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Snorty and Friends

Snorty started life as a standard Mini Italian Job with a base Sprite 1275 A+ engine. His former owner (a Mrs. Brenda Scrivens) had him for about a month and then cruelly abandoned him in favour of ..A VAUXHALL NOVA!! Apparently she did her back in driving him. I found him languishing on a Vauxhall dealers forecourt, with only 1400 miles on the clock.

Snorty was with me for four years and did 65000 miles, including a fairly rough time when I was unemployed and couldn't afford to service him properly, and being used as a 'Company Car' because I worked for an American company too mean to buy pool cars (note to US Readers - the UK is small enough for you to drive everywhere. Therefore if you are a technical rep you usually get a company or pool car to use on business.)

I bought him originally to go on the annual Italian Job rally, but because I lost my job I had to give that up. (Oh, and my so-called 'Partner' pulled out without paying a penny, leaving me to lose my £50 deposit.) Snorty retained his Italian Job run promo stickers, which must rank as the most expensive stickers out (£50!)

Snorty was carefully modified to increase top speed to 105mph and power output to 60BHP(at the wheels) and regularly embarrassed standard Rover Mini Coopers, which are supposed to be quicker than Sprites!

Amongst the purely cosmetic alterations were the addition of "Michael Caine" signatures to the Italian Job Bonnet strips, and the custom window sticker "On a Mission for Mr. Bridger".

Regrettably the ownership of a nice car these days seems to be a liability. The move to Stainless steel bumpers came about due to a minor modification to the black ones by someone who should have been looking where he was going. They were rusting anyway. Ho hum. The Boot lid had to be replaced due to more automotive carelessness - its probably twice the age of the rest of the car. Chrome doorhandles were purchased due to someone trying to (and failing) barrel the lock at Rubery before Xmas'95, and the other side has had to be replaced due to some nasty person I caught trying to LEVER THE HANDLE OFF to get in & steal the radio whilst I was parked in Bradford. The idiot didn't have the common to use a bent coathanger down the window rubber. The lights at the front were all fitted with stone grilles, including the driving spots. This was due to flying stones smashing one spot and one main light on the motorway.

The complete modifications done to Snorty were as follows :

  • Removal of Catalytic Converter.
  • Free-flow conical K&N Filter.
  • Rolling Road tune with Carb needle & Spring replacement.
  • Std. Exhaust changed for large bore 2 box replacement.
  • Wipac High-intensity lights fitted.
  • Stoneguards fitted to main and spot lights.
  • Chrome Doorhandles and Numberplate light.
  • Rover Stainless steel bumpers.
  • Chrome-on-brass washer jets.
  • Urethane Upper Bushes on Engine Steady.
  • New Engine Mounts, and Remote Gearchange steady Bobbins
  • std. manifold replaced by Competition water-heated inlet & a LCB outlet manifold.
  • New Fuel Pump!
  • Replacement of leaking driveshaft oil seals

Over a length of time Snorty began to have problems at high revs. Initially I suspected the engine mountings, and as the problem came to a head going back after the 1996 Castle Combe track day, I replaced the top and bottom mounts, including urethane top mounts. It STILL vibrated, and coughed, and jumped out, so I replaced the rubber bobbins on the gear lever. It stopped jumping out, but still coughed at high revs. Finally, I replaced the standard cast inlet/outlet with a maniflow LCB exhaust manifold and a second-hand Minispares inlet. The inlet manifold fouled the heatshield, and so I had to hacksaw a chunk out of the bent section that supports the throttle and choke cables.

A combined service/driveshaft seal replacement/rolling-road run had been booked for the Thursday (Oct 10th) and during the rolling-road run they found that the juddering was caused by fuel starvation. The petrol pump pressure was down to zero. A replacement was soon procured. Snorty was soon back to his 105mph glory (on the Rover speedo, which I wouldn't trust anyway) with a reading of 60BHP at the flywheel. The Maniflow exhaust gave a tremendous boost to the mid-range torque, making a considerable improvement in acceleration.

Lesters recommended that the carburettor should be changed to the HIF44 as the 38 was on a triple-A needle, leaving no headroom for further modifications. It seems that Rover de-tuned the Sprite 1275 by fitting the HIF38 as opposed to the 44.

Unfortunately Snorty lasted in this state for a month. I had an accident on 26th Nov 96 which completely wrecked his front end. I got out with just bruising on the chest (after being whacked by the steering wheel), but Snorty was a complete write-off. I got two quotes on the (slim) possibility of rebuilding him and was told that I might as well buy a brand new car, as the work involved would cost in the region of 8000ukp. A reshell would have been possible, but difficult, because the front panels were completely wrapped around the suspension and engine(!). As well as that, I rely on having a car for getting to work and gigs, so that was it. Four years of Love and Care and Attention gone due to some fat BMW driver who was off out for his lunchtime pissup.

Copyright © 1998,1999,2000 Steve Dix. All use of registered trademarks is for purposes of satire
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