Driving an iconic car, so small, simple and fast, it’s always fun for a petrolhead, imagine to do it during a day dedicated only to the driving pleasure, with my friends of Car-Shooters, well, that’s even more.
To capture the best shots and seeing the Mini in action we travelled together several kilometres, up and down the hills outside Florence.
The Mini that I have the opportunity to own is definitely used to drive several km, even just for a little ride or for an event (In 2015 I also participated in the Col de Turini and the British Tour Day by TF Passion). This little car is experiencing a second youth, he came after years of rest. A forced rest, had left a sad patina and a humble look.
The time of rebirth came in 2012, when the dear friend Pablo, after having heard for years extolling the qualities of British cars, has made the decision to take her at home and deal with the restoration. We worked together from the start, to combine our individually experience and ability in order to accelerate the stages. It all started with the total removal of the interior and mechanics and soon it was clear that this would not be a restore to the original configuration, not a real restoration.
The decision was made peacefully because, not being a Cooper version, would not be sacrilegious to change appearance and characteristics and the temptation to increase the aggressiveness was really unstoppable. After all, the Mini has always been the subject of customizations, from the beginning, both in his native England and around the world. The naked body was so sent to the bodywork and immediately the dilemma of choosing the color was present. Dilemma solved then leaving aside the sober and going to choose between shocking colors and not original ones (specifically has passed since his “Silver Leaf Metallic” to “Green Apple” made by Piaggio, it must be said however that the green “Apple Jack” from Mini was not very different).
Then we defined the external livery, which also provides some black details, like the bonnet stripes and the “Sports Pack” (consisting of additional fenders, 4 front auxiliary lights, alloy wheels with Minilite design and wide tires). For the interior we agreed for the simplicity of black leather, chosen for new coatings, was enlivened with green stitching apple. In this aesthetic boldness it was necessary then to combine mechanical and chassis a in a more appropriate way, providing immediately to widen the roadways and to provide the braking system of front discs.
The puzzle was then composing, and in the meantime they were prepared engine and gearbox, restoring them. The engine has been improved thanks to the kit “Stage One”, composed of the intake manifold, exhaust, carburettor (45 mm or 1 “3/4 to put British style) and air filter. Once reassembled the whole thing, putting her in the street, after about two years of work, was exciting and, at the same time, a bit stressful!
Once restored I could appreciate the great dynamic qualities of the Mini and immediately was able to focus on how this small and in its revolutionary machine for the time had been able to gather so many sporting successes. Nimble, agile, well-planted on the ground and with a very neutral behavior. A front wheel drive that understeers little or nothing and that, once inserted in the curve, faithfully follows the correct line. The direct steering gives a great feeling, the brakes require some attention. Stopping distances are acceptable but It’s easy to block the wheels.
Even today, moving around for searching the best place for the photo-shoot, I was amazed about the fantastic dynamic behaviour of this car. We finaly find the right place for taking pictures and this has allowed us to appreciate the beauty of the Trebbio Castle.
A place not only satisfying for the eyes, but also rich in history and charm, because of its objective beauty and the aura that surrounds him: important people of the Pazzi family (an important Florence dinasty) has been there, the legend says that in her rooms had been hatched the conspiracy with the same name, when they tried to overthrow the power of the Medici of Florence, in 1478. Special thanks go to the managers and staff of the Ristorante La Sosta del Gusto, who received us with great kindness and have gone along with the demands for creating the best set to capture the Mini, the castle and the landscapes. A day meteorologically a bit grey, enlivened by the bright green and perky-looking of a great classic of British motorsport, matched to the timeless Italian architecture and beauty of the Tuscan hills. Thank you Car-Shooters!
Text: Gianluca Torini
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti
Video: Marco Dellisanti