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“The greatest car of all time” and “The Car of the Century” Autocar and Motor Magazine on the Mini
Though built on a genuine 1275 GT version of the Mini Clubman as confirmed by its ‘XAD2’ chassis number – a classic in its own right today with nice Cooper S’ fast disappearing over the £30K horizon – it is fair to say that this somewhat modified machine has its own identity and appeal.
We are pretty sure most people know what a Mini is and has (or more perhaps more relevantly, hasn’t) and if you don’t, where have you been for the past 50 years? We hence won’t dwell on the standard offering but rather focus on what distances this from that.
Mini’s have been modified to varying degrees from pretty much the day the first example hit the road in 1959 and generally speaking the intention has been to improve performance though some companies such as Radford took the path of offering greater luxury – quite a ‘low hanging fruit’ in the case of the Mini it must be said! The fundamental laws of physics dictate that the route to this better performance is via a reduction in weight or an increase in power, preferably both. It could be said that a previous custodian of this wee beasty has taken this strategy to a whole new level.
Comprehensively lightened with extensive use of 21st Century carbon fibre, this child of the 1960s is now propelled by an A Series engine boosted to nearly three times the power the car enjoyed in its original GT guise. Backdated looks are achieved through the use of the more rounded front end of the original design complete with seven bar Morris Cooper grill and period ‘button’ fixings teamed with the smaller, more-shapely rear lights the Mini was launched with. Finished from a bare metal (or carbon fibre) base to a high standard in rather gorgeous Vauxhall Arden Blue metallic paint and sitting on generously proportioned (but still 10” diameter for that 1960s stance) Ultralite alloy wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan A032R 165/70 tyres, the Mini certainly looks the part kerbside.
Inside a pair of Cobra Monaco race seats, Willans harness’ and a six point roll cage continue the no-nonsense, competition vibe. The obligatory steering column lowering bracket is present and correct and the custom made dashboard houses the classic Mini ‘3 dials’ supplemented by a more modern boost pressure gauge. Drilled alloy door handles are teamed with barely there webbing door pulls. A KAD quick-shift gear change and knob are present along with a Mini Spares steering wheel.
Bodywork consists of the basic steel Mini body-shell modified forwards of the A panels with a carbon fibre flip front secured with Dutz fasteners, which covers a standard front sub-frame. Further use of ultralight carbon fibre has been made for the doors and interior door cars, boot lid (a super lightweight, high-tech bungee cord keeps it shut!), bumpers and even the parcel shelf and roof panel. Fiberglass wheel arch extensions are also fitted and these parts alone cost some £1,430 back in 2007. At the same time the body was modified to take the smaller rear lights while the exterior fuel filler was deleted and the car was painted to the high standard previously referred to. The Mini also sports carbon fibre door mirrors and polycarbonate windows all round to further shed the pounds and the Mini Magazine article featuring the car scientifically calculated that it must "weigh something akin to an empty crisp packet".
The extensive history file covering the past 12 or so years of the Mini’s life tells the story of the owners’ diligent search for more power. The hunt for horses appears to have started in 2005 with a 1293 motor inhaling through a 1 ¾” SU carburettor. This solid stating point was dyno’d at a respectable 84 BHP and 80 lbs/ft of torque on Mini specialists Slark Race Engineering’s (SRE) dynamometer.
In 2006 the stakes were raised with a Slark SR2 head which was teamed with a Weber 45 DCOE carburettor and the SRE dyno confirmed that the numbers had jumped to 93 BHP and 85 lbs/ft – a useful increase but frankly nothing compared to what was to come.
Late in 2006 one of the best ‘names’ in the Mini tuning business, MED, also stepped up to bat. These ‘A Series Engine’ tuning gurus were retained to produce a 1380cc engine. They started with an A+ block to which they added a ni-tempered, cross drilled, wedged and polished crank from which they hung new lightened, balanced and polished rods. Low compression Omega forged pistons were paired with a 285 cam, duplex driven of course, competition bearings throughout and a competition head gasket. An eleven stud, ported and chambered ‘rally’ head with 35.7/30.0 valves and roller rockers topped the block while underneath they tucked a straight cut, close ratio gearbox with helical drop gears, cross pinned diff and 3.44 crown wheel and pinion. The icing on this particularly rich cake came with the acquisition of a Vmax supercharger kit in 2007 and the whole ensemble was entrusted to SRE for setting up. There is no record on file of what this engine actually produced at the time, other than a £5,668 sized hole in the owner’s bank account. However, the owner and Slark themselves were apparently less than happy with the reliability and drivability of the car at first and further development was undertaken to the installation of the Eaton M45 supercharger (borrowed from the Mini's BMW descendant). Megajolt electronic ignition and the sustitution of an SU HIF44 carburettor plus its associated plenum and inlet manifold from an MG Metro Turbo all helped improve the car immesureably. A 17% reduction to the blower pulley bumped boost to 14.5 psi and in 2011 (it maybe took the owner a few years to pluck up his courage) the SRE dyno lit up at a frankly mind boggling 152.9bhp (136.1 at the wheels)/148 lbs/ft torque. As noted earlier, Mini Magazine featured UOK 871H on its front cover (February 2011 issue) with the strap line, “Could Slark’s clever supercharger installation be the next big thing in forced induction?”.
Further developed since then, the engine bay is quite an eyeful with the supercharger and its dustbin-sized air intake almost dwarfing the engine itself, along with an intercooler, waste-gate and that massive carburettor. An aluminium radiator, rocker cover secured with ‘T’ bars and blue hoses throughout complete the picture. An engine bay mounted Filter King fuel pressure regulator is teamed with an ‘Ali Fab’ fuel collector and competition electronic fuel pump in the boot.
Mini Spares vented front disc brakes with alloy four-pot calipers and Goodridge hoses reign in this lightweight’s heavyweight punch while fully adjustable suspension featuring rubber 'HiLo' equipped cones all round plus Gaz front and Gas Spax rear shock absorbers (all adjustable) bolster the Mini’s already legendary roller skate handling. Twin air horns supplement the car’s early warning system - AKA the centre exit exhaust (coyly referred to as "Not the quietest exhaust you'll ever hear" by Mini Magazine). Though cosmetically a little below par, the running gear all appears to be in fine mechanical fettle.
Other recent highlights from the receipts held on file are:
Though lightly used, the Mini has been MOT’d consistently over the past four years and in September 2016 a pair of wiper blades, a new rear wheel bearing and a new brake pedal ‘anti slip mechanism’ (rubber to you and me) procured an MOT certificate with no advisories. The shell appears to be very solid indeed with apparently only minimal localised repairs ever having been needed. The floors are sound and tidy as can be seen in the photo gallery.
We have come across some remarkable machines here at Berlinetta but this fire breathing Mini-monster has to be right up there with the best of them.
Registration number: UOK 871H
Chassis Number: XAD2 84273A
Engine Number on V5: 2504