Words: Calum Brown
Pictures: A Kindly AA Man
Calum escapes back to Edinburgh to spend some time with his 1992 Mini Mayfair. Then wishes he hadn't bothered.
Hate is a word usually reserved for low-fat foods and Windows 8. However, my Mini Mayfair ‘Audrey’ appears to truly hate me - it despises me on even a molecular level. For the best part of 18 months I’ve ensured that the little red bull has been kept safe and warm in an underground storage facility, free from the rain and the dangers of the outside world. I’ve even travelled north at great expense to continue work on getting it back onto the road and provided it with 24 hour watch under a security camera. Yet, it’s like greeting a disgruntled, knife-wielding juvenile upon arriving at the facility in Edinburgh. I genuinely suffer anxiety upon clocking its headlamps poking out from its parking space, as Audrey’s demonic puppydog face scans the car park - searching for me in a sinister manner, picturing the many ways in which to kill me off.
Since last updating the team back in February 2016, the Mini from hell has only started up and moved once - and even then it soiled itself and promptly poured every fluid imaginable, some of it green, all over the ground. It’s punishing me for something, albeit I’m not sure what. Tired of Audrey’s irrational behaviour, I felt it was time to delve in and inject some logic into the engine bay and interior.
‘Time for some tough love, you unspeakable lunatic’.
There was blood everywhere. My arm was cut open; the tools released from my grip into a dank, coiled, pool of black oil and my red stuff. The bonnet had come down on me, without warning. After much swearing and some bandages, I set back to work. All I wanted to do was drain the oil, and yet I looked like something out of Casualty.
Now unable to open the bonnet, as the release clip had jammed, I decided to check under the floorpans to judge the level of crustiness. My magnet wouldn’t stick to anything. The sills appeared to be constructed from 100% filler, which explained the strange handling characteristics when I bought her. Then, scraping away some rust on the boot floor my screwdriver plunged straight into what felt like an air lock. The rear of the car was rampant with the tin worm.
Having failed to change the oil, jammed the bonnet release, cut myself open and then depressed myself at the lack of metal holding my Mini together, I then felt that attacking the interior would offer some sort of success. Instead, I was met with a variety of spiders - some the size of my head, I swear - and enough mold to create a new Austin-Rover cheese.
The heater had clearly been leaking while the car was in storage, resulting in my red carpets resembling a 1950s b-movie horror beast from the depths. There was more horror to be found when I then moved onto the brakes, which were solid - almost like cement holding each wheel in place. It felt wrong to start laying into the minilites with a sledgehammer, but it was the first taste of victory since starting this epic work 3 hours earlier.
After breaking open the bonnet catch and successfully draining the oil and radiator, having then topped up with fresh fluids, I removed the old battery and connected up a new one. There was ignition light! The fuel was slightly old, fearing a stale fuel supply, but the urge to start her was too much to bear. Unbelievably, Audrey spluttered into life. Except, the victory was short lived - in my excitement, I had forgotten to check if the vehicle was in gear - and the Mini jumped back, clattering off the wall. Then the engine cut out and I couldn’t get it going again. Then the rear bumper fell off completely.
If I weren’t so determined to get her on the road again, she would be bean cans by now. The saga continues...