This past week has brought some worry and some excitement, mostly in the monetary department. Running my own business means taking responsibility for dealing with the numbers, and satisfying Mr Tax Man that I’m a good little boy. It came as something of a surprise, then, when I checked the HMRC web site on Boxing Day to discover that in fact my Self Assessment Tax Return had to be done and dusted by the end of this month. Clearly I had got confused, since I thought that was due later on, but never mind. I therefore set about downloading a year’s worth of bank statements, categorising all my incomings and outgoings and tallying that against my business records, before finally being able to plug the right figures into the online system to tell me how much tax the government was going to demand of me.
As it happens, the whole process was far less complicated and stressful than I thought it was going to be. The online Self Assessment system is easy to use and doesn’t use too much jargon, which is good for people like me who have trouble adding two numbers together, let alone knowing the difference between net and gross. I always thought a net was something for catching fish. Anyway, in the end I managed to give it all the information it wanted, and told me that I had paid about £1100 more tax than I should have done in 2006-07. Thanks.
So I shall be expecting a deposit of just over a grand in my bank account fairly soon. That’s quite nice, though obviously it’s something I ought to sort out sooner, as clearly I wasn’t earning interest on all that money. Nevertheless, I now have an extra thousand pounds or so to play with, and although I could just let it sit there and pay the bills, it would be nice to think it could be put towards something useful. Hence the title. Yes, this has got my thinking about what lovely things I could buy for my Mini this coming year, if I play my cards right. Obviously I’m not going to be able to pump the whole grand into the car in one go, that would be silly, and my wife would probably complain.
Here, then, is a list of things I would like to do to Neddy in the near future, in no particular order. I don’t know how much they all cost, and some of them will inevitably involve taking the car off the road, which is a bit of a problem as I need to be able to get around during the week, so that’s something that’ll have to be worked out if I do decide to take the plunge and do anything big. Anyway, here’s the list:
- Spotlights under front bumper. This is something I’ve had my eye on for a while now – I know what I want, it’s just a case of buying and fitting them. Should give me a little more light on the road, and an extra bit of individual style too.
- Braided brake hose for front wheels. Upgrades the standard rubber hoses, and effectively makes the brakes a little more responsive.
- Minifins for rear wheels. These are upgrades to the standard brake drums, that are more efficient, increase braking power, and keep cooler. They are quite expensive though, for what they are, and in any case most of the braking takes place at the front wheels.
- Grooved front brake discs. Better brake discs mean more braking power, which means I can stop more quickly and more controllably, and grooved discs are apparently very good.
- Stage 1 manifold and link pipe. At the moment, the exhaust fumes coming out of the engine go through the standard manifold before going into the nice RC40 exhaust system, so upgrading the manifold should give better airflow, and hence more power. It does involve a fair amount of work, just to get to the back of the engine bay.
- De-rust doors and wings. Yes, Neddy has a little tin-worm in a few places. Thankfully there’s nothing structural that’s rusted (that I know of), so it’s just a case of sending the car off to someone to have the panels replaced and repainted.
- Body-coloured wing mirrors and wheel arches. Mmm, lovely Kingfisher Blue paintwork. But it would be lovely to have that on the other exterior trim too. I would probably replace the wheel arches at the same time actually, as a couple of them are split and falling apart.
- High level brake light. Nothing massive, just a line of LEDs in the back window.
- Cigarette lighter. Actually I already have this part, it’s just a case of wiring it in and fixing it somewhere. Probably the dashboard. Which means taking the dash off and drilling a hole in it.
- Push-button starter. Not your stripped-down racer style, but the sort you find on sophisticated modern cars with keyless entry and suchlike. Again, this will be mounted on the dashboard somewhere, and will either double or replace the third position on the ignition switch, charging the starter motor.
- Pedal set. Some nice red pedals would look nice.
- Glove box light. Open the glove box door, and hey presto – a light comes on. At least, that’s the plan.
- Boot light. As above. But in the boot.
- Boot lining. I’ve already tidied up the floor with a bit of cardboard covered in the bit of carpet that was there before, but it would be good to do a proper job eventually, and I happen to have a friend who could do it for me.
- Clean the engine. Yes, it’s a mess. It’s been leaking oil for a while now and the engine block is covered in black grime. Not nice.
- Stop the oil leak. To reduce the need for further cleaning.
- Tune the engine. Power and efficiency isn’t the best at the moment, so it would be good to get it put on a rolling road and get it professionally tweaked, maybe even get the ECU remapped. I’m not looking for a huge power increase, just make it more efficient in what it’s already doing.
- Red mesh behind the grille. I’m still not completely convinced yet, but it would be nice to do something more with the grille. My initial idea was to remove every other slat and put some mesh behind it. We’ll see.
- Remove bootlid light casing. At the moment I have a chrome light over the number plate, which is rather bulky. I would like to replace that with something more streamlined. Not sure what yet.
- LED foglamp inset in bootlid. As standard, the Mini foglamp is a rather crude box fixed underneath the bumper, which always looks like it’s about to fall off. A far better solution would be to mount one actually in the boot lid, like modern cars.
- Upgrade interior light. Because the standard one is rubbish.
- Fix clocks lighting. The bulbs lighting the clocks at night are rather dim and uninspiring, and the rev counter is permanently in darkness because the light isn’t connected up. Also, the left indicator bulb doesn’t light up. So all of that is in desperate need of some stylish LEDs.
- Replace front door bins. Ever since I bought the car this has been on my list of to-dos. They’ve been cracked and disintegrating, and are in urgent need of replacement.
- Phone holder. Something small but sturdy, so that my phone doesn’t fall around every time I drive over a bump.
- iPod holder. You can get proper iPod docks for your car, but they’re expensive. I’d be quite happy just getting another phone holder really, as that does effectively the same job.
- Replace rear window. Only three demist bars work at the moment, and I fancy it’s going to be easier to replace the whole window than to try fixing the dead bars.
- Replace side repeaters. At the moment Neddy has awful square orange things mounted on the wings. Not particularly inspiring. However it should be fairly straightforward to replace them with more modern glassy ones to give it a little more class.
- A good clean and polish. Just for good measure.
So there we go. A long list of intended plans for my lovely Mini, some of which I might manage to do over the course of the next few years, depending on my budget. Some of them are more achievable than others, unless I get a new job or something, so I can’t see many of them happening imminently. That said, if anyone would like to donate towards this project, your money would be much appreciated. Think about it this way – surely it’s better to spend money on something you can see than getting drunk down the pub every weekend? So go on, donate your spare income to a worthy cause, and invest in history.
Well, sort of.