We have recently had an in-detail update of Mike Garstangs excursion to Harewood Hill Climb which was held last weekend on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd. You may have read a few posts previously about Mike and his Cooper S as he is somewhat of a regular here at Mini Sport and is a true Mini fan!


“So, with a successful outing at Barbon Hill Climb behind us it was on with the thinking cap while I decided how to tackle the suspect cam timing. After a quick chat with the gurus at Minisport I decided to strip the front end of the engine in situ and then put the car on the trailer and take it over to Padiham so that the cam timing could be checked with a dial guage (something I didn’t possess when I rebuilt the engine – rather defeats the point of fitting a vernier cam pulley I suppose!).

After some painstaking key hole surgery I removed the radiator, fan, crankshaft pulley and timing cover to expose the vernier. The near side engine mounting and top steady bar needed to be slackened off so that the engine could be jacked up a bit to give better access to the vernier pulley.

I was pleased to see both Mick and Ian set about the timing and in no time at all they’d discovered that the inlet valve timing was out by 4 degrees – ouch! Everything was double checked and the car loaded back onto the trailer. A trip to France got in the way of the front end rebuild but when I got back the engine was quickly put back together  and then it was out onto the nearby fell roads for a quick road test.

Wow! The difference was immediately noticeable. Loads more GO and plenty of torque. It felt like the dizzy would need some minor adjustment to keep up with the corrected cam timing but I ran out of time in that session and returned home with a big grin.

I had a quick word with the gurus at MINISPORT to thank them for their work and with a trip to Harewood Hillclimb scheduled for July 2nd&3rd, I arranged another quick run on the rollers to do some simple dynamic checks of fuelling and dizzy timing. Fuelling was found to be good and after some adjustment of the dizzy the whole package was a lot smoother. So, with many thanks to Rob the Road and Rob the Shop I nipped home via Waddington and Lythe Fell – and the “S” didn’t disappoint over the fell roads.

Harewood was a round of the National Hillclimb Championship and Saurday was given over to practice (4 runs) while Sunday comprised one further practice run and two timed runs. The weather was very hot on both days so grip was going to be good and conditions just about ideal for some quick hillclimbing.

In a big field there were only 3 Minis! My “S”, then a stripped out 1000cc turbo clubman and a Scottish Mini running a Hayabusa bike engine and 4WD. I ran in a Class full of modern machinery up to 2000cc so I knew that I was going to be competing against my own times.

1st practice brought a smile when I improved on my previous personal best (PB) at Harewood by 1/10 sec. On the 2nd run I got well sideways in the 90 left just before the finsh timing beam and equalled my first timed run.

Having run Yoko A008s all round on the first two runs I swapped the fronts for a pair of Yoko 032Rs. Another 1/10th was chipped off during the 3rd timed run and on the 4th run, despite trying hard (too hard?), I only managed to equal the 3rd run. Happy? Just about – 1/10th of a second on a hillclimb is quite a gain but I was convinced there was more to come…… I wasn’t wrong either.

On Sunday morning’s practice run I lopped a massive 2 sec’s of Saturday’s best time and went on in the afternoon’s two timed runs to improve on each run until I’d taken 2.4 sec’s off my previous PB at Harewood. On Sunday I suspect the driver got his act together and did justice to the much improved “S”.

Interestingly, although there was thousands of pounds worth of exotic machinery competing at Harewood, the “S” had a steady queue of fans young and old in the paddock. Hillclimbing the “S” puts a big grin on my face and there seems to be an awful lot of folk out there who enjoyed seeing a period “S” being put through its paces. It would be good to see a few more classic Minis taking part in hillclimbing.

Over the next few weeks it will be back to navigating on a few historic rallies but I hope to be out in the “S” at Harewood in August and either at the Bo’ness Revival in Scotland in September or back to Harewood for their September event.

Happy? DELIGHTED – thanks for all the help and advice MINISPORT.”