safety. Designer Alec Issigonis famously insisted on his cars having good brakes and handling to simply avoid accidents, and upright seats to stop the driver nodding off!
But we digress. The point is that although Colin jumped out with little more than bruises and frustration, the original Mini bodyshell of his Mondo Sport prepared Miglia looked beyond repair. The cage did a perfect job, but there was not a single straight panel left on the shell.
Surely then it have been easier and cheaper to start from scratch? “No not really, as finding a good shell to start with isn't so easy anymore,” Leigh continues. “In my opinion the brand new shells aren't as well built as the Rover shells and most second hand ones need replacement panels anyway. That’s before you start cutting bits out and removing all the sealant.
“Before even thinking about fabricating a rollcage, there’s bulkheads, seat frames and other fabrication to consider – loads of work on a new build. Also, as this is being rebuilt on a jig it will be back to 100% square. The cage itself was perfect apart from one bent tube.”
Next on the list is to remove the offside front sections of the shell for repairs, where the car has been supported on through-the-sill axle stands over the years.
“Unfortunately it's not going to be ready for the first few races of 2017,” says Leigh, “as there’s a hell of a lot of work still to do and I’ve a fair few other projects in progress at the moment. Most of the running gear was destroyed too. I don’t know about the engine yet, if it was damaged in the accident or not.”
Above all, we’re impressed that Colin’s car is being saved rather than scrapped. “Yeah I think that's the best thing – it shows you what extent Minis can be repaired to,” says Leigh. “It was a good car and well worth saving. When it’s done it will be like new again, and one of the best prepared cars on the grid I think.
“The repaired car should end up looking quite similar to before the accident – I think that’s Colin’s aim. The only change is that we’re going to try and remove a little more weight from the shell, as it was a bit overweight before.”
New panels are being painstakingly re-welded back together as we type, so keep an eye on the website for more updates on this amazing rebuild.
Thanks to Leigh at Mondo Sport for the images.