Friday, 9 March 2012

MR VTEC Turbo Mini Is The Definition of Insane

Madness Itself
The Mini is great for many reasons - no, I'm not talking about the BMW 0-Series, that's just a silly retro box - and one of these reasons is that its very basic layout and clever design makes it an ideal base for affordable tuning. There are many methods for turning the humble small car into a pocket rocket; some people simply use a bigger, heavily tuned A-Series engine, some swap in a motorbike engine from a Suzuki Hayabusa or a Yamaha R1, and some put slightly bigger engines from other cars in, such as a Vauxhall 1.4 or a manic, high-revving Honda VTEC engine. Madder people than most even go to an organisation like Zcars, who will throw in a rollcage and convert the quintessential front-drive car into a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive missile. This example here takes even the craziest of the above one step further...

You see, what we have here is not an MR Hayabusa car. That's been done before (and can reach 60mph in 2.5 seconds with a turbo). What this 1975 Mini is, according to the seller, is "the only turbo VTEC in the world using the Zcars kit". Note, that's "Turbo VTEC". As the engine in, say, a Honda Civic Type-R revs up to 8500rpm (when most 4-cylinders stop at 6500 or 7000rpm) and produces 200 horsepower without a turbo, what's a heavily modified one with a massive hair dryer attached going to do? I can answer that one for you - this engine revs to the same 8500rpm, but it now produces FIVE. HUNDRED. Horsepower. In a car that weighs no more than 700-750 kilograms. At 660-707bhp/tonne, that puts the power-to-weight ratio firmly into Koenigsegg territory!

That kind of insanity has to be contained, especially when the wheelbase is so short and square. The uprated suspension provided by Zcars ought to help with that, along with 260mm drilled Wilwood brake discs at all corners, each squeezed by a four-piston caliper when a racing brake pedal is pressed by whichever terrified loon happens to find him/herself behind the wheel. More clues that the serious power is backed up by a serious car include driver-adjustable brake bias and seriously uncomfortable-looking bucket seats, as well as a steering wheel that appears to pop out for easier entry. Slightly less serious are the speakers snaking out of the doors and passenger foot well, although I suppose you'd need a serious stereo to drown out an engine like that (which doesn't appear to be very separate from the occupants). Perhaps more serious than all these things is the clearly extensive use of carbon fibre inside and out. The only problem is the "out" part. You see, the roof, bonnet and bootlid are all in delicious blue-tinted carbon fibre, but the rest of the body? The original shell has a "custom fibreglass wide body kit" attached, which looks like......

The loud blue paint, Lamborghini-Aventador-style side intake and cartoonish "Angry Eyes" are all an acquired taste I am struggling to acquire. From this angle, I also can't tell how far apart the rear wheels are, but whatever. It's better to zoom in when looking at the exterior, and thankfully the owner has done so.

The three-piece 8x13" wheels are each held on by a single titanium nut and feature blue carbon fibre 'hoops'. They continue the "anodized blue" paint scheme that covers the entire exterior (and which frankly is a bit too much IMO). It looks like the rear ones are further apart than the front ones, but that's just the bodykit being deceptive. The wheels are shod in Yokohama A032R tyres which the seller says "have long been discontinued and are no longer available". That last bit's actually a little worrying - does that mean this monster has been reduced to a trailer queen to preserve the endangered rubber?

As you might've noticed above, the carbon fibre roof includes a relatively subtle air scoop towards the back. Integrated into said roof scoop is quite a narrow curved rear spoiler akin to the one on a BMW Cooper S. That suggests it might not be a trailer queen if it needs this kind of extra cooling, so maybe an extra set of wheels with disposable tyres is included in the sale. a flyweight car with 495bhp is going to burn through a set of rears pretty damn quickly if the driver isn't careful...

The power goes to the rear wheels via a standard Honda Civic Type-R six-speed gearbox, a "stage 5 competition clutch" and a Quaife LSD. Hopefully Honda over-engineered the gearbox so it's OK with taking twice as much force as it normally does from the mighty engine. The Borg Warner turbo is running at 18psi (1.24 bar), which is a lot, and features dual waste gates (the things that make a hissing noise when you lift off) and even a nitrous oxide system, just to make sure it covers all the bases for mad tuning. To that end, the lowered car has no room underneath its custom bodykit for a huge exhaust pipe, so it pokes through the carbon boot lid next to the left tail light (a Mk.1 conversion with LEDs).

I think I've said enough now. You've decided whether you need this in your life or not. If you do, the good news is that it's for sale in Ventura, California. Of course, something with performance to bother a supercharged Ariel Atom doesn't come cheap, especially when it's "the only known turbo VTEC Zcars Mini in existence anywhere in the world and thus a truly rare breed". As such, this pocket rocket to end all pocket rockets, in all its anodized blue, er, 'beauty', comes with a nice round asking price of $50,000, although offers are welcome "WITHIN REASON". Ironic, considering how very without reason the project is as a whole, but still, haggle it down like you're on Wheeler Dealers and you could get yourself a seriously silly car!

The ad for the car is here and has a lot more information in it. Get ready to read the word "custom" a lot. There are more pictures below:

Rear. The MYTE MNE vanity plate pretty much sums it up.
I'm not that keen on the girder they appear to have attached to the front, but I suppose it's as brutal as the rest of the car.
If you see those angry eyes in your mirror, move over. Actually, just watch and see if it spins round spontaneously. Could happen...
Mmm, blue carbon fibre...
The very square widebody almost makes it look like a Riley Elf from this angle...
Yup, more blue carbon. These tiny mirrors matched with all the piping in the back make rear visibility somewhat worse than before.
Mind you, unless this engine spat you out of a corner and you needed to reverse back into your intended direction, you'd hardly ever need to look backwards.
The diminutive cabin necessitates gauges on the ceiling. No doubt they're "custom" ones.
Seeing as there's no engine in here, there can be a nice big vent to signify that fact... but doesn't that intrude on boot space?
Not when it's already been filled by an intercooler and what I think is the fuel tank.
Mmm, shiny shiny power...
Apparently the only things left from the original 1975 Austin Mini 1000 are the body shell, windscreen, front bearing holders and throttle pedal. Aside from it being a RHD car in America, here's proof that this is a British-born monster.
So there you have it! One crazy little project car. I don't think I'll be doing anything like this to my Mini...

1 comment:

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