...Dave Wallis took a different slant on the idea when he began looking at the rod-change gearbox, which utilises a simplified action on the selector shaft, as he explains. "On the rod-change gearbox, the gears are changed by a selector shaft that exits the rear of the gearbox. This shaft runs parallel with the front to rear axis of the vehicle and is twisted and moved back and forth via a rod from the gear lever to change gears."
Dave figured that if the shaft simply came out the front of the gearbox, and the engine mounted at the rear of the car, the directional movement required to change gears would be the same as normal
To test his theory that both gearboxes could be changed simultaneously, he modified a gearbox to allow the selector shaft to exit the front, then set this up with a standard box on his kitchen floor.
"If I could not convince myself the gear change was going to work, then the project was not going to happen", he explains.
When all seemed to work well from a single gear stick, he set about finding suitable donor cars for the project. Like any true-blood Mini enthusiast (he had four Minis at the time) Dave already had a lot of parts on-hand. A thoroughly rusty but running Clubman was bought as the donor for most of the mechanical parts, and another Clubman body collected for the price of the tow.
The second Mini turned out to be a Clubman GT shell, according to the various tell-tales found on it, but it had no front, interior, engine, brakes, compliance plate or known history, so it was hardly going to be sacrilegious to use it for the project.
"I was not aware it was a GT until I started to clean it up", Dave reveals. "Someone had filled in the right-hand tank hole. It had holes for the pop rivets for the boot board supports, the breather hole for the fuel pump, and RH tank retaining brackets spot welded inside the boot, as well as the body number on the bulkhead behind the clutch master cylinder.
What Dave did with the car is the subject of a twelve-page report, that was submitted with the engineer's report in order to get the car registered in South Australia.
In essence, the body changes included fitting a Mini De Luxe front and Mk2 taillights, while the rear bulkhead and seat assembly was cut out, along with most of the boot floor.
Cross members were welded in to strengthen the body and to provide pick-up points for the original mountings on the standard front subframe fitted in the rear.
The remaining boot floor was modified, with the battery repositioned slightly. The exhaust tunnel of the floor was modified at the front to accept the rod-change, while the rear of the tunnel was enlarged for the muffler from the front engine.
At the front, mechanically, the car is fairly standard, but does sport a second clutch master cylinder. There is still only the one clutch pedal, which activates both master cylinders.
Brakes are the standard Cooper S disc/drum set-up, and wheels are Dunlop alloys. The steering on the rear wheels has been locked using rose-jointed and adjustable tie-rods.
The arrangement on the accelerator pedal cleverly adapts a second cable which is operated from the original pedal. "The rear cable and linkage are adjustable to ensure that the front and rear closed and full throttle occur simultaneously", Dave explains.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 20 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>28</plumshop> <plumshop>27</plumshop>