Vince - Dash
By now we are at the front of the interior, and there followed a lot of trial and error, probably more error than I wanted but the changes I was looking for I couldn’t buy off the shelf.
What I was looking for was a wood dashboard as found on the early Mini's. It's possible to get a wooden dash for a modern MINI but it appears only for teh left hand drive version, so my challenge was to make my own for a right hand drive car.
My start point was the down tubes either side of the radio. Partly as I had these off the MINI anyway as I was changing the radio and also because I had bought a spare set to play with. The first challenge was to decide how to apply the wood effect. There appeared to be four methods open to me, veneer, paint, dip, and vinyl. Using veneer works for the classic mini, but my skill with veneer was not good enough to deal with the multple curves especially around the air vents, let alone with developing a means for the airbag to work. Paint was the next most obvious method, and whilst my father is very good at applying wood effect via paint, again my skill for painting walnut effect wasn't up to it. This left hydro dipping. To be fair I've seen some very impressive work with this and I did give it a go, but I just wasn't happy with the results. While I was trying this I also bought some vinyl and of the two solutions I found this easier to work with.
Once I had completed the tubes I started on the dash itself and the automatic transmission gear shift cover and the mirror control unit. There are plenty of videos on youtube so I will not go through how to take the dash apart. What I learned doing this is that it's very easy to burn your fingers, and a hot air paint stripper is easier than a hair dryer, but other than this, following the online advice for fitting is straight forward. The next relatively straightforward job was refitting, just a reverse of the taking apart process.
I stood back, admired it, and my partner said “it’s a bit 'woody' isn’t it?” She was right (but please don't tell her I said that), I had over done it, so of the uprights came off and as I had some black leather hanging around I trimmed the uprights in leather to match the gear shift.
That looked better but there was still something missing, so again back to the classic car mags… Chrome, I needed chrome. Fortunately MINI supply packs of this so a set of chrome trim was acquired and fitted. At the same time I also trimmed the automatic gear selector with a wood top, thinning out the vinyl so the indicator light shone through the vinyl. I need to finish this as the leather trim needs re-fixing to the chrome ring.
At this point it’s probably worth mentioning the subtle changes to the badges, like Mini but with an orange background to co-ordinate with the wood dash, most obvious on the steering wheel and the airbag sign, but also front and rear badges. Again, the silver acrylic model maker’s paint was used to restore the silver ring on the steering wheel.
Read More: Vince's front
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