The Knapp Family's Classic Mini Collection

We're not aware of a survey on this, but at a guess, the demographic of Mini owners has to aging year-by-year. The Mini was once a staple daily driver for 17-year-olds, but they're largely hobby cars today, and well into classic status. 

So it's always good to hear of fresh faces coming through, often taking inspiration from parents who grew up driving old Minis. Once you've been a Mini owner, it's hard to let it go! 

The Knapp family from Somerset are one such Mini family, and we've been sending them over a large range of A-Series tuning parts for a some time now. Dad George leads the family's Mini hobby, with his four sons, Charlie, Jack, George junior and Riley all inheriting the passion for this iconic little car. 

We caught up with Jack, to learn more about their shared hobby, and the current Mini collection, which has been housed in an impressive workshop for three years. "Our unit is now kitted-out with a two-post ramp, which has been a massive improvement on working on the Minis," he says.

"At the back of our unit we even have a powder-coating and shot-blasting cabinet, and there's always at least one project on the go."   

George has owned eight Minis in the past, and in his teenage years was always tinkering with them.

"I can remember when we were kids," Jack continues, "Dad used to drive us around to our primary school in his baby blue Mini, but it wasn’t long before he sold that one and shelved the project cars for a while.

"But then, when my older brother started driving, he had a Rover Metro GTA five-door and in red, before swapping to a Mini."

Inspired by his son's latest car, George senior was back into Minis. "My dad managed to find a really solid shell," says Jack, "and Charlie began to take apart and repair all of the metalwork that needed attention. I ended up as an ongoing project for five years or so."

After a year or so of it being on the road, Charlie decided to take it all apart again to transform it into a race-spec Mini with removable front end and bolt-in rollcage.

"He had spent a lot of money on building the engine," Jack continues, "it was a 1275 bored to +60 thou with Omega pistons, a steel lightweight fly wheel and a throttle body set up with ECU." 

The interior is stripped-out like a competition Mini, with extra gauges on the top dash rail, a racing steering wheel and rollcage. It looks perfect for an occasional trackday at the nearby Castle Combe circuit. 

Elsewhere in the Knapp household, George junior owns this tidy Tweed Grey Mini on deep-dish 10-inch alloys. "He bought it as a complete car originally," says Jack. "It had a standard engine, but with help from our dad and our mate Shawn, they gave the engine a complete refresh. Shawn also owns two classic Minis too - they're everywhere around here!"

The grey Mini's engine has been treated to a new set of piston rings and main/big end bearings. There's also a set of straight-cut drop gears, so the sound track matches the race-inspired looks.The rebuild has pretty extensive, right down to a bare shell and reassembled again with a whole host of upgrades.

It’s the latest Mini to be finished in our unit," Jack confirms. "Actually it only  passed the MoT the day before Beaulieu Mini Cooper Day, so it was a real test to see if we could make it down there, as the MoT centre was the furthest it had been driven before then!" 

George senior's latest Mini is a red and black saloon with MkI rear lights and grille. "It’s only running a 998 at the moment and so Dad is slowly building a high performance 1275 for it," says Jack.

"He's been getting most parts from MED, including a complete modified cylinder head, 1.5 rockers and cam kit, and all the new parts arriving each month are making him excited about the finished engine."

Other plans for George's marvellous Mini include a set of 10-inch Rose Petal wheels and 7.5-inch Cooper S discs and calipers to suit. With the RS camshaft, 1.5 rockers and Road Competition cylinder head, it should be good for just over 90bhp all being well.

Moving to Jack's latest Mini, it was bought from Facebook Marketplace as a bare shell for £1300. "It was pretty solid, but we soon replaced one front wing and the front panel," he explains. "I'm really chuffed with the colour choice of mine - Island Blue with a white roof, painted by our friend Shawn."

With such a well kitted-out workshop, Shawn has actually painted four Knapp Minis over the past few years, all under the same roof to make things cost effective. It sounds like everyone needs a friend like Shawn! 

Charlie has recently added another project to the household, a former Mini Miglia that he has plans to go racing with. It's a bare 'caged shell at the moment, but judging by the rest of the Knapp collection, that won't faze them too much!

Oh and did we mention the Minivan yet? Charlie has one of those too in the works. It's just a rolling shell at the moment, but Jack suggests it's pretty solid and won't take too much work to get into a presentable state.

"We also have a younger brother named Riley," adds Jack. "He's only 11 and we very often take him to the unit as well to help out, because he also shares the love for the Minis.

"He's learning, and I’m sure he will soon pick it up soon, as we call him 'wrecker' at the moment. He is very good at taking stuff apart and not being able to put it back together!" 

Jack explains that they've had a dream for years for the whole family to get involved with Minis, and it’s slowly becoming a reality. They've certainly got their hands full with this collection and we look forward to seeing what comes next.

If you'd like to stay in touch with their Mini adventures, search for Revived_classic_minis on Instagram and TikTok. Thanks again to Jack for sending us in some pics and a little info on the Knapp family's collection. 

If you have some projects you'd like to share with MED, please get in touch and we'd be happy to help!

Stephen Colbran

June 2024