As detailed in Issue 14, when the Mk 2 Minis were released in Australia, cost constraints on production meant they did not inherit the changes made to the body shell of the UK Mk 2 – namely the larger rear window and changes to the grille.
However, because the Aussie Mini already had wind-up windows and numerous smaller changes made to the body, they were quite different from their UK cousins. From 1965 to 1969 the Mini saloon range consisted of Mini Minor (Morris 850 up to March 1966), Mini De Luxe and Cooper S. With the introduction of the Mk 2, the range remained with three models, but the non-Cooper S received greater improvements than their sporty brother.
The biggest mechanical change was with the fitting of the 1098cc engine from the Morris 1100 into the Mini, and the addition of the full-synchromesh transmission.
The 1098cc engine used the same bore as the 998cc, but with a slightly longer stroke. With the accepted attitudes of the time, the synchromesh was described in brochures as being; “a real face saver for the girls”.
The base model was renamed the Mini 1100 (see next issue for full story) while the Mini De Luxe Mk 2 (as it was known within the factory) was renamed the Mini K.
The letter K literally stands for Kangaroo. It was conceived by the marketing and sales department, and indicated the uniquely Australian nature of the car. The Mini K (and Mini 1100) reached the highest level of Australian content to that time (the first of the Clubman Minis from 1971 were arguably higher) with local content of at least 85%.
They were also the first Minis, anywhere in the world, fitted with the 1098cc engine as standard equipment.
Like the late model 998cc Mini De Luxe engines, the 1098cc engines for the Mini 1100 and the Mini K were all assembled in Australia. However, this was used as a marketing strong-point for the first time with the Mk 2 Minis.
The Mini van also benefited by receiving the 1098cc engine fitted as standard, though without the gearshift extension of Mini K.
The 1098cc gave an increase of 25% power, up from 40bhp to 50bhp, over the 998cc. Torque also received a substantial boost, from 52 lb/ft to 60 lb/ft, yet the Mini K could still, according to the brochure, get 50 mpg economy (though in practice that was a bit optimistic, even for the 998cc). Modern Motor (June 1969) recorded 35mpg, which is more like it.
The rocker covers on these engines carried an embossed Australian-only logo which featured a map of Australia with MOWOG struck through it. Also unique to Australian Minis at this time was the ventilation oil baffle on the top of the rocker cover.
While the engines for the Morris 1100 were painted gold, the Mini engines all became the light green metallic as used on the Cooper S. Another unique feature of these Aussie-built 1100 engines was the use of head bolts, instead of head studs.
The engine number prefix for Morris 1100 was 10Y/Ta/H, for Mini 1100 and Mini van it was 10YJ/U/H and for the Mini K it was 10YC/Ta/H.
According to BMC Standards; 10 is for 1098cc engines; Y is Australia; J or C are for engine variants (J for commercial, C for Mk 2 De Luxe); Ta is for standard ratio gearbox with remote gear selector; U is for centre-change gearbox; and H is for high-compression.
Production of the Mini 1100 and Mini K began in March 1969 and, like the Cooper S of the same period, did not have either vehicle identification plates or Compliance Plates – the latter not fitted until 1 January 1970.
Identification of these cars is similar to that for the Cooper S. The chassis number will be stamped onto the radiator shroud, while the body number (approximately 500 less than the chassis number – because the chassis numbers started at 501) should be on the rear bonnet drain channel – though may be concealed by paint (see Issue 14, p66).
The chassis prefix for the Mini 1100 is YG2S3, while the Mini K is YG2S1. This is a reversal from the previous models, where the Morris 850 was YMA2S1, and the De Luxe YMA2S2. However, the Mini Minor, which took over from the Morris 850, was YMA2S3. So, it would seem that the Mini K preceded the Mini 1100.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 18 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>24</plumshop>