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The low down radical GT Sprint Ross Ferguson kept his dream of building a steel bodied Sprint on the back burner for a while... but when he got the chance to convert a Clubman he ran with it. Words and Photography Jon Cass.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Why is the owner of this bright blue Wolseley Hornet wearing a set of ear defenders and a massive smile on his face? That frantic Yamaha R1 motorbike engine that’s now wedged under the bonnet will probably explain it… Words: Sam Preston Photography: Jonathan Fleetwood.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCAR #Rover-Mini-Cooper-MPi-Sportpack / #Rover-Mini-Cooper-MPi / #Rover-Mini-Cooper / #Rover-Mini / #Mini-Cooper-MPi / #Mini-Cooper / #Mini
Year of manufacture 1998
Recorded mileage 74,179
Asking price £12,995
Vendor The Real Mini Co, Berinsfield, Oxfordshire; tel: 08456 090117; www. therealminicompany. com
WHEN IT WAS NEW
Max power 64bhp
Max torque 70lb ft
0-60mph c11 secs
Top speed 94mph
This twin-injector Mini has received an extensive body restoration – the newer cars rust worse than the older ones, but it’s encouraging that this example has been saved even though it’s still not yet financially viable.
It’s had just about every panel replaced apart from the roof, rear pillars and bootlid, including a complete plug-in floor section with crossmember and sills, plus outer panels. Even the jig brackets were added back on, but they’re lightly squished. After that it was extensively Waxoyled in the box sections and stone-chipped underneath, so it must be much better protected than new. The fresh subframes are powder-coated in body colour.
The wheels are lightly kerb-kissed and the tyres are a mix of ancient Pirellis and Dunlops, but a new set of tyres and replacement wheelnuts will be included in the deal to improve the appearance. There’s a small ding in the rear bumper and the spare is a steel wearing an old Camac radial. Inside, the interior is in original condition, refitted. So the seat leather upholstery is lightly creased and the MGF-type steering wheel as used on these late-model Minis is quite worn. The headlining is clean but not perfect. The dashboard veneer is okay, plus the missing gearknob badge and choke blanking plate were due to be replaced.
The engine wasn’t overhauled because it didn’t need it, although the seals and gaskets were replaced, as well as the clutch, and the gearbox was rebuilt. The coolant is nice and pink and the oil clean, both to level. The fuel-injected A-series starts easily, and it drives tidily. There’s a tiny hint of balljoint rattle over potholes (though they’re new), but the ride will improve with the fresh rubber. The steering is as direct as you’d expect, the brakes are nice and firm, and the synchros all function well. The rev counter didn’t work but the clock does. The Mini will be sold with a fresh MoT, the service book and a photo album of the restoration work.
EXTERIOR Rebuilt structure; fresh paint
INTERIOR ‘Original’, so a bit worn
MECHANICALS Feels healthy and sorted
For Bodyshell better than new
Against Looks a little pricey, but it cost more than this to restore
SHOULD I BUY IT?
Keep in mind that you’re buying a new shell rather than a used Cooper. If you want a truly rot-free Mini that should last indefinitely if looked after, then this is for you.
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- Post is under moderationCHASING CLASSIC CARS #1978 #Austin-Mini-1000 #Austin-Mini-1000-Automatic #Austin-Mini #Austin #Mini-1000 #Mini
ASKING PRICE £9995
This Mini has emerged from more than 30 years of storage in timewarp condition and has been barely used since.
For an unrestored car, the condition of this Mini’s bodywork is exceptional. All the normal grot spots – the A-pillar, the door bottoms, the welded joins around the headlights and beneath the rear window – are free from corrosion, while the Snapdragon Yellow paintwork has no marks, bubbling or blemishes. It’s the same story when you look at the boot floor, which is completely solid. With the exception of missing wheel trim on the nearside, all the fittings are present and correct. In case you’re wondering, it spent the first four years of its life overseas and was only registered in the UK in 1982.
The interior is in equally good order, although minor scuffs on the steering wheel rim ring true for a car that’s covered 35,000 miles rather than being locked away at delivery mileage. The brown velour seats are unmarked and free from tears, the headlining is clean and has no signs of sagging, and the door linings and trim are complete. It’s been fitted with three-point rear seatbelts, although there’s no indication in the history to tell when the work was carried out.
Unlike the spotless exterior, the engine bay is a little grubby and could benefit from some TLC to bring it up to show standard, but there are no signs of any oil or coolant leaks. The 998cc A-series starts up willingly, and although there’s a little fanbelt squeal when setting off, it revs freely and doesn’t seem to have been stifled by a long spell in storage – a previous owner secreted it away in 1984 and it only re-emerged earlier this year. This particular example has also been fitted with the rarer four-speed auto, which blunts performance but doesn’t have the typical transmission whine of the manual models.
ON THE ROAD
While the kickdown on the auto transmission was hesitant to engage – something the vendor says has now been remedied, but check it on your test drive – there’s little to criticise about the way this Mini drives. The willingness of the A-Series showed there’s plenty of life left in this car’s unit, and the steering felt tight, immediate and free of play. It’s softer-riding than most Minis, and there are no nasty clonks or rattles from the suspension. There’s also no tell-tale knocking of split CV joints during tight manoeuvres.
While it’s strong money for a non-Cooper Mini – especially one with no documents to back up its history – you’ll struggle to find an unrestored example in as good condition.
AT A GLANCE
Completely free from rust
Very good condition apart from minor marks on steering wheel rim
No problems running-wise
PROS Top condition, low mileage
CONS Price, lack of history
TORQUE 52lb ft@2700rpm
MAXIMUM SPEED 71mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION 38-40mpg
TRANSMISSION FWD, four-speed auto
MoT April 2016
Bradley James Classics, Overton, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG25 3EB
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- Post is under moderationDON’T MAKE ME ANGRY MINI KAD 16V TURBO #Austin #Austin-Mini
Or, how to make a utility car do a quarter mile in a shade over 11 seconds. What’s green, mega-powerful and doesn’t fit in its clothes? No, not The Hulk – Carl Austin’s 235bhp #Mini , that’s what. Words James Winstanley. Photography Matt Woods.
Adjective – a describing word. That’s what we were taught, right? Over the years for special, rare and modified cars, many of these words have been nabbed from the public psyche, many have been reinterpreted with an automotive slant, and many have been invented. Stanced, for example, if any youngsters are reading. And of all those cars over the years, nothing has ever been such a font of overly augmented describing words than this – Carl Austin’s Mini. That really is his name by the way.
Aggressive? Check. Inspirational? Double-check. Purposeful? A quivering check – it’ll punch me if I don’t. However, what about cute? Strangely yes, check. Nothing has been tuned, accessorised and restored quite as much as the Mini, which makes it even more impressive that after all these years, something can still come along and blow your trumpet socks off, yet still retain that underlying Mini charm.
‘THERE IS NO REAR SUBFRAME AND THE FRONT IS MADE FROM TITANIUM’
Carl, as you might expect, has been into Minis for as long as he could hold a steering wheel, and this particular chapter of his back catalogue comes in two volumes. The first was when he originally sourced the permanently Almond Green coloured donor back in 1993. Bought as a bare shell with just the subframes and front discs included, Carl had an aim from the outset and the plan to build a very specific hillclimb car. That he did in double quick time, initially starting with the typical body rectifications. ‘It needed the usual rust repairs, sills, wings, front lower quarter panels, nothing too serious,’ says Carl in the way that only those au-fait with rotten Minis can do to make a lot of welding seem like a ten minute job.
Within six months though it was all restored and complete with the mods required for competition, built to run in the sub-1400cc touring car hillclimb class of the era. This was a glorious motorsport series, where entrants were required to keep the trim and interior so the cars appeared and largely remained standard on top, but they came clad with slicks and arches underneath. Minis, as you might expect at the time, were a dominant force to be reckoned with and Carl’s had all the usual Mini mods you would expect, centring around a period tuned A-Series.
After two or three seasons of competition with success and plenty of wins to its name in Carl’s hands, the Mini was confined to the workshop corner. Other cars came and went and metallic tick of the clock was soon ringing up its numbers in years rather than minutes.
In 2008 though, the Mini’s chapter re-started. By this point Carl was heading up a company called Force Racing in Leeds, specialising in the supply of what they describe as ‘the most exotic parts available for the classic Mini.’ And that company strapline is not exaggerating.
Carl had already started on the engine build before the car was to see light of day again, and it’s about as extreme as they come from a powerplant that by this point was celebrating its 57th birthday. Needless to say still an A-Series underneath, but apart from the block, it’s a long, long way detached. The 1293cc bottom end is rebuilt with Mini Spares forged pistons, and the lightweight rods and lightened and balanced crank are Carl’s own work, refined over decades of A-Series developments.
The big news is up top though, where he’s fitted a KAD small valve, long case 16V head with a set of L14 (280˚ duration) cams. The notion of a twin cam Mini has been around for a little while, with both the KAD units and BMW bike-derived donor heads being used with great success, and the fact they’re just as popular now only goes to show the strength of the classic aftermarket Mini world.
Carl built the engine himself, which is why when he decided it needed more power than a regular 16V upgrade could offer, courtesy of forced induction, he didn’t mess around with a paltry off the shelf kit. Starting with a GT25 turbocharger, Carl put a new setup together to feed the mutant A-Series. He fitted a custom stainless turbo manifold to suit, along with a new homemade stainless exhaust system. At the other end his design of inlet manifold is used to great effect, both thermodynamically, and of course aesthetically. ‘It didn’t fit as you can see, but that didn’t matter, nor did the turbo.’
Carl found that a Mk3 Golf GTi throttle body was the right size for his needs, and matched this up with a set of injectors from a Rover Tomcat coupé on the fuelling side. The intercooler and radiator you can see hammering home the chiselled jaw of the Mini are also made in-house, in fact just about the only thing that isn’t Carl’s own handiwork was the final mapping of the #Emerald-ECU , done by his mate Tom with help from PPC’s very own Dave Walker. The transmission, as you might expect, had to be as raw and fitting as the rest of the package, so a Jack Knight straight cut dog box was used with a limited slip diff, brought into use with an aggressive paddle clutch.
We can throw whatever expletives we like at the powerplant, with its aftermarket multivalve cylinder head, one-off turbo kit and home-brew money saving, but the real adjectives of honour must be saved for the rest of the car. The suspension and running gear to be exact, which as well as providing this car with the parts needed to make it a rolling test-bed and showcase, also spawned the whole business of Force Racing, selling to other keen owners.
The centre-lock 7.5x10in FN wheels might be the exclamation mark on the end of this Mini’s style statement, but behind them lies all manner of extremities. Upfront, Carl has developed, tested and now sold not only a full titanium replacement subframe for the Mini, but also a set of top and bottom arms, compression struts, uprights, anti-roll bars, drive flanges and drive shaft axle bars from the same exotic metal. This Mini has the lot fitted, and with titanium being the wonder material that it is, this means ultra lightweight chassis components without any sacrifice in strength or stiffness. The front subframe for example weighs just 6.5kg, nigh-on 1/3 of the weight of the standard part, yet is stiffer thanks to extra mounting points to the body and internal bracing.
At the rear, there’s no subframe at all, instead using a pair of Force alloy trailing arms (complete with alloy rear hubs) designed to seriously reduce unsprung mass. Along with a set of titanium brackets, these then mount directly to the heelboard of the Mini’s shell. At both ends there are Spax coilovers replacing the more traditional Mini spring medium that would look hilariously out of place on a car built to this level.
Carl’s primary aim was always to reduce weight in his car as well as creating the best chassis components available, and although the Mini isn’t used for hillclimbing these days in its new form (a new regulation compliant project is underway), it’s still well used as more than a showpiece.
The same can’t normally be said of a Mini shell but in Carl’s case, much of the original steelwork has also been made redundant in pursuit of the ultimate Mini. The front end, complete with its various puncture wounds for bulging engine parts, is a complete one-piece lift-off fibreglass moulding, and the same composite is use for the doors, bootlid and bonnet, plus the diffuser under the rear end. The windows are of course polycarbonate, and inside there are more holes in the gearlever tower than there are actual components in the cabin itself. Just a Motordrive bucket seat and steering wheel can be classed as trim, the remainder being a lightened pedalbox, hydraulic handbrake, lightweight battery plus wiring and gauges. Anything not significant or required was trimmed to within an inch of its life.
Words though, no matter how descriptive, can only go so far. You need the figures. That’ll be 235bhp at 7750rpm, nearly nine times the power output of an A-Series in its most basic form, and 200lb-ft at 6000rpm, more than four times the same. The quarter mile is passed on the dragstrip in 11.1secs, and that’s because Carl’s car weighs a frankly astounding 456kg, having lost 25% of the mass from the world’s most famous tiny car. That’s some achievement. The fact it has been done whilst drastically improving the woeful rust resistance of a Mini’s normal underpinnings thanks to using trick materials? Well that needs a new adjective.
TECH SPEC FORCE RACING MINI #Mini-Tuning
Engine: 1293cc A-Series, MiniSpares forged pistons, Force Racing lightweight rods and lightened and balanced crank, KAD small valve, long case 16V head, L14 cams, #Garrett #Garrett-GT25 turbocharger, custom stainless turbo manifold and exhaust, Mk3 Golf GTi throttle body, #Rover-Tomcat injectors, Force Racing intercooler and radiator, Emerald ECU.
ransmission: Jack Knight straight cut dog box, limited slip diff, paddle clutch, titanium driveshafts, centre-lock 7.5x10in Force Racing FN wheels.
Chassis: Titanium Force Racing front subframe, titanium top and bottom arms, compression struts, uprights, anti-roll bars and drive flanges, rear Force Racing alloy trailing arms and alloy rear hubs on titanium brackets, Spax coilovers all round, 250lb/in and 120lb/in springs, front and rear disc brakes.
Body and Interior: One-piece glassfibre front end, glassfibre doors, bootlid, bonnet, rear diffuser, polycarbonate windows, Motordrive bucket lightened pedalbox, hydraulic handbrake, lightweight battery, Almond Green paintwork.
Power: 235bhp at 7750rpm
Torque: 200lb-ft at 6000rpm
You’d be brave to pick a fight with this in your rearview mirror. Intercooler, radiator and alloy tanks made by Carl to suit.
Carl’s home made inlet manifold uses a Golf GTi throttle body.
‘Elf and safety at its laser cut finest.
‘IT HAS MORE THAN FOUR TIMES THE TORQUE OF THE ORIGINAL’
Gear lever tower shows the extremities of Carl’s weight saving. An A-Series engine on it’s way to a near- 10 second drag run.
‘ IT WEIGHS A FRANKLY ASTOUNDING 425 KG AND COVERS THE QUARTER MILE IN 11.1 SECS’
Almond Green shell used to compete in hillclimbs, but interior is far sparser in its second life.
KAD assembly is one of two 16V head transplants for the A-Series.
GT25 turbo wouldn’t fit under the bonnet. Carl didn’t care.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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