How to install one of our MPi Classic Mini dashboards?

One of customers wrote the following installation guide to help you. This is written from his point of view and we hope that it will help you with your installation. This was an MPi dashboard for a later model classic minis. 

Notes on Replacing the dashboard on a Rover Mini MPI.    

There have been lots of different dashboards fitted to MPI Minis. This set of notes should cover most variants, but detail differences cannot be accounted for.

The original dashboard on my Mini was looking a bit worn, with lifting lacquer and a load of scratches. I ordered up a new dash from Anglo Classic Car Parts, and it arrived within a couple of days.

I first disconnected the battery, just in case I shorted something essential while fooling around in the wiring.

The old dash is held in by 3 bolts, to get to them you remove the side air vents, both sides, (by unscrewing the front like a jam jar) and the air supply tubes behind them. You also remove the radio and its mounting bracket, if fitted in the centre of the dash.  The centre bolt is accessed via the radio slot and is easy to see.  The outer bolts are accessed from under the dash rail. The lefthand one is pretty easy to find, about 6inches back against the wheel arch. The right hand bolt is hidden by the fuse box and the bonnet cable release, and needs a long, slim socket to get to it. 

If you’re not used to working upside down in no space whatsoever, then just take it slowly and use patience! Once those 3 bolts are removed, there’s a rubber toothed bracket top-centre of the dash which gently holds the dash in place.  I pulled it down a bit with one finger, and the dash started to move, but only a little bit!

There’s not a lot of space behind the dash, but you have to disconnect the immobiliser light (there’s a convenient ‘pinch’ connector about 4 inches in) also the main multi-connector to the back of the instrument panel, the clock has 2 connections, the speedometer is a ‘squeeze’ fitting but don’t lose the fibre washer behind it! The rev counter has another push-connector to deal with, and the adjustable headlight switch has a multiconnector which pops out from the top.  Once all the connectors are removed, tuck them out of the way, because the brackets which hold the dash in are cumbersome.

Before the dash comes out, it’s best to remove the bolt which holds the steering column up. To get to this, you’ll need to remove the screws which hold the steering column cowling on, remove the cowling, and the large bolt is visible on the right hand side below the ignition switch. Removing this bolt allows the column to drop about 2 inches, which is enough to get the dash out. DON’T yank it down, all sorts of things could get busted.

Once the dash is out,  take some photos of the back before you start anything else! You need to remove all the brackets (Keep left left and right right), instrument panel, indicator green lenses (push gently from the back with a pencil) The headlight controller comes out from the back, after the knob is removed from the front.  The clock and any extra gauges come out through the front. Remove the glove box itself keeping track of the screws, and the glove box door catch (both parts).

Place both the old and the new dashboards face down on towels on the dining table, to start the reassembly. Use paper and pencil to make templates for each bracket, to mark the exact positions of the mounting holes (3 metal brackets along the bottom and 1 rubber at the top) from the old dash to the new. Mark the positions carefully using the templates and check them twice.

There is an extra bracket in the middle of the dash, above the radio slot, but it wasn’t doing anything on my dash, so I left it off.

Set up an electric drill with a very small diameter bit (3mm is good) and limit the available length so that there was no way it could penetrate through the thickness of the dashboard. Then drill the mounting holes and refit the brackets as they had been on the old dash, to the new one.

Next job was the glovebox catch, which was positioned as it had been on the old dash. Care here: fit the fixed part first to the door, then the moving part to the frame. You need to be sure the moving part is close enough to keep the door closed, but far enough to open from the outside. 

Once the catch is fitted, locate the glovebox itself making sure you have clearance all round. Use measurements from the old dash to confirm before drilling any holes and screwing it in place.

At this point (or before) you’ll notice that the old dash has a ratty felt edging all the way around, to prevent it rattling and banging on the bodywork. The new dash doesn’t come with the felt edging, so  order 2 of 5m lengths of black adhesive felt edging tape (the original was brown, but I prefer black) and apply it in 2 layers all the way around the new dash, being careful to maintain a constant distance from the edge of the front face.  Whilst the adhesive might have been enough, it should not move when it was re-installed, so  staple the whole way round with a staple gun, on about 5cm centres. The original was stapled, so it was probably a good idea.

At this point, its worth trial fitting back into the car. My brackets needed a bit of ‘bending’ to get them exactly right, so the bolts engaged properly. Really important to hold the bracket with tools at both ends, so you are not applying pressure to the screws holding the bracket to the dash. It’s easy to rip the brackets off if treated wrong. Anyway, should only be a little bit of bending to get an easy fit.

Next add the indicator idiot light lenses (the green ones) from the front of the dash. It took about 5 goes to get them straight, and finally a ruler was used to get them in line. Then the instrument panel, which only really fits in one way, and use the original screws to hold it in. Next was the clock with its bracket, then the immobiliser light assembly, and the headlight adjuster.

By now, your dash should be looking about ready to go back in. Check from the front to ensure there are no unused holes!

 At this point, it’s good to have an extra pair of hands to help, as the dash is now heavy and unwieldy. Open both front windows to have manoeuvring room.  Since the steering column is still loose and out of the way, feed the dash in over the top of the wheel, keeping an eye on all the various wires behind the dash. Start connecting from the right, the headlight adjuster first, then the rev counter, the main instrument panel connector, the immobiliser connection and the clock and any other guages, and the speedo last, not forgetting the extra washer which you didn’t lose when disassembling, (because the cable is very short and there’s no space behind the dash to do anything else once it’s connected.)

Pull the radio/speaker leads out through the radio slot so you know where they are before you attempt to align the brackets and get the bolts coming through their respective holes.  When all the brackets are correctly located, fit the nuts and tighten the centre first, then the outer 2 bolts. Don’t over-tighten them!

Once that’s done, lift the steering column and replace the big bolt that holds it in place. Get the strain off the steering rack. Refit the steering cowling with its screws.

Before going any further, check the radio cables are out of the way and not shorting, then reconnect the battery, switch on the ignition and see that all the lights come on. Switch off the ignition when satisfied.

Open and close the glovebox door to make sure it does (open and close).

Next to be refitted are the airvents. Each airvent comprises 3 parts: the air feed tube which goes in first, then the ‘eyeball’ part and then the front cover. The eyeball part has 4 lugs around the back edge, which will not all fit through the holes in the new dash. Remove one of them with a file so it becomes flush on one side. The eyeball will now slot into place, locating with the feed tube behind, and the front cover screws on to keep it all in place.

And that’s pretty much it! Give it a good clean with a damp cloth (or automotive polish if you are so inclined) to get all the nasty fingerprints off it, install the sound system and connect everything up. Make sure you don’t have any spare nuts, bolts, washers or other essentials left behind.

Job Done!