MINI Paid Off & Stealth Bubbles

Hood respray

Like so many things with this car, you never really know what’s wrong until you get out the grinder. After I finished painting the roof, I found a bubble in the paint on the hood. At some point in it’s tortured existence, something very heavy landed on the hood of this BMW. The hood is mostly straight, but it sits about a quarter inch lower than it should at the hinge mounting point. It sat so low, it rubbed against the top of the throttle control link which wore a hole through the hood liner. I took the liner off, but there was no rust from the underside of the hood. I took the grinder to the bubble and found nothing but bondo. Evidently the bondo wasn’t bonding to the metal so well and had created a bubble in the paint. Sort of odd, but fixable with better prep work and more bondo. I tried to blend the patch, but trying to blend flat paint doesn’t work so well and I ended up respraying the whole hood.

But that wasn’t the big news of the day: I finally paid off the MINI today. If you know my history with cars, you’ll appreciate the magnitude of this day. For the first time since March 1988, I don’t have a car note of some kind. Now I just have to resist all of the deep discounts, once-in-a-lifetime-sales-events, zero percent financing, and cash-for-clunkers offers. That convertible we have, which probably wouldn’t sell for $1500, is worth $3500 if traded against a passenger car that gets 22 MPG or better. And Volvo currently has a $2250 discount on new 2009 V50s. The BMW 335d qualifies for a $4500 tax credit. I’m just saying….

Stealth Gets a Deeper Shade of Black

Roof in primer

I finally finished my rattle-can respray in black. Well almost. I have a rust bubble I have to finish on the hood, but otherwise it’s finally done. My goal of a more or less uniform satin black finish is almost realized. The last bit of major painting was the trunk and deck-spoiler.

spoiler primer

That actually turned out pretty well.

spoiler black

I need to rub-out and polish the whole thing, but it’s coming together nicely. I’ll post pictures with the spoiler painted as soon as it stops raining. This one shows the roof done before I finished the spoiler.

roof done

Well, there’s your problem…


I’m pretty sure that there steering rack belongs somewhere under the car…

Day 1 of the steering rack adventure is complete. Without making too much of a mess, I managed to get all of the hoses off, fluid drained, and the old rack removed. The tie-rod links proved to be a pain, but after much wrangling, the whole thing finally came out.

If installation is the reverse of removal, do I have to bust my knuckles and pinch my fingers in the same places as I put it back together?

Stealth Not Ready for Prime Time

I was hoping I’d be able to make it to the May NCC HPDE at Summit Point at the end of the month without having to replace my steering rack, but no luck. The boots are full of fluid. There’s also a vibration in the drive-line which probably indicates the U-joints are shot.

Of course, this model doesn’t have replaceable U-joints so you have to replace the whole drive-shaft. The good news (as such) is that a replacement isn’t that expensive, and a good, re-manufactured and balanced shaft is only about $400. Of course, you have to drop the entire exhaust from the header back to get to it…

Since there’s no way it will be repaired before next weekend, I thought I catch up on some of the details I skipped when I rushed on to the track in March.

Caliper Before

I’ve always really hated how the stock rotors and calipers just rust away. If you’re running the old bottle-cap wheels, you never see it, but with the open track wheels it really looks poor. Hopefully the extra coating won’t add to the heat build-up.

Caliper after

And no, I didn’t forget the retention spring. I’m just letting the paint dry before putting it back on.

Stealth Ready for Shakedown

Suspension Done

With more than 24 hours to spare, I finally finished the F-22 for the first track outing of the year. Since I was running out of time, I had Dan Martin’s shop finish the front suspension and fix the cam gear seal.

New Ride Height

I’m really impressed with the Bavauto springs. The ride height is aggressive but not slammed. The ride is firmer but not harsh. I’m looking forward to getting it on the track and seeing if I still need to upgrade the sway bars. Compare the ride height to the 20 year-old stock set-up.

front before

I also had them install the IE front strut bar as well. The bar looks really slick in basic black.

Strut Bar

Now all I need are some go-fast stickers…